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Topic: Surprise!! We upscaled your venue!
Message: Posted by: Josh the Superfluous (Jan 8, 2006 10:16AM)
I recently had a show for an organization that I've become a regular. I had a 30 minute show designed for fifteen, 5-10 year olds, in a tiny room, very close. This time the organizers were serving the kids in the main room. They asked me to perform on the big stage for the kids and 4 times as many adults.

I was able to pull it off. But, I don't feel I was fully prepaired for the venue/audience.

My questions are:

Is this common?

How do you avoid this situation upfront?

How bad would it have to get before you refused (e.g.: surrounded on a glass pedestal)?

Should you ever say no? And how could you do it tactfully?

What brought it to mind was this quote by danryb on a different thread:

"I couldn't believe the reactions I once got from an audience of around a thousand people in comparison to a show that I perform for 30 to 100. I thought I was going to be in a small area at a beach front national teachers union function. I was booked to lay on the entertainment for their children. Turns out they had better plans for me and they had me up on this huge stage at a good 15 meters distance from the front row. There was little me with my doc bag, breakaway wand, needle through ballon, multiplying vernet balls, morph dog and a few others in front of this great crowd who laughed their heads off during the full, best, 40 minute programme I have ever had the honor of doing. I realy fealt like the star of the night. great fun."
Message: Posted by: JackScratch (Jan 8, 2006 04:19PM)
Honestly, when you get to zero hour, you do whatever you can do, and you do it as well as you can. Idealy, you want your contract to be very clear on the subject of details and where you will be performing, as well as who you will be performing for. If you get there and what you see and what is on the contract don't match, you leave and sue them for breach of contract.
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jan 8, 2006 05:50PM)
Here's a suggestion - go to your video store and see if you can find any old videos of something called "Rocky and Bullwinkle."

Jay Ward and his crew did these shows back in the late 60's and did them very well - based on what I call the "two levels of humor - no waiting" concept. One level of humor for the kids, which is very open and obvious and one level for the adults, which is less obvious and still quite funny.

By today's standards, the shows are paced a bit slowly, but you will see what I mean when you see gags like the heroes being on "Mount Wantchatakea Peak" and having the following exchange:

Rocky: (as they wake up to find the spies, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatal missing) - Hey Bullwinkle, can you guess who's not here?

Bullwinkle: Well, Prince Savanapuma, for one!

Done in the character voices and with a knowldege of the people involved, I have to admit that I was on the floor with that one.

Using theatrical asides to the adults is a great way to play this so you entertain both sides of the room - the kids and the grown-ups.

Docc Hilford once answered when a woman who had seen his kid's show: "I do the same show for adults, only I do it a lot slower!"

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: Josh the Superfluous (Jan 8, 2006 07:28PM)
Lee, I understand how to make a show enjoyable on different levels (and I'm old enough to remember Rocky & Bullwinkle et al). But for years my experience with this venue had been with very small children and a couple of activity supervisors. My show went over well, but it was tailored to a different setting.

My question is: if the client drastically changes the venue (e.g. strolling to platform, or close-up to stage) do you make due, possibly compromising your show, or do you somehow decline or compromise?

I'm sure the more experienced performers could make the adjustments on the fly. But picture this, 15 minutes before showtime your informed half the audience doesn't speak english, and the drink line wraps around the back of the stage. What do you do?
Message: Posted by: Sid Mayer (Jan 8, 2006 11:15PM)
Join the line.
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jan 10, 2006 02:06AM)
Well, now you know what contracts are for. Sorry to cound callous, but this is where things can get dicey for a performer and why it is always best to have everything in writing about what is expected of you. This way, if the client tries to pull something like:

"Oh, I know we asked ou to stroll the crowd for thirty minutes, but we really need a a two-hour stage illusion show - you DID bring your tiger, didn't you?" game, you can haul out the contract and pull the line we have used in the Dorsai Irregulars (a 501 (c) 3 corporation that does security at science fiction and Star Trek conventions where "mission creep" can run you into the ground and into bankruptcy faster than you can say "Live long, and Prosper!"):

"Sorry, that's not in the contract."

It is a VERY useful phrase to get you out of (and keep you from getting into) trouble. It also helps insure that you get paid what the client agreed to pay you.

Remember: the middle word in "CLIENT" is "LIE." And sometimes, they will.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: abc (Jan 12, 2006 12:36AM)
I agree with everything Lee said but I just want to add the following which I learned from a few very bad experiences. Even if you ask the client vry specific questions about the event they do not always consider their answers to be extremely important. What is the average age of the audience could differ hugely if you do not stress how important it is.
So the moral of the story is try to be prepared for minor changes but not major ones. Pack small enough to be able to do a 30 minute stage show at any time (but be sure it is a show you have rehearsed properly) while at the same time be ready to do a strolling show or close up. If the client wants you to change form close up to illusions then you can not and have to refuse but changing the audience size or the venue could be adapted for if you are ready and willing.
Last note though always keep that contract handy.
Message: Posted by: rikbrooks (Jan 12, 2006 06:55AM)
Lee, actually the middle word in Client is Lien - the right to keep someone's property until a debt is paid.

...but that doesn't make a lot of sense in this context, does it?
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jan 13, 2006 02:51AM)
No, Rik, "Lien" is the SECOND word in "client."

cLIEnt - then cLIENt

Lie before lein, except after C(ash) - you know that!

Lee Darrow, C.H.