17:30: Patrick Shand - Struggle With Purpose

17:30: Patrick Shand - Struggle With Purpose

Postby patrickshand » 03 Sep 2017, 21:47

This was my first year at the fringe and it was a challenging but undoubtedly worthwhile experience.

My show was quite artsy spoken word and songs - so fairly niche. I really struggled getting audiences in and on five occasions no one came. The most I ever had was around 10 but, when I had an audience, it tended to be 4ish people. There were quite a few days where I didn't manage to flyer but I usually got 1 - 3 hours in, mostly on Cowgate, but people rarely came because I flyered them. The Wee Blue Book was definitely a much better help. Having said that, I know I should've put more time into the flyering, in addition to figuring out where they'd be more punters interested in the kind of show I was doing.

The average bucket was a meagre seven quid. Although, I should say that quite a lot of mates came to see the show, as well as other PBH performers, who I didn't expect to donate (unless they insisted).

Pilgrim is a fairly trendy bar on Robertson's Close (just off Cowgate). There are 2 or 3 steps up to the entrance so I don't think it's wheelchair friendly, unfortunately. Although the location is very central, I think the fact that it's technically on Robertson's Close, and not Cowgate, was an obstacle for acquiring audiences. I don't think the venue was known by most fringe goers.

The staff were all lovely and very accommodating. They let me store my digital piano in their cellar, which was a massive help to me, except when it was too full due to a recent stock delivery. Although, on those occasions I just stored it behind the curtain at the back of the performance area.

We used the bar's own shabby PA system which was fine until my very last show when the sound kept cutting out because of a dodgy speaker cable. The performance area is just the end of the room, it's only separated by a curtain. This was definitely the biggest issue with performing in Pilgrim. While the main section of the room (where the bar was) wasn't usually that busy, even just having 10 or so people having loud chats could be very distracting. Often there were people already in the performance area before I started my set. I think this was because of the novelty denim seating that was there, as well as the three tables at the back where people liked sitting to have food.

Unsurprisingly, Pilgrim was always busiest on Saturdays and gigs on those days tended to be hard going. Because the bar was sometimes full to the brim, you ended up having quite a lot of folk in the performance area that had no interest in the gig. At one point I had some pissed machoman storming up to me, while I was performing a spoken piece, to hurl abuse at me because he found the performance so objectionable (he was demanding that I stop, claiming that I was hurting his ears, saying that I was terrible). One member of the bar staff dealt with this extremely well, as he quickly confronted the guy and said that if he didn't sit down and shut up then he'd have to leave.

To be honest, I don't think Pilgrim is at all suitable for spoken word shows and I reckon that probably the only stuff safe to program there would be fairly loud musicians/bands, as the noise of the pubgoers often made it impossible to pull off a performance that utilises dynamics a lot.

That being said, I still had a wonderful time and met loads of totally lovely PBH folk. Thank you so much for having me. I hope that you'll have me again.

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