Chris Cook: Control 13.40 Ballroom

Chris Cook: Control 13.40 Ballroom

Postby chriscook » 24 Oct 2017, 20:52


This is my fourth year at Edinburgh on the PBH FF. My show was an interactive theatre show incorporating magic and story-telling. It incorporated themes from previous shows of mine but was still a brand new show for Fringe 2017. I'm going to repeat what I said a couple of years ago that it is my genuine, honest opinion that the Voodoo Rooms is the best venue at the whole Edinburgh Fringe. The French Quarter is a beautiful little room with toilets and a great bar, the Speakeasy is an absolutely perfect (AIR-CONDITIONED!) cabaret bar with a great stage, and the Ballroom is one of the best theatre stages the fringe has to offer. All the staff are really helpful and the standard of shows in the Voodoo Rooms is incredible.

Show Time and capacity

The Ballroom seats 112 people. My show was on at 13.40 everyday for the whole fringe. I filled every seat on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the run and all the other days it was between 75-full. The door staff were really helpful at managing the queues and getting the audience in and out. Having half an hour changeover periods really, REALLY helped with this as it can take a lot of time getting that many people out of the room, clearing up empty glasses after them then letting the next lot in. Within three days I couldn't imagine how we'd coped with 15 minutes in previous years.

The Ballroom is the largest of the Voodoo Rooms spaces. The stage is approximately 14 x 7 ft and is accessible through the centre aisle or from stage-right. The room itself is stunning with a real 1920s style cabaret decor including beautiful, subtle fairy lights on the walls (this looks really good, not tacky).

The lighting set-up is very impressive with spots, washes, disco-ball, house-lights, footlights and gels. There are also two microphones and stands and DI boxes with inputs for musical instruments and iPods. I hired my own techie who operated lights and sound from the tech-booth at the back of the room though some shows with fewer technical requirements managed to work without a techie. There is also a projector and screen that is simple to use though I didn't use it in my show this year. I brought my own wireless headset mic which worked great.

There is a large, walk-in cupboard at the back of the venue for storage. There is a lot of room but it can get full with props and flyers for other shows so it's good to give it a quick tidy out every few days. As a general rule, so long as acts helped keep their equipment tidy, the cupboard was a convenient space for storage.


I hired one person to flyer for me each day who was then the techie for my show. I only ever hire friends who I like and who care about the show themselves. They do a great job of flyering because they actually want me to succeed and they support the show. I would always exit-flyer the show before me and sometimes other shows later in the day. I also performed in lots of cabaret nights and handed out flyers afterwards. I always find this very effective as people often came to see my main show after seeing me do ten minutes in a cabaret night.

I paid to be in the big brochure which I think helps get audiences and critics in through the door, mainly due to appearing on the mobile app which a LOT of punters now use over the Big Fringe Printed Programme. I did less social media stuff this year (mainly through exhaustion) but I do genuinely think word-of-mouth recommendations is the best publicity. I always say at the end of the show, if you enjoyed it, better than giving me money, just tell your friends. If they did enjoy it, they'll do both. You can pay for all the promotion you want but the best promotion is always to have a good show. The Voodoo Rooms never disappoints, the quality of acts is always superb and the reputation of the place helps pull in a crowd. It's definitely not a venue for half-baked ideas but instead for thoroughly well rehearsed, great shows (every year shows from Voodoo get nominated for awards and "best of the fringe" picks).


My audience numbers were great and probably my best yet. I know a lot of acts struggled with audience numbers this year so I felt very grateful that I had a good fringe.

The audiences that I got were always warm, friendly and open to being involved in the show. I would guess they were 30% locals and 70% tourists but I would suggest that changed to more like 90% tourists on the weekends.


Exceptionally generous. I don't have a pushy bucket speech at all, I'm just honest with the audience and ask them to support the show. Plenty of people put in 10 and 20 pound notes (with even one 50!) and the average could work out as much as £6.50 per person.

Staff/Other Performers

The staff at the Voodoo Rooms are the best people at the whole festival. Just trust me on that. They are all really friendly, professional and great fun to chat to. They will always try and help with anything and you end up making great friends with everyone by the end of the run.


I feel so lucky to be given the opportunity to be back in the Ballroom and am really grateful to PBH for giving me the chance to perform in Edinburgh's best venue. I can't wait to be back next year!
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