Yesterday was Rigging Day on the PBH Free Fringe, the day when all the performers get together to set their venue up. I thought this was going to be a knackering day of lugging heavy equipment and faffing around, but it was a whole lot more besides.
The first slice of additional magic was our venue, The Buffs Club, which is a proper old fashioned Working Man's Club. The regulars were extremely friendly and chatty (getting more so as the afternoon progressed, breaking into song around 5pm) and the manager was a lovely bloke, clearly used to being calm whatever goes on.
All the acts turned up on time too and as we headed off to fetch our PA I caught a glimpse of the real genius of the Free Fringe - we were getting to know each other through working together, becoming friends rather than suspicious rivals for audiences. This carried on when we got to PBH HQ at Canons Gait and spent a merry couple of hours helping to assemble equipment - major corporations should investigate sending executives to the Fringe, this was the best Team Bonding Exercise I'd ever been part of!
It was back at our venue, however, when the full beauty of the arrangement became clear. Putting out chairs, blacking out windows and arranging the lighting we realised that this venue was ours, not just some room we'd hired or a slot in a management company's crammed bill. We'd made this ourselves, together, and could do what we liked with it - something to be proud of now and, hopefully, for the next three weeks.
All right, we may have sampled a bit of the very reasonably priced club beer, and perhaps the singing of the locals had got to us, but it all felt a bit wonderful. Let's hope it stays that way when we actually start doing our shows!