So I’m on a National Express back home after four days of performing in Manchester. The point of this blog was to be as honest as possible with regards to what’s going on for us and with our work, so with that in mind I’m not going to shy away from saying that the last few days haven’t been as successful as we hoped. Financially speaking. We got another four star review which is worth its weight in gold but we just didn't have the audience turn out we hoped for. I haven’t been through all the figures yet but if we broke even on this trip it would have been by the skin of our teeth. Which isn't anything particularly suprising for a fringe festival but we like to make things work financially wherever possible. And it now becomes clear why most shows at the Greater Manchester Fringe only do a night or two of performances… so we will know that for the future and take it as a learning experience. It was still lovely to perform in Manchester for the first time and we’ve really enjoyed being part of this fringe and the great response we’ve had from our audiences. And that’s what its about really.
But all of this is just to preface my main question for this blog. How little audience is too little? This question came up because on our opening night we only had one ticket pre-sold. We did end up with more but performing to one person is a daunting thought and had me anxious for a little while. We’ve done it before back in 2013 when we took our first show to Edinburgh. I’m sure most people who perform on the fringe circuit know what it’s like to look out into the audience and just see one solitary face staring back at you.
I’m all for performing my heart out for whoever’s there to see me. If someone made the effort to buy a ticket and show up then I’m damn well gunna give them the show they paid for. But in the situation of having just one audience member, I wonder if its fair to ask them whether they want the show to go on. I’ve never done that and wouldn’t want to make them feel on the spot but I also wouldn’t want them to feel uncomfortable for an hour. Especially with this show.
I think it would be less awkward in a show where there’s a fourth wall and the audience just observe but Bleach has a lot of direct address to the audience and is a very intimate and intense show. I’m not sure I’d want to watch it all by myself.
Personally, I would usually relish the idea of having a show performed just for me. Depending on the show, of course. I think there's something really exciting and special about that experience. But I'm also aware that lots of audience members don't want full immersion. Not everyone feels comfortable with that. Thy book a ticket on under the expectation that they can just sit in a dark room, anonymous and unseen, for an hour or so.
This is by no means to say that I would ask the audience member if this occurred in the future. I’d probably just get on with it and hope they liked it. But I just wanted to weigh in on that thought. Would you be okay with being the only audience member? Would you like to be given the option to leg it?
Just a thought. Luckily we sold a few more tickets and nobody felt uncomfortable… at least not from being alone with me in a dark room for an hour.