Top Banana Productions: Edinburgh Festival Fringe 1996

The Calton Centre

Venue 119 : 121 Montgomery Street, Edinburgh


Introduction

Top Banana Productions

Top Banana Productions was formed in December 1994 with the express purpose of running a venue in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The primary aim is to provide a comprehensive service while allowing companies coming to the Fringe realistic economic prospects. We formed the company while being disgusted at the increasing commercialisation of the Fringe, wanting to give something back in the original spirit of the Fringe.

We successfully ran the Calton Centre in last year's Fringe, and hope to build on this success.

Facilities

The complex consists of two 120-seat theatres: the Proscenium Theatre has a generous proscenium stage, with wheelchair access to both the auditorium and stage, and a bar; the Arena Theatre is a theatre in the round with seating on all sides of the stage, and has a hearing aid induction loop. There is an all-day box office operating in conjunction with the Fringe Society box office; we accept major credit and debit cards, and operate a telephone booking service. We run our own press office and distribute venue programmes.

Prices

Slot prices are competitive, ranging from 450 to 950 pounds (no VAT) for a 2 hour slot, for one week, though we must stress that we can provide slots of any length, as required. Rates work out lower for longer runs; a peak-time full run 2 hour slot would cost 2770 pounds; for more examples and full details click here. Performances in week 0 (we open to the public on Friday 9 August) are charged at a very low rate and companies are strongly encouraged to present these performances as cut-price previews, with special emphasis on inviting the press (please refer also to the press and marketing section below). We firmly believe in providing the best possible service; if there are services not mentioned in this file please ask.

Press and Marketing

We run a press office from the middle of June, distributing a venue press pack and encouraging the press to come and review, obtaining copies of published reviews, and generally helping you look after publicity in the media. We have had several shows featured on national TV. We publish and distribute our own venue programme throughout Edinburgh before and during the Fringe.

We are willing to help advise on any aspect of press and marketing, and will tailor our approach to suit you; indeed there are so many possibilities that we prefer to deal with each company individually. Having said this, it is in the interests of every participating company to emphasise a strong sense of venue identity. All companies will be required to use the venue logo on their posters and flyers, and other material where possible.

We will be undertaking further publicity campaigns targeted at audiences which are frequently ignored by companies on the Fringe; in particular, the local community and the disabled, for whom we are able to cater.

One issue to consider at this stage is in which weeks to perform. While we refer you to the Fringe Society's publications and advice in general, we would strongly recommend that if you are considering performing in week 1 then you should open your show in week 0; our experience shows that this is an ideal time to get an early review in one of the major papers, particularly the Evening News and Scotsman.


Figure: The venue logo


Proscenium Theatre


Figure: Diagram of the Proscenium Theatre, not to scale

The auditorium seats 128 (plus two reserved for front-of-house staff), and is gently raked. There is wheelchair access to the auditorium and stage, though that to stage is via the auditorium, and a wheelchair-adapted WC. There is a bar in the auditorium, which will be open while the audience are entering and leaving, and during the show if you wish.

The stage is approximately 22' (6.7m) wide by 18' (5.5m) deep at the deepest part, and is surrounded by black masking. It is possible for items of set to be attached to the lighting rig. Stageweights are provided. There is extensive storage space for items of set and props behind the stage and in a room on the stage level. This room serves as the dressing room for disabled performers. Access to the stage is possible from both sides, using the provided get-round. Apart from going outside, it is not possible to reach the auditorium entrance from backstage.

A flexible lighting rig of approximately 40 lanterns, incorporating warm and cold front wash, several refocussable spots, coloured top and sidelights, is provided. Control will be by a 24-way memory desk. We can supply any specials you require and will incorporate them at fit-up time (leaving your technical rehearsal time for more productive activities). The PA system includes 2 tape decks, 1 CD player and 3 vocal microphones. A simple upright piano is available.


Arena Theatre


Figure: Diagram of the Arena Theatre, not to scale

The auditorium seats 120 (plus two reserved for front-of-house staff), arranged in three rows surrounding the stage. Despite the apparently large capacity, the theatre has an intimate atmosphere and lends itself to interaction with the audience. Access to the theatre is only by stairs, making access for the physically disabled awkward. However, there is a hearing aid induction loop; we strive to avoid excluding potential audience members. There is a mini-bar in the auditorium, serving as the audience enter and leave.

The stage is approximately 22' (6.7m) long by 12' (3.7m) wide, and is marked off by 6 pillars, which support the ceiling (see the plan, above). Storage for set will be available, but the use of anything more substantial than chairs and perhaps a small table will be discouraged due to fire regulations (and is, in our experience, liable to prove artistically awkward in the round anyway). Access to the stage is possible by either door.

A versatile lighting rig of approximately 40 lanterns, with warm and cold wash from all sides, several refocussable spots, and coloured toplight, is provided. As with the Proscenium Theatre, we can supply and install any specials you require. Control will be by a 24-way memory desk. The PA system includes 2 tape decks, 1 CD player and 3 vocal microphones.


Notes

Dressing rooms

The dressing rooms are on the lower floor, on the same level as the Arena Theatre, and down the backstage stairs from the Proscenium Theatre. They will be shared between productions. Toilets are available.

Rehearsals

Each production will be allowed at least double their slot length for technical rehearsal time on Tuesday or Wednesday of week 0. The Thursday will be operated as a dress rehearsal day, though it may be possible to open to the public then. Productions not opening in week 0 may have their technical and dress rehearsals while the theatre is closed to the public during the run, i.e. between 1am and 10am, or in any other vacant slots.

Technical backup

Extensive technical backup will be provided by experienced staff. During the technical and dress rehearsals, two staff will be on hand throughout to help rig any further equipment, advise on storage of set and props, demonstrate usage of the lighting and sound systems, or just to make coffee. During the run, one technician will be on hand to make sure changeovers go smoothly and fix any last-minute hitches.

Choice of material

As the Calton Centre is a Christian organisation working in the community, there may be some types of material which are not suitable for the venue. In particular pieces incorporating gratuitous obscenity, violence or blasphemy will not be accepted.

The 50th Fringe

We expect to take part in the celebrations of the 50th Fringe, probably by having an Open Doors day when hopefully all shows will play for free (clearly there will be no charge for performing on that day), and by offering cut-price tickets or some other promotion for anyone visiting bringing a piece of Fringe memorabilia. We would certainly hope that participating companies would join in the festivities in some way.

Prices

Prices in both theatres are the same; while the actual space is quite different in each case, the level of technical provision, seating capacity and other services are very similar.

Rates per hour per week:

                  week 0   week 1   week 2   week 3
       10am-1pm       35      225      275      225
       1pm-4pm        40      275      325      275
       4pm-6pm        50      375      425      375
       6pm-11pm       60      425      475      425
       11pm onwards   45      325      375      325
All figures in pounds sterling.

The Proscenium Theatre is not available before 4pm; the Calton Centre continues to run as a community centre, albeit in a more limited capacity, during the Fringe.

We would envisage the theatres being available until around 1am, but can cater for performances even later if required. Rates are hourly as shown, and should be multiplied up to suit the length of your production; note that slots will include time for get-in, get-out and audience changeover. We take a 7% commission to cover the per-ticket cost of running our box office.

Under this arrangement, all the money taken at the box office, after commission is deducted, will be passed directly to the production, weekly if required and certainly by the end of September. A deposit of 20% of the rental will be payable on confirmation of the slot, 40% by the end of May and the final 40% by the end of July. Varied payment terms or other arrangements such as splitting the box office take or setting a more modest guarantee against a box office split will be considered individually; please do not hesitate to ask.

All prices include all the facilities and services described in this file. We operate a policy of no hidden charges. We are not VAT registered so do not charge VAT on any of the prices nor commission shown.

Some examples:
A full run at 8pm, 2 hour slot: 2770.00
Weeks 0-2 only, 5pm, 1 hour slot: 850.00
Week 3 only, 1pm, 2.5 hour slot: 687.50
A full run at 11pm, 1.25 hour slot: 1337.50


Further information

For further discussion about the facilities and services at the Calton Centre, please contact John Robinson:
john@chiark.chu.cam.ac.uk
snail: 56a Grange Road, Cambridge CB3 9DH
Tel: +44 1223 329121
Fax: +44 1223 300085

To make a booking, please contact Tim Wallace:
snail: 3a Church Street, Crieff PH7
Tel/fax: +44 1764 654018

To make an appointment to view the building (which is possible 10am-4pm Monday-Saturday), please contact Richard Lloyd:

R.B.Lloyd@hw.ac.uk
snail: 2F2 122 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh EH10 4ES
Tel: +44 131 228 9195 or +44 1383 860044

All the details in this file are given in good faith; E&OE.


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