The Bald and the Beautiful - 9pm

The Bald and the Beautiful - 9pm

Postby Elise Harris » 03 Sep 2010, 19:38

We had a good run and the Dragonfly is a great little venue. The staff are very helpful and the room is not bad for shows that are not planning on attracting too many people.
We managed to get capacity and beyond crowds most nights, even though many people admitted they almost didn't walk as far as the Dragonfly - it isn't far geographically, but it's on the lip of the notorious strip club area of the city and spaced quite far from any other Fringe venues.
It may be just as well many people didn't make it that far as it really doesn't hold more than 20 comfortably because of the arrangement of seats and pillars. It can fit around 50 at a pinch but many will stand and most will get a restricted view.
It's hard to flyer for as it's difficult to judge where the audiences willing to walk to the venue will come from. People on the Grassmarket might only make it as far as The Beehive, where there were a range of very good shows they were probably more likely to go too and not bother going any further. As the Beehive seems to have a policy of junking any flyers and posters that are not from the Beehive there is no chance of cross-promotion.
Better signage pointing to the venue would be helpful, though our Free Fringe sign got stolen when we tried to position it in a place visible from the street.
Most audience members seem to have come from the internet or the brochures (main or Free Fringe) and so it is clear that it is very important that people carry out their promises to flyer with the brochures and give out as many as possible. It can really only work if everyone is as unselfish as possible when flyering because if people are drawn to a show they will go to more shows, and if they have the whole brochure they may find something they want to see even if it's not your show.
The three of us in our show had a fairly good fringe, though we have learned from our mistakes (eg more publicity effort required if/when we come up again). The three of us are considering solo shows, but that's not because we didn't have fun working together (I certainly enjoyed the support having two other people in the show offered).
The venue does have some problems with sound bleed. On Fridays and Saturdays a DJ plays in the next room from 9pm and the door between the two sections is always kept open. The bar gets very crowded which means that although there is a pool of new audience members they tend to be more interested in the music, and are often a little worse for wear. The door keeper stops anyone obviouly drunk or groups he considers might make trouble, but that also means a large group who are not likely to cause trouble but have come specifically for a show might potentially also be turned away. Then again, it's probably best to be safe.
The demographics for the cocktail bar are younger so any show that wishes to attact a more diverse group might suffer after 9pm on a weekend. It probably doesn't make a difference earlier on in the day or in the week as the audience seemed to be quite mixed for our show most of the time.
Elise Harris
Posts: 16
Joined: January 2008
Location: London

Re: The Bald and the Beautiful - 9pm

Postby Alex Marion » 04 Jan 2011, 20:25

Sorry to be so slack in adding this - firstly Elise has got this pretty much on the nail (especially the weekend noise). Its a lovely little room to play but we found it hard work getting people in, with audiences ranging from 7 (twice) to 50 (once) and averaging out at around 20. The upside is that the size and shape of the room means that even the smallest audiences felt intimate and actually those were some of my favourite nights. Also, the people who did come up that far were almost universally nice, as were the inordinately helpful and friendly staff.
Alex Marion
Posts: 9
Joined: July 2010

Re: The Bald and the Beautiful - 9pm

Postby Paco Erhard » 23 Jan 2011, 14:09

Sorry for the very late post; it's only coming now that I'm starting to think about my own show next year, so I hope I can add something helpful for others.

I don't want to repeat too many of the things that Alex and Elise already wrote; just this much: I really enjoyed the show and the Dragonfly too. The staff really are very helpful and friendly and make great cocktails. All in all: a lovely venue, possibly better for shows that don't require visibility as much as stand-up or sketch shows. Having said that, there is a plus side to the pillars in the background that limit visibility behind them: because of them the venue feels full rather soon, i.e. you can get a good atmosphere going with only 20 people or so (who in a visibly larger venue would feel lost and self-conscious) - but if there are more people, you can fit up to 50 in.

Here are some ideas in regards to improvement:


At the end of the room there is a bar that isn't in use but serves for storing drinks etc., which is why staff occasionally have to access it and often leave the door ajar - a considerable part of the noise can be shut out when closing this door. If they trust you, the staff may also give you the code needed to access the bar: I set my camera up back in there, with access to a plug and everything. Quite handy.

Signs (inside)

During the first few days of the festival there weren't any signs inside the bar pointing to the room the shows were in and there wasn't a sign on the door itself - which poses a bit of a problem, since there are about 7 or 8 grey doors in that hallway that look exactly the same.

After a few days, the venue staff had printed a few A4 signs for these purposes, which were infinitely better than nothing, but I think that acts for this venue should get together beforehand and print good, large, and well-designed signs for that purpose. Everybody walking into this bar should immediately know that there are shows going on and where exactly they are.

Signs (outside)
As Alex and Elise said, the Dragonfly is off Grassmarket and, when you look up the street from Grassmarket, it really doesn't look like there are any more venues that way, it looks like the festival stops here. The venue itself is also quite inconspicuous; you could easily walk past it. Whoever gets this venue next year should do everything possible to counteract this.

If I remember correctly, you only have to walk into the street (West Port) a little bit to see the black fence of the venue - which would be a perfect spot for a big PBH Free Fringe sign. With this, everybody would know that there is stuff happening there. As many large and visible signs as possible should be put outside to draw people to the venue.
As Alex or Elise wrote, our sign got stolen after a few days, so acts in this venue should make sure to take in the sign at night and possibly have one or two spare, just in case the original signs go missing.

Other promotion
As mentioned by me and others, the Dragonfly is an excellent and very popular cocktail bar. I think this is something that can be used for promotion. Signs outside for example could say "Comedy & Cocktails" and while flyering you can push the fact that people can actually get very good drinks there to go with the comedy. Generally I think acts in this venue should get together to promote the venue as much as their own show - everybody will benefit from it.

Another very helpful thing would be to take turns standing on the end of Grassmarket with one or two picket signs pointing to the venue, saying something like "PBH Free Fringe - Comedy & Cocktails - Dragonfly Cocktail Bar" and an arrow pointing in the according direction. Venue captains would have to organise shifts for performers, who could hold the picket signs, be equipped with flyers for their own show as well as the shows in the next three hours, and promote the shows and the venue in general.

I think, as I said, acts appearing in this venue should get together early to make some of these things happen. When we got there last year, we (or at least I) thought "if I had known that earlier..." quite a few times. Now, there is still a lot of time till the 2011 Fringe. With a bit of preparation I think this can be a fantastic venue.

Hope these ideas help!
Paco Erhard
Posts: 1
Joined: January 2011

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