Report by Trevor Connell
The RSVP Melbourne Party After Dark was this year held at the Old Melbourne Gaol and was quite a departure from the previous PADs that have been held in nightclubs
The event was produced by Troy Stasinowsky and Kirsten Egan who are Marekai’s event management team and produce around 90 events a year in the venue.
RSVP manager Delwin Kriel appointed Marekai to produce the event based on the creative pitch prepared by Troy and Kirsten.
To flesh out the event with creative entertainment Troy and Kirsten invited participants from their own supplier list. These suppliers were keen to be involved as the event provided a great way of showcasing their product or service – in many ways better than via the trade show as it is more experiential.
The setup and challenges
The main setup could not commence until after the venue closed to the public at 5:00 pm. Some lighting, cable runs and other rigging was preset the night before and of course all care had to be taken at all times because the building is a National Trust property.
The Old Gaol has very little lighting installed so Troy very cleverly got Airstar involved and they installed floating lights (helium filled balloons with lights inside)
Guest would arrive by bus at the Old Melbourne Gaol main entrance and spend some time in there as all the busses arrived. On arrival guests were given a prisoner style tin mug that could then have filled with the beverage of their choice and then the guests would be taken on a tour of the venue via a performance
Following this performance the guests would transfer to the other section of the Gaol – the Former City Watch House for food, entertainment, networking and experiences.
The interactive performance
The prisoner experience developed by Leonie Collins who told ASE “Many years ago when I was Promotions Manager for Melbourne Convention and Visitors Bureau we ran a very successful networking night for Talk-a-bout at the Gaol. Guests were arrested, thrown in cells and a prisoner, the 17 year old escapologist Duck Cameron was strung up in a straight jacket and escaped. It has taken me 25 years to get re booked at the Gaol and I managed to track Duck down, he’d just arrived back in Australia after touring internationally with his show Let the Magic Begin”
The entertainment was set in the early 1900’s to compliment the feel of the gaol. Policemen were supervising the new intake of prisoners. Inmates wearing masks of Silence and Separation were everywhere.
The Police Sergeant inducted the new prisoners, gave them some survival tips and marched them off to the cells, moving them from cell to cell to network. After several cell moves the Sergeant called for a volunteer from the audience to assist the police constable to demonstrate how to put on a straight jacket and everyone joined in the song “Woe the Old Straight Jacket”. Then the convicts started a riot, by banging their tin cups on the railings.
Suddenly the Constable is overwhelmed by the convicts, strung up and hoisted. Miraculously he escapes, runs out of the gaol chased by all the prisoners out towards the Watchouse.
The cast – Duck Cameron (Escapologist), Leonie Collins- (Polly), Jamie McGuane (Police Sergeant), Penny Palman (Dolly)
The Former City Watch House
The Watch House has been preserved pretty much as it was when closed in 1994. There is a central passageway with a dozen or so cells on either side. These cells were used as showcase venues for a number of exhibitors including a cloakroom staffed by Caliber and pamper room by Pure Chica (something the previous inhabitants surely missed)
Then there are a number of bars featuring – Campari cocktails, the Zest bar with a bunch of mad doctors and nurses administering cocktails via syringe (very bizarre) and a tequila shot bar hosted by Make Believe Music
The entertainment in the cells included tarot readings by Arcana Star, temporary tattoos, a caricaturist and a bean bag chill out room.
To this observer the cleverest use of the cells was by NICA who allowed guests to peep through the hatch in the cell door to observe a burlesque performer. NICA also provided a number of performers in the main passageway.
The only real issue with this configuration was that guests had no idea that there was more entertainment, food and drinks available in a number of other rooms off the main central passageway – signage could have helped the initial crush or the band could have been located in the adjacent bar and the sound would have drawn guests through.
However after a hour or so guest had discovered the bar out the back, the soup kitchen, the lolly bar and the Rock Star for a Day recording studio and there was plenty of outdoor space for those who had to have their gaspers.
Once the initial crush was over this kicked on as a very lively party in the tradition (albeit very short tradition) of RSVP parties.
Oh and did I mention the near naked models wandering around asking to be painted with chocolate…
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The client – RSVP – Delwin Kriel event manager
Event Management – Troy Stasinowsky and Kirsten Egan
Catering and waitstaff – Marekai
Head Chef – Marek Niedzwiecki
Wine Supplier – Frontier Wines
Energy Drinks – Free Energy
Lighting – Airstar
AV – Wwave
Furniture – Complete Function Hire
Echidna Pod – Bedouin Tents
Transport – Sita Coaches
Table lighting in Watch House – Fabricadabra
Show Bags – Venues 2 Events
Leonie Collins Presentation Unlimited (Gaol Production)
NICA (Circus Acts/ Peep Show)
Make Believe Music (Band / DJ)
Big Bald & Bloody Funny (Caricaturist)
Rock Star for a Day (Recording Studio)
Zest Bar (Naughty Nurses Lounge)
Campari House (Campari Cell)
Pure Chica (Pamper Rooms)
Music Theatre Australia (Tattoo Artist)
Chocolate Prints (Chocolate Cell / Chocolate body painting)
Chill Zone (Bean Bags)
Caliber (Promotional Models)
Arcana Star (Tarot Reader / Belly Dancers)
Candy Buffet Company (Lolly bar)