The Cuckoo Club and The Hive in Kochi are the new hot spots of entertainment
Of late, Kochi has been witnessing a surge in performances, live entertainment, workshops and film screenings. The city seems to be evolving to accommodate new forms of entertainment and networking and two new spaces that have been the centre of all the buzz is The Hive and the Cuckoo Club. From stand up comedy, theatre, music to mentalism, they have it all covered and performers across India and abroad have come to perform here like Rahul Dua, Naveen Richards, Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow India and Suhani Shah to name a few. Ritz catches up with Ria Verghese who runs the Cuckoo Club and The Hive in Kochi who gives us details of the inside story!
Interview: Riya Sonny Datson
What was the trigger to launch The Hive and Cuckoo Club in Cochin?
The Hive, founded by Sudeip Nair in Mumbai, is in its eleventh year now. It is India’s most unique, diverse and influential bouquet of experiences that has been at the forefront in nurturing and fostering communities for artists and audiences across comedy, poetry, music, magic, theatre, music, cinema, fringe events, storytelling, spirituality & fitness to name a few. In Mumbai alone Hive curates over 2000 + hours of annual experiences with over one lakh plus audiences and artists that use their spaces.
Hive also owns & operates Mumbai’s premier alternative performing arts theatre, The Cuckoo Club featuring a carefully curated and designed weekly roster of experiences featuring both some of the most established artists in the country and a curated selection of the best artists that have grown out of the Hive.
The Hive & Cuckoo Club coming to Kochi is quite an interesting turn of events. I have known Ayaz for many years and have been a fan of French Toast and his work. He and I have for the longest time been discussing the importance of such a space for Kochi and last year coincidently Sudeip was in Kochi looking for suitable spaces to open up and connecting the dots with Hive / Cuckoo & French toast for me was something that just seemed natural as we all share similar outlooks on Kerala’s intellectual potential and talent in the performing arts. To trim a long story, French Toast has taken franchisees of both Hive at Panampilly Nagar, that will focus on discovery and development within the performing arts and Cuckoo Club at Kacheripady that will focus on curated showcase events across the performing arts. Both are located above their outlets and will focus on giving the people of Kochi the opportunity to discover daily experiences that we feel will set the foundation of building a culture of going out to support and encourage homegrown artists
As Sudeip’s partner for Hive and Cuckoo Club Kerala, across the spaces I lead operations and oversee and curate a calender of experiences alongside a team of some of the most talented facilitators. I have had the pleasure of meeting across the arts and we are designing the first set of regular calendar experiences at our venues in Kochi to make these spaces not just a centre for entertainment but a platform for new artists and a space for skill development and networking, holding true to the Hive mission of nurturing innovation and empowering creativity.
How is the Cuckoo Club different from The Hive?
The best way to explain the difference is to think of Hive as a school with experiences that can take you from a kindergarten skill level to class 12th skill level. It at 80 seats, is a smaller, more intimate space that focuses largely on discovery and development for performing artists and audiences alike. The Cuckoo Club at Kacheripady features a curated roster of some of the most established local and visiting artists and entertainers from around the world and is also a graduation college representative of artists who have passed successfully through Hive. At 250 seats, it is also a larger, focused, black-box performing arts venue with a calendar featuring some of the most established artists from across the country who come and perform here.
Since both the performance spaces are above the popular restaurant, French Toast, do you have a tie up with them?
Yes, as I mentioned earlier, French Toast has taken up these two franchisees exclusively for Kochi. The city has always had a shortage of spaces where audiences and artists alike can hang out, watch a show and grab a hearty and tasty bite. Our audiences are permitted to bring in food and beverage from French Toast and also offer very interesting grab and go custom menus for each of the events we do.
How do you rope in performers from different parts of the country?
Since the brand has been in Mumbai for over a decade, we have a good network of artists from across India and the world who perform with us on a regular basis. We also build a calendar of experiences that promote local artists and help them develop their skill and talent with workshops. They are also given opportunities to collaborate with established artists to take their career to the next level.
What do you think is the USP of Cuckoo Club and The Hive?
Our USP would be the fact that we are very focused on designing a regular and curated entertainment and educational experiences that are focused on multiple communities and varied age groups. Our calendar of events are designed to appeal to audiences 5 years old and above and these events are spread across weekdays and weekends based on who we are catering to as audiences. I have always felt that it is more to do with habit forming; people must come to realise that there are regular alternate forms of live entertainment available in our city. Both venues are also safe spaces for artists to network with other artists and also connect with the audiences who come to watch.
How has the response been from Kochi?
The quality of entertainment that we have showcased over our trial months and the response from the audiences has been very positive and optimistic and we have been performing to packed halls with back to back sold out shows. I have been in Kochi all my life but am witnessing a new audience and a different crowd for each show which is really refreshing.
How do you reach out to the audience?
We are active on social media handles such as Instagram, facebook and Whatsapp through which we spread the word about the performances. We also have a database to which we send updates and links and people can purchase tickets through our payment gateway. Tickets are available online at insider, bookmyshow and also at our venue.
As a new space, what has been your biggest challenge?
Like any new venture, the biggest challenge would be to spread the word, to reach out to new communities that would like to use the space and audiences for our shows each time. Each city is different from the other and when you launch yourself in a new city, though you have a structure in place, it is a challenge to integrate it into the city, to understand the requirements of the audience and to cater to their choices. It is also about creating a habit, an awareness that we have regular events and workshops happening across the week. The performances speak for themselves and so far it has been great.
What is on your bucket list?
Apart from Comedy, Music and Theatre, we hope to host new workshops next month in film making that will cater to a young audience who want to learn more about the art of crafting films. We plan to start a book club, film club, an art club, workshops, meetups for artists and entrepreneurs and offer a variety of summer workshops for children; workshops that are currently available only in other cities. We want parents and children to have an extended commitment with us in terms of learning traditional art forms of dance and music. We also hope to branch out to other cities in Kerala soon.