Caspar Thomas: More Magic and Mentalism (6:30pm, room 1)

Caspar Thomas: More Magic and Mentalism (6:30pm, room 1)

Postby Caspar_Thomas » 02 Nov 2017, 01:06

The Venue

Bourbon is a basement nightclub on Frederick Street, a road leading north off Princes Street. It is a little away from the Cowgate/Royal Mile area which I think of as the central fringe area. So, although it is a busy area, it does suffer from fewer dedicated fringe audience footfall. On the upside, the venue is fairly easy to find for those looking for it.

Performance area

There were two "venues" within Bourbon: room 1 and room 2 which are adjacent to each other. My show was in (and this report is about) room 1. Both rooms comprise the nightclub and lead off a restaurant & bar area which doubled as a waiting area.

Room 1 has a bar at one end and a large sound system at the other. The area in front of the sound system is the performance area. There is no stage. The seating comprises around 40-50 fold up chairs which the staff set up in the morning. There are three or four booths around the outskirts of the room which seated up to a further five people per booth. For my show I had to rope off a few of the booths which meant that maximum capacity was around 60 people or so. There was some standing space too.

The venue provided us (both rooms) with a storage space within the cloakroom. This was very useful for storing a limited number of props for each show. This admittedly became very cramped with perhaps 15 shows' worth of stuff. On occasion, the staff very kindly allowed us to keep a few valuable items in their office for safekeeping.

Technical set-up

Lighting was a big problem for me. My show is a magic show and it's very important that I and my props are seen clearly. However, the only lights available were a number of rows of LEDs which had the potential to flash & change colour, but did not adequately light the performance space in my case. Because of that I clubbed together with a few of the other acts to purchase two stand up lamps from Argos to light the performance area from stage left & stage right. Because of limited power points, extension cables were also necessary. This was a pretty good work around, although the lights did get in the way a bit of people coming up to the "stage".

The sound system was very high-end and powerful. Because the speakers were behind the performance area, it meant that the sound interfered with my radio lapel mic. After some fiddling each day, the staff & I managed to get it to work without interfering, but at quite a low volume. Aside from that, my intro, exit & sound cues all sounded great - played via a simple headphone jack connected to the sound desk.


That staff were extremely helpful, kind and courteous. They were happy for us to arrive at the venue when they opened for any set up that was required prior to the first show of the day. Almost every day there was at least one member of staff available to help with any initial technical difficulties, e.g. sound levels and house lights. I think I can speak for all the acts when I say that I felt very welcome at the venue.


I printed 10,000 flyers (A6) and 125 posters (A3). I ended up using virtually all of the flyers and relatively few of the posters. Throughout the run my brother did all the flyering and this was pretty vital to my getting an audience. That included flyering at the Frederick Street/Rose Street junction and exit-flyering shows similar to mine (i.e. magic shows) and other shows at the venue. I think the latter is much more effective than flyering in a “neutral” location. I put up several posters at the venue itself.

Despite this being my fourth year at the fringe, I had some professional reviews for the first time which were favourable. This and paying for an entry in the main fringe guide helped with my audience numbers.

As last year, I did six spots at the Virgin Money Upper Stage on the Royal Mile. And like last year, I struggled to hold a crowd and I doubt it resulted in many more people coming to the show. But, it enabled me to practice new material and to increase my exposure if only a small bit.

I did several spots in cabaret shows which will have had some impact on numbers too.


I did 22 performances at this venue, and a further 8 at La Belle Angèle. Discounting those extra shows, my audience size averaged around 40. As per previous years, weekends were consistently better than weekdays and Saturday always resulted in the biggest bucket of the week.

The show itself

Mine is a stage magic show that combines sleight of hand and mentalism. It was scheduled for 6:30pm (1 hour). This was my first year doing this particular show, so it changed somewhat over the course of the run as I tweaked bits here and there.
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