Crush Venue Report

Crush Venue Report

Postby Lizzy Mace » 07 Jan 2011, 17:27

As a first time Free Fringer not really knowing what to expect, I was very pleased with the venue I was allocated. I am very grateful to PBH for allocating me such a great little room for my show, and I recommend any newbies this year to thoroughly trust his judgment! The Banshee is in a great location, perfect for catching passing traffic at the end of the Mile. In terms of the cinema space specifically, the size was ideal for the intimate story-telling nature of my show, and the comfortable raked seating is a real bonus for sightlines, which helped the audiences to relax, to connect with the story, and generally to create a good atmosphere. Technically, the sound and projector system were also exactly what I needed.

Jamie, and his deputy Richard, were excellent venue captains. They organised the set-up very well, and were on-hand throughout the first day of performances to deal with any teething problems. My only complaint about them would be that I couldn't help to clear the venue because when I arrived at the allotted time on the Sunday it had already been done! :-)

The only possible improvement to the room is that currently switching the projector on or off requires standing on the backs of the benches and feeling around blindly. A proper step to reach it, or a remote control, would make this a lot safer. As a very minor point, there are a lot of cables at the front of the room which looks messy, but there is little that the venue itself can do about this without losing a lot of the flexibility that the system currently has.

The venue staff were generally very helpful, dealing with technical hitches, tracking down wandering mics, etc, often going beyond what ought to be expected of them. I think they ought only to be called upon for serious issues such as the lights blowing out - which did happen one day and which they fixed very quickly.

The only real suggestions I have for improving the venue lie in the hands of us as performers working better for each other. Further to above, the technical set-up in the room should be straightforward, but every day I arrived, something different had been changed and not put back, such as settings being changed on the box, jacks not plugged back in, mics moved from one room to another. Jamie did set up a default position that everyone should return the equipment to, which was explained and agreed during set-up, but this was hardly ever followed. This ought to have avoided everyone having to troubleshoot the system before every performance, and having to ask too much of the bar staff. I would suggest next time perhaps a diagram and/or list of instructions is printed out and fixed prominently to the tech desk. Also, if a group fails to follow it, they need to be told - by the group performing afterwards in a friendly way, or by the venue captain in a less friendly way if they repeat-offend!

Similarly, the main problem with performing in the space is the noise coming from people walking through the corridor at the back of the audience - both from ordinary customers and from regular tours passing through. This is distracting to the performer and difficult to shut out completely as the doors do not always shut fully. However, there is little - aside from re-building and starting all over again - that the venue management can do to address this. Instead we as a team could have put up better signage making it clearer that performances were taking place throughout the day, and asking for quiet when passing by.

Which leads to another point. The venue name is not ironic - it is a labyrinth! As the start times were staggered between the two spaces, this often meant that I would have people arrive, come in, and take seats half-way through, only to realise after a few minutes that they were in the wrong space, and leave again. Unless I broke out of my show and asked them as soon as they opened the door whether they were looking for the show about to start in the other space. Each of these scenarios is disruptive to the show. Again, we as a team of performers at the venue could have made clearer signs to indicate exactly where each space was, and what show was currently playing/ about to start in each of them. We did have running orders up for each space outside the venue, and inside in the back corridor for part of the run, but this was still not enough to prevent this happening on an almost daily basis.

I didn't have any props to store, so I only used the store room for my flyers. However, every time I needed to get some more, they were impossible to find, usually having been moved to another spot among the general mess, which, apart from props, sometimes included broken bottles and other rubbish in black binbags. I would strongly suggest that groups performing in this venue in future keep props to an absolute minimum, and be mindful of other users of the store room when putting things back.

One last thing, not specifically about this venue but about the process of venue allocation in general, which is that performers need to know before they write their Fringe programme entries whether the venues have age restrictions. I entered my show in the programme as a PG, and only realised when I was in Edinburgh that the venue has a strict over-21s policy, even during the daytime. I ought to have thought about this myself of course, but with so much else to organise it was a detail that passed me by. Perhaps when venues are being allocated, this is something else along with location, capacity, technical facilities, that needs to be added as a note alongside each venue offered.
Lizzy Mace
 
Posts: 6
Joined: April 2010

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