Your money or your life - White Horse

Performer reviews of their venues/shows/experience in 2008

Your money or your life - White Horse

Postby deletethebanjax » 04 Sep 2008, 17:41

2008 was our first Fringe and we weren’t sure what to expect – we were blown away.
We sort of stumbled across the Free Fringe back in April not long after we’d formed as a group. We are now 100% sure that by going to Edinburgh with the Free Fringe we did the right thing!

We’ll start with the issue least mentioned in other reports…
The only draw back we really found was the difficulty getting reviewed. We felt on this point the Free Fringe is at a disadvantage. People we knew at money venues were told when reviewers were in and so could bolster their numbers on the day with extra fliering, half-price sales and of course roping friends in. We did not get told when the (only) reviewer we had was coming and in fact weren‘t even told at the end; the guy only came back cos he left his note pad behind! It turned out to be a perfectly acceptable review (though it was early in the run and we think it would have been much better a week later!)
Also, on this same point it would be a big advantage to share more tips about Press Releases as we did everything that was suggested by the Fringe and still only managed any sort of interest from Three Weeks (a review as well as featuring our answers to the 'Quick Quiz'); who it turns out aren’t really respected by performers anyway.
We felt our Press Release was of a good standard, they were sent out at the end of June and again to key publications during the festival saying how well it was going and yet had no come-back whatsoever. I think Peter’s idea of having a PR coordinator throughout the year is an excellent idea so that the Free Fringe as a whole has more coverage. Although it was clear to us that it definitely is growing every year not just in it’s physical standing but it’s ethics and quality shine through against the cynical development of the ‘Comedy Festival.’

A small (possibly obvious) but significant point - especially if a list of tips is created for new groups; we wished we called our show the name of our group! Having never been before we didn't realise how confusing this would be for audiences, marketing and listing purposes!

The White Horse is a ‘cosy’ little venue and we weren’t sure how our energetic sketch show would translate, but we needn’t have worried as it fitted the surroundings well and we made it all part of the fun.
The camaraderie and support with other acts at The White Horse seemed very good. I agree with someone’s idea of having a venue notice board and social to open/close things (on top of the general Free Fringe ones). It was definitely helpful having people who had performed in the White Horse before as the set-up can seem quite daunting to new groups. There were a couple of issues as the venue was hosting an event on the Friday night but we got the place in a fair state on Saturday morning (including some suitably low-key lighting). We missed the ‘get out’ due to a mix up with our accommodation and we apologise for that.

We thought the Canon’s Gait idea of having a board with ‘now showing’ and ‘next show’ was a great idea and think this could be rolled out to all venues.

We quickly realised that our flier, though eye catching, didn’t give the best info (next year we will have bigger writing, the venue number and a small map on it) so after low audience numbers on the first two days we pushed our fliering much more; we called it ‘Power Fliering’ – going out en masse (there’s four in our group) for one hour before the show, stopping people and getting them talking, not just giving out fliers to everyone but engaging people in conversation and getting them on-board with the Free Fringe.

The Free Fringe brochure really helped with this – an excellent and easily navigable map on the back and coherent list of a large number of free shows. We didn’t ask everyone how they ended up watching us but it was clear that many came simply due to the brochure.
By the end we were able to recommend a day of free shows which knocked the socks off the money venues.

We were proud to be part of something with integrity when so much of the stuff we saw at paying venues was piss poor.

Our average audience size for the full run in The White Horse was 36 (including the first two days). Big shout out to Cool Fun who definitely persuaded a good few people each day to stay on and watch our show.
Roll on 2009!!
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Location: London

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