Jim Woroniecki - 99 club - White Horse

Performer reviews of their venues/shows/experience in 2008

Jim Woroniecki - 99 club - White Horse

Postby 99club » 02 Sep 2008, 00:03

It was another fantastic year at the free fringe both for us and the other shows I saw. We had consistently packed out houses with a very large proportion of returning customers and people feeding through to other free fringe shows. Of the other FF shows I watched most were also packed and all were very funny.

Everyone at the venue worked together well to make The White Horse a good and fun venue. All but two of the shows were there to setup on the first morning (and one of those was driving up from London with a van full of equipment!). That first day they had a function in, so we couldn’t do too much – but we were able to plan effectively what needed doing, and crucially get hold of some extra chairs. Thus on the second morning we were able to get everything properly set up in time for the first show.
I think it was very useful having Brian and I there who had experience of running venues and therefore could make a few suggestions about things and point people in the right direction. However there was no leadership role – everyone pitched in equally to make sure things got done. This meant although it was hard work the setup was also a really enjoyable group experience.

I made good friends with the bar staff who were extremely helpful and supportive throughout. Yet another positive - the design of the Free Fringe brochure was excellent this year and brought alot of people in.

The only minor negative I have is that our slot was a big tight. The show itself was ten minutes shorter than last year and the changeover time was cut back to five minutes for the previous show to get out and five minutes for us to get in. The changeover was pretty tough most days; however in the spirit of the Free Fringe we made it work – kudos to the previous show who finished bang on time almost every day while I roped in extra people to help with the get in.

Speaking to people not involved I felt there seem to be two misconceptions doing the rounds about the Free Fringe. One being that many people aren’t aware of the principles behind it and think all the organisations running free shows are basically the same. The other, related one is that some people think free shows are like a sort of large scale open mike event, simply for those who aren’t good enough to land a slot at a “proper” venue.

I’d suggest that this coming year even more focus should be put on finding high quality shows, running high quality venues and fostering a spirit of change, ethical conduct and fun – and on making sure people know about it. It could also be an important time to find a balance in the growth of venues. Growing the number of venues faster than the growth in total audience and quality of performers would risk diluting some of the best things about the Free Fringe.

As with last year we surveyed everyone on the way in, so I’ll post up those statistics once we’ve had a chance to sort the data out.
We had capacity crowds every night but one with even that one exception still having all the seats full (i.e. it was the only night where we didn't have people standing, perching on tables and watching from the hallway outside!). I’d say numbers were up on last year although we were full all but one night then as well, so it’s hard to tell! Loved it again this year and I look forward to the next one.
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