From Venue Magazine No. 736, 13 – 22 October 2006
Ahh… The Cube – the mini cinema-cum-music venue-cum-centre for all manner of offbeat fringe performance and haphazard chaos that lurks just off Stokes Croft. Defined more by the bunch of passionately constructive volunteers and performers that pass through its doors as much as any statement of corporate intent, there is quite simply nowhere else quite like it. Its inclusion as some kind of anthropomorphic entity in this list might appear odd, but the personality of The Cube is such that, well, it just feels like a slightly eccentric old friend. And, true to form, when Venue picks up the phone for a quick chat about the years gone by, our questions end up being answered by about 10 people, many of whom repeat and contradict each other. It’s wonderfully uncoordinated. But since its factory conversion into a theatre in 1964 (The Cube itself was born in its current guise some 34 years later), the place has somehow managed to pull off a rampaging weekly programme of screenings, art exhibitions, cabaret, workshops, gatherings, gigs and parties. Yet despite two entrances, the cinema and the colourful Cube-ist graffiti adorning the outer walls, many people still aren’t aware it even exists. You used to have to enter the place through a Chinese restaurant but even with the face-lift, you can’t help but feel you’re part of a secret special club when you go in.
The films on rotation include shorts, independents and some of the more interesting, lowbudget flicks that avoid mainstream billing, but that’s not to say yer Wallaces ‘n’ Gromits, Sin Cities and Donnie Darkos of this world don’t get an airing too. The rest of the eclectic event list ranges across just about anything you can dream up, from masked balls to virtuoso piano recitals to political debates to Elvis-themed Christmas parties. The only link that ties it all together is a core desire to develop a centre for free-thinking, uninhibited imaginations where people can get inspired and inspire others. The volunteers pick up skills – barmen become projectionists and ushers become sound technicians – and whether it’s after a fresh cup of homebrew cola or some off-kilter event or leftfield film; it’s hard to imagine anyone leaving The Cube exactly as they went in. It’s a lesson in what you can collectively achieve with a bit of hope, imagination, skill and gaffer tape.