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Topic: Ideas on "Advancing" Shows?
Message: Posted by: Dan McLean Jr aka, Magic Roadie (Jul 6, 2003 05:26PM)
Soon, I'll be adding an article to MagicRoadie.com about how to "advance" a show. Advancing is the practice of confirming any technical arrangements with the client/promoter/venue ahead of time. This could include audio, lighting, stage, sightlines, or anything else you need done (or avoided) to make sure your show goes off witout a hitch. Does anyone have any stories or suggestions relating to "advancing" which they think I should include in the article?
Thanks in advance for your help!
Message: Posted by: Jeff Haas (Jul 6, 2003 11:39PM)

One thing...what if you're working through an event planner?

I get booked for a lot of shows this way. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Message: Posted by: Jim Snack (Jul 16, 2003 10:21AM)

Great site with lots of useful information!

Regarding "advancing," school shows require special consideration. I'll be conducting a session on this very topic specifically for performers doing school shows later this year at three live seminars in New Jersey, Florida and California (see http://www.magicsuccessseminars.com for more information).

Advancing school shows can be challenging because, unlike legit theaters, you are dealing with someone who does not have technical theater experience so they take things for granted that an experienced techie would not.

For example, one important question I always ask is, "Is the stage used for anything else?"

Once I arrived at a school to find the teachers sitting at tables set onstage enjoying their lunch. I could not setup until they finished.

Another time, I discovered the school copy machine in the wings. Several times during the show a teacher would enter backstage and begin using the copy machine!

Always ask if the stage is used for any rehearsals (band or drama club). It is very common to arrive at a school to find the stage filled with band equipment and only one custodian who plans on clearing it ten minutes before show time!

If I'm doing an evening show at a high school, I ALWAYS ask who has the key to the lighting booth and/or light board. Even though I ask to use all the stage lights for the show, the school contact assumes all I need are the flourescent work lights. Then on the night of the show I discover everything locked up. It is typically the music teacher who has the key and who normally would not be present the night of the show to set up the dimmer board.

There are many other logistic issues that affect school shows which I'll be covering in the upcoming school show seminars this fall. I'll be happy to supply an article for your website on all the questions I ask when advancing a school show.
Message: Posted by: Andy Leviss (Jul 17, 2003 02:23AM)
Get it in writing! Technical riders are your friend and, if you don't have one, no matter how many times you confirm things orally, it's your own fault in the end when things don't go right.
Message: Posted by: Eldon (Jul 17, 2003 01:33PM)
I use riders and make the calls. I've done this for years. But I would say at least 50 percent of the time things aren't right. Dan is also right. I do a lot of school shows and you never know what you are getting into. I just go expecting to find the worst conditions possible. I take everything with me I could possibly need. It's a pain taking all the extra equipment but in the end it's worth it.
Message: Posted by: Dan McLean Jr aka, Magic Roadie (Jul 17, 2003 06:04PM)
Thanks for the ideas, everyone, and please keep 'em comin'! The article already makes mention of riders but I will CERTAINLY consider a greater emphasis on them.

I've also made mention of weekend shows in schools, Jim, but I really appreciate your comments because you've made a couple of extra points. If it's okay with you, I imagine I'll quote a couple of them in the article!

By the way, several other articles are already online at http://www.magicroadie.com.
Message: Posted by: Jim Snack (Jul 17, 2003 08:08PM)

Feel free to quote me in your articles.

You've got a great website going!

Message: Posted by: Andy Leviss (Jul 17, 2003 10:03PM)
That's another thought, make sure there are terms of enforcement in the rider. Make the client sign acknowleging that they have read and understood the terms of the rider, and understand that, barring a written agreement otherwise, failure to meet the terms will result in a cancellation of the performance with the fee still being paid.

Get an attorney to look over the wording and help with it, so that you can be sure it's fairly worded and enforceable in court if you need it to be.
Message: Posted by: Backroomboy (Aug 26, 2003 06:29AM)
Sssssssttttt. (Simulation of fingers touching hot tip.) The rider is king. Long live the rider.
Message: Posted by: the levitator (Aug 26, 2003 11:15AM)
After a couple of shows where relying on other people for production caused big problems, I decided to invest in my own gear. This isn't practical for everyone, but if you have your own staging, lighting, and PA, you don't have to sweat someone else jeopardizing your show. I only have two assistants for my platform show, my on-stage assistant and a tech who does my stage set up and runs lights and PA.

If I'm lucky enough to be performing an event where they have a knowledgeable stage staff that knows lighting and PA—and I don't have to bring my own—I've had pretty good luck with forwarding a video of my performance to the stage manager to give them an idea of what my show consists of. Saves a lot of time instead of trying to explain everything over the phone or through emails. I also have a complete list of my own gear so they have a good idea of what we normally use to accomplish our show. They can compare that list to their own. Even if they have lighting and PA, I always bring my tech. to run the show anyway. Of course our platform show is pretty much run by computer, but it's kind of a pain to set up. Of course if they don't have a MIDI compatible lightboard, then we do it the old-fashioned way.