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Topic: The mess from show to show...
Message: Posted by: frankieacemagic (Jan 19, 2014 09:10PM)
How do you manage the mess from show to show? I've been searching the forum about prop management, and I've found lots of info on storing props. But I'm just wondering how you all pack up and get out the door to the next show without a)getting mauled and b)keeping your props in order. I've read that many of you place your props back in your case, but what about those of us who don't work out of a case? I have a Danny Orleans set up--a luggage suitcase and a fold up table. All of the props come out of the case and go into the table. I've been using a sort of "dump duffel bag" under my table that the tricks go into when I'm done, something I zip up when the show's over, but some of the larger props don't fit. So it rarely works out the way I want it to. And as you all know, if the show doesn't go back into a case quickly, then the kids can "attack," even WHEN I make it explicit to the parents that the kids need to go to another room after the show. I'd love to hear different ways people manage the clean up and escape!

Thanks!
Message: Posted by: bowers (Jan 19, 2014 09:34PM)
9 out of ten time's when I do a show.
I go on first and afterward's the parent's
cut the birthday cake and then unwrap the present's.
I usely try to plan this when I'm booking a event.
This give's me time to pack up and load my prop's
in my SUV while the kid's are busy.
Todd
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jan 19, 2014 09:42PM)
Check out this thread:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=536129&forum=17

Check out threads in "The Workshop forum": http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewforum.php?forum=26&39916

You might want to use more pack small, play big tricks. Dan Harlan has a DVD out on that: http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/S4556

Purchase "Arthur & Leslie Stead's Birthday Finale" CD. It helps leads the children into a different room after your show into doing something else to keep their attention why you are packing up: http://www.arthurstead.com/Products.htm
Message: Posted by: frankieacemagic (Jan 19, 2014 09:57PM)
Mike, as soon as I posted my question, I started searching Google with key words and found the first thread you mentioned. I felt pretty dumb I didn't see that. Thank you for the second thread. I've seen that Dan Harlan DVD advertised. I definitely pondered that. My problem isn't having big props, really. It's getting them all back into the container they came in...FAST.

Thanks, Todd, for your suggestion. YOu're right now that I think about it. The kid's bday parties always seem to go better than the "family parties." Kid's bday parties are typically moving from event to event pretty efficiently because the show has a definitive time limit. It's those parties with all the relatives over that can become messy. Adults are sitting around, chatting, watching the football game, some moms in the kitchen, and after the show, the kids are all unattended VERY interested in the magician and his "stuff."
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Jan 19, 2014 09:59PM)
I think Mike has been channeling Donald lately.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jan 19, 2014 11:12PM)
Call me Donaldmike. :)
Message: Posted by: MickNZ (Jan 20, 2014 01:49AM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-19 22:10, frankieacemagic wrote:
How do you manage the mess from show to show? I've been searching the forum about prop management, and I've found lots of info on storing props. But I'm just wondering how you all pack up and get out the door to the next show without a)getting mauled and b)keeping your props in order. I've read that many of you place your props back in your case, but what about those of us who don't work out of a case? I have a Danny Orleans set up--a luggage suitcase and a fold up table. All of the props come out of the case and go into the table. I've been using a sort of "dump duffel bag" under my table that the tricks go into when I'm done, something I zip up when the show's over, but some of the larger props don't fit. So it rarely works out the way I want it to. And as you all know, if the show doesn't go back into a case quickly, then the kids can "attack," even WHEN I make it explicit to the parents that the kids need to go to another room after the show. I'd love to hear different ways people manage the clean up and escape!

Thanks!
[/quote]

Use less props.

When I do a kids show everything comes out of my case, I do the trick, it goes back into the same place. No pre-show setup, no post-show pack down. No dump bag. No mess.
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (Jan 20, 2014 08:07AM)
Todd hit the nail on the head. If the kids head off to eat cake and refreshments, you have time to put things away. In my case, I often make balloon animals right after the show so I don't have time to put much away but I use a pair of Joe Lefler Pro Suitcase tables. This allows me to put things inside the table as soon as the show is over so it's not as easy to spot my props. I push the tables back until they are touching my backdrop so they would have to move the tables to get inside them. The rest is management of the children. I'm very quick to nicely say "It's okay to look but it's not okay to touch." I, also, point out that they must stay in front of the tables. I keep an eye on my tables as I twist the balloons and make sure I say something if one of the children starts to get too curious.
Message: Posted by: frankieacemagic (Jan 20, 2014 11:38AM)
Hey Mick! That sounds wonderful, using less props. Would you mind briefly describing what sort of props you use and how you make the most of those fewer props? That would help me immensely. Thank you!
Message: Posted by: frankieacemagic (Jan 20, 2014 11:39AM)
Hey Michael--I don't use a backdrop, but you're right; that would help. I tried a Lefler table for a while. Oy. My back. So you have both tables filled???! Are they two of the smaller tables? Thanks for any response!!
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (Jan 20, 2014 11:57AM)
They're actually the large pro tables. Yes, they are heavy! I have them pretty full because I have material for multiple shows in them. If I find out that my audience is made up of kids that saw me recently (it happens regularly enough) and I didn't know that in advance, I can change what I'm doing on the spot.

Here's a photo of my setup:
[img]http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/18/8rg4.jpg[/img]

That was a library show but it's the same setup I use for birthday parties.
Message: Posted by: NYCTwister (Jan 20, 2014 12:38PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-19 22:34, bowers wrote:
9 out of ten time's when I do a show.
I go on first and afterward's the parent's
cut the birthday cake and then unwrap the present's.
I usely try to plan this when I'm booking a event.
This give's me time to pack up and load my prop's
in my SUV while the kid's are busy.
Todd
[/quote]

That is great advice.
I always try to convince the parent to have the cake and presents immediately after I'm done.
The kids may love you but hey, cake is cake.

Other than that maybe you can fasten Velcro, or some other organizing device, inside your suitcase.
If the props came out of it they should be able to go back in.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Jan 20, 2014 12:51PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-20 12:57, Michael Messing wrote:
They're actually the large pro tables. Yes, they are heavy! I have them pretty full because I have material for multiple shows in them. If I find out that my audience is made up of kids that saw me recently (it happens regularly enough) and I didn't know that in advance, I can change what I'm doing on the spot.

Here's a photo of my setup:
[img]http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/18/8rg4.jpg[/img]

That was a library show but it's the same setup I use for birthday parties.
[/quote]

That's an interesting photograph, Michael - even though your backdrop and tables are in place, the shot is wide enough to show all the other clutter.

This is so commonplace, I find many venues are similar.

In my opinion, this photo demonstrates the HUGE difference a backdrop can make.

As far as I'm concerned, that's the answer, get a JJ backdrop, and you can set up your show behind it. Tell the kids they can't come "backstage" until you tell them, then pull the backdrop behind your set-up and you're good to go. At the end, reverse the process.

Having a backdrop makes a massive difference.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jan 20, 2014 01:12PM)
FrankieAceMagic>>>>

In THIS forum (little darlings) on Dec. 14,2013, you asked (relatively) THE SAME QUESTION!!!!!!! DID YOU READ A N Y OF THE COMMENTS, SUGGESTIONS, ETC.?????????????????????????

I wrote two separate replies. One reply discussed the logistics, The second gave you my complete program. A great number of others offered very good suggestions and comments, also.

Far too many "magicians" (who advertise themselves as PROFESSIONALLS) do a relatively good job, practicing skills and presentations, and rehearsing the act, (there's a vast difference between PRACTICING and REHEARSING!

They never seem to plan moving in, setting up, blocking,packing, and moving out. For those who work "casuals" (kid parties, family parties, BLUE & GOLD DINNERS, ETC., the logistics noted in the previous sentence are especially critical!!! But, very few of them seem to pay any attention to these very necessary things.

From what I infer from your previous ??? in December--and your current ???, NOTHING appears to have been even slightly registered!!!!!

I also infer that you are "prop heavy". I'm guessing that you bought "half a magic shop" and are trying to use it all in a 30 minute kid show. THE PERFORMER IS ALWAYS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PROP!!!!! (That's a hard lesson for some would be magicians to grasp and understand.)

"We" continually read questions in the various fora that immediately tell "us" that the questioner is expecting "us" to do FOR him, what he should be doing for himself. ("ONE LEARNS BY DOING THE THING!" --Sophocles said that a few thousand years ago!)

You need to READ! Fitzkee, Nelms, Weber, et al.--maybe my book which will be "out" by summer would help.

Forget about DITCH BAGS! That, IMHO, is a sign of someone who hasn't blocked his show.

I faced these same problems when I was a young man, There was no magic Café, no internet, etc. So, I planned and produced my own show--and toured it for almost fifty years~-successfully. If I could do it, you could do it! Go! Do your "homework"!
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Jan 20, 2014 02:41PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-20 13:51, Potty the Pirate wrote:
As far as I'm concerned, that's the answer, get a JJ backdrop, and you can set up your show behind it. Tell the kids they can't come "backstage" until you tell them, then pull the backdrop behind your set-up and you're good to go. At the end, reverse the process.

Having a backdrop makes a massive difference.
[/quote]
That's fine until you are performing in the front room of a council house. You need to be able to offer a show that does not require backdrops and back stage areas, even if you prefer to be able to go the whole hog when the room suits.

Prop management is easy for me. Nothing requires a reset and most of the stuff goes back into my pockets or the briefcase. In a big venue I can set up the backdrop and sound system. But the show doesn't need them.

So the answer is 'use less props'.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Jan 20, 2014 02:46PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-20 15:41, TonyB2009 wrote:
[quote]
On 2014-01-20 13:51, Potty the Pirate wrote:
As far as I'm concerned, that's the answer, get a JJ backdrop, and you can set up your show behind it. Tell the kids they can't come "backstage" until you tell them, then pull the backdrop behind your set-up and you're good to go. At the end, reverse the process.

Having a backdrop makes a massive difference.
[/quote]
That's fine until you are performing in the front room of a council house. You need to be able to offer a show that does not require backdrops and back stage areas, even if you prefer to be able to go the whole hog when the room suits.

Prop management is easy for me. Nothing requires a reset and most of the stuff goes back into my pockets or the briefcase. In a big venue I can set up the backdrop and sound system. But the show doesn't need them.

So the answer is 'use less props'.
[/quote]

Au contraire, Tony, a JJ backdrop sets up perfectly in even the smallest of council houses, and can be used exactly as I've described. In small spaces, it becomes quite extraordinary - I'm sure you can imagine it, if you care to think about it. Imagine just being able to put up a big curtain absolutely anywhere (indoors).
Message: Posted by: arthur stead (Jan 20, 2014 05:32PM)
Managing props smoothly from show to show takes a lot of thought and careful planning. You need to work out which props can be stored in your suitcase or roll-on table, in such a way that they are always ready for the next show. Then plan to be able put those props away in their allocated places DURING a show as you transition from one trick to the next.

Other props, that don't fit into that category, have to be re-set either at the end of your show while you're packing up, or before the next show while you're setting up. I prefer to re-set them right after each show while I'm packing up.

Then there are props with special considerations which can't just be dumped somewhere (like silks, which you want to fold neatly, or a wooden prop which you may want to place in bubble wrap so it doesn't get scratched). Each of those needs a place of its own.

Small gimmicks such as TT's or Hank Balls can also be stored in special open-top holders or slots in your table or suitcase, allowing easy access while performing. Same thing with sponge balls, etc.

I personally always use a "dump box" which folds flat when not in use. It holds certain props during my performance, as well as allowing me to dispose of other props at the completion of those tricks. At the end of the show, those items go back into their pre-planned storage areas, the dump box is folded flat, placed in my suitcase, and away I go to the next gig!

Mike, thanks for mentioning our Birthday Finale routine. It is a really magical and memorable way to end a birthday party. But it's also a life-saver when it comes to being able to pack up quietly, undisturbed by little nose-pickers!

Also, I agree with Dick Oslund. No matter where you perform - in living rooms, in theaters or on TV - rehearsing and blocking are vitally important. I rehearse my show so well that I never have to fumble around, or turn my back on the audience, or cross my arms awkwardly. For example, if I need to pick up a prop with my left hand during a routine, I make sure that prop is stored in my roll-on table, which is to my left. If I need to pick up a prop with my right hand, I plan to have it sitting on my side table or dump box, which are always to my right. And the same thinking applies for dumping props.

If we're going to try to elevate our art, then we need to think, plan, strategize, script, revise, and re-revise! And THEN start rehearsing and blocking your shows, over and over again, until everything runs as smoothly as possible. Study your movements in a mirror. Or video tape yourself. You might be amazed at how many awkward things you discover! (One small example: ensure that when a "message" or picture silk is produced, it is always displayed the right way up without any fumbling).

Once you've discovered all the weak points in your performance, the next step is to work hard to eliminate all those flaws. Believe me, you'll be glad you did. And not only that; your audiences will perceive you as much more professional.

Oh and by the way, back to the OP's question: once your show is fully rehearsed, then start rehearsing the setting up and tearing down process. I make a point of timing myself doing this, so I know exactly what to expect long before the show us actually performed in front of an audience.

OK, I'll step off my soap box now ....
Message: Posted by: frankieacemagic (Jan 20, 2014 05:33PM)
Hey Dick! Your response cracked me up...only because you sound like my wife! The reason I asked the same question is because there's something in me (in whatever I do) that's just never satisfied. It was from those responses (yours included!) that I learned about packing smaller, using a dump bag, which I had never heard of before, and sending out a document that tells the parents exactly what I need from them. All from that thread. As far as prop heavy, not really. I do 10 to 11 effects for a 45 minute show (probably too many), and the 3 "large props" I use are the Axtell drawing board, the 3 Card Joe, and the Pizza Box. So there's definitely no half a magic shop. Actually, now that I think of it, I dumped my large Hippity Hops after reading that thread because I realized I didn't need to carry around PB and j and the Hippity Hops.

It's also funny that you quote Sophocles. I teach high school and college English and philosophy :)

Suffice it to say, I should have prefaced my question with the info that I HAVE made adjustments--did the work on my end, the homework--but am still dissatisfied. I didn't mean to frustrate you with the redundancy or the implication that I didn't read your postings. I've made lots of changes, still frustrated with my packing up speed, and thought I'd see if new people would respond with ideas.

Dick, you're a legend. I appreciate your time. I swear I've been making adjustments. Thanks for your input on the change bag.
Message: Posted by: frankieacemagic (Jan 20, 2014 05:35PM)
Arthur! I've never thought of rehearsing the breakdown of everything. So obvious and such a good suggestion. After all, I only breakdown my show 2-4 times a week. That's not enough time to get good at it! Thank you!!!
Message: Posted by: arthur stead (Jan 20, 2014 05:51PM)
LOL, Frankie! Of course I meant to rehearse your set-up/breakdown only for each new show you develop ... BEFORE performing it. (I have several shows, each of which has different props and set-up times).
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Jan 20, 2014 05:59PM)
It's FEWER props, not LESS props.

Dick is dead-on here. Even though you never know what kind of room you'll be in you can block your show. Blocking can include something as simple as prop placement inside your case or table. I practice doing a move, but I rehearse that move in a routine and that routine within a complete show.

Michael, that is a lot of stuff to bring into a house for a birthday party. Not knowing your show, at least the parents would be impressed with the set-up.

I have never successfully been able to pack-as-I-go, but I can have my birthday show packed in about 5-6 minutes. If I am in a real hurry, I can be out of there in one minute and tidy up in my car.

I have a pdf document that I send out to parents. It not only spells out my expectations, but tells them WHY. When they understand the benefit to them, they are more likely to plan the party the way we ask. We do scores of them each year, they do a few, maybe as few as one. When we can get them so comply with our expectations, we are way ahead of the game.

To the British chaps: What is a council house?
Message: Posted by: frankieacemagic (Jan 20, 2014 06:03PM)
Hey Arthur. Man, I just reread your reply. THANK YOU THANK YOU For all of those suggestions. Seriously. But I really do love the idea of running through my show in my basement, having it all scattered about (relatively organized), then practicing the packing up over and over. I really meant it when I said 2-4 times a week isn't really enough time to get truly proficient at it! I rhink about my restaurant magic (I'm heading into Francesca's now :) and I think about how habitual everything is for me. I've been doing restaurants a long time and repeating the same 6-7 effects over and over. It's really all muscle memory! And that, I think, is what I need to do with packing up my stand up shows. I think if I were full time and performed and packed up every day, I WOULD get better at the clean up and escape. But as it stands, I just don't do it enough to feel satisfied. It think that's what Dick was telling me. Anyway, thank you again!
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Jan 20, 2014 06:12PM)
Potty, I am sure a big backdrop with two foot behind it for set-up would look great in a council house front room. But as most council houses have a small front room, that two foot chunk is a big portion of the space available. For a big party where do the kids go? Out in the yard, looking in the window?

In the UK it is quite common to perform in parish halls. For those who market themselves to the more affluent they play in big rooms in big houses. But those of us who play city apartments, working class estates, etc, often find ourselves in places where the big productions are completely inappropriate.

I am not saying not to have a big production. I am only saying it is wise to have a small show for those occasions were that is what will fit.
Message: Posted by: MickNZ (Jan 20, 2014 06:57PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-20 12:38, frankieacemagic wrote:
Hey Mick! That sounds wonderful, using less props. Would you mind briefly describing what sort of props you use and how you make the most of those fewer props? That would help me immensely. Thank you!
[/quote]

Sure. Use stuff that fits in your case. That's it :)

I won't even buy a trick (for my birthday show, since that's what's being discussed here) if it won't fit into my case.

As an example, I get about five minutes and some BIG laughs (from kids and parents) out of a few silks and a change bag. It's not about the tricks you do, it's about how you do them. I'm sure we've all seen guys who have thousands of dollars worth of expensive props all over the stage and they perform them like a dealer-demo with no presentation or entertainment value at all.

Personality packs lighter than props do, and people enjoy it more!
Message: Posted by: frankieacemagic (Jan 20, 2014 08:45PM)
Starrpower, thanks for grammar the check. Off duty :) I agree about the pack as I go. Can't seem to do it.

Those of you who don't use Lefler tables--do you have custom-made cases? Like ATA cases?
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Jan 20, 2014 09:09PM)
What's the weight of those tables. anyway (anyweigh?) They look heavy!
Message: Posted by: frankieacemagic (Jan 20, 2014 09:37PM)
The one I used was about 50lbs. The weight wasn't the problem; it was swinging it in and out of the car that really got to me. And yes, the shows in the basements and 3rd floors. Ouch. So heavy. This is my 14th year as a part timer, and I'm almost 40. I read on one of the threads that most magicians get to this point: they want to perform just as well as they have been, but with fewer props. It's like they're going monastic, or channeling Thoreau's "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity." Or my favorite from Antoine de St Exupery, "You know you've achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away." I think that's what I'm looking for. So do I dump the drawing board and the pizza box and get the small axtell board and a much smaller die box? Probably would work! But oh man, that smokey mountain Pizza oven has been calling my name for months. So seductive....that's a big prop!
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Jan 20, 2014 10:15PM)
Reducing the size and quantity is not good if it results in a lower quality show.

A table that is 50 lbs empty is crazy! Even on wheels, there is too much of the things you mentioned -- stairs, in and out of cars, and so on. I've always made my own. 50 lbs LOADED would be too much!
Message: Posted by: Ed_Millis (Jan 21, 2014 01:21AM)
I built a table onto a collapsable hand truck (dolly): http://m.samsclub.com/ip/magna-cart-folding-hand-truck/prod7290002 The sides fold up and everthing fits inside. Roll into the home, unfold the sides, push the handle down, and attach the top. I can go from there if I have to, though I prefer to set things up a bit first. I also have one of those collapsable laundry bags that catches things when I'm done.

Ed
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jan 21, 2014 05:54AM)
I thought that I had THE "easy to schlepp" show, until I apent a week as a guest of Karrell Fox! We had been friends for years. I was working a shopping mall in Detroit. Karrell said, "Don't get a motel. The kids are at summer camp. We have a room for you."

One night he showed me his birthday party prop case. It was about the size of a SHOE BOX. In it was a pair of Chinese Sticks, a TT and 2 12" silks, an egg bag, a breakaway wand, 3 pieces of rope, (prof. nightmare) 3 linking rings and a 24" silk in a bag, tissue paper for Cecil Lyle's PAPER HAT, and some paper napkins. THE ONLY 'SET UP' WAS: HE HAD TO 'BALL UP' TWO NAPKINS!

He worked as WOW THE WIZARD. He had a graduation gown covered with 'stars & moons, etc.'. He wore a gray wig and a "pointy" WIZARD'S HAT.

He would walk into the house, sit on a chair, and entertain the moppets for 30 minutes. Then, he closed the prop case, waved "bye bye", picked up the check and left.

THE PERFORMER IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HIS PROPS!
Message: Posted by: kimmo (Jan 21, 2014 07:17AM)
I use two trunks on stands, Props come out of the trunks and then go back in when I'm done with them. At the end of the show it takes 5 minutes or so to reset the props, close the trunks and I'm off. I own a backdrop but very rarely use it.

Karrell Fox's set up sounds great and if large vent puppets weren't such a big feature in my act, that's what I'd be going for!
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Jan 21, 2014 07:23AM)
I am with Kimmo. As puppets become more important to me, I need to carry more. If I had no puppet in my act, I would travel with pockets and nothing more. To be honest the only reason I have the brief case is to have somewhere to put the contents of my pockets when I am not performing.

But puppets take space. You can't minimize there.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Jan 21, 2014 09:16AM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-20 19:12, TonyB2009 wrote:
Potty, I am sure a big backdrop with two foot behind it for set-up would look great in a council house front room. But as most council houses have a small front room, that two foot chunk is a big portion of the space available. For a big party where do the kids go? Out in the yard, looking in the window?

In the UK it is quite common to perform in parish halls. For those who market themselves to the more affluent they play in big rooms in big houses. But those of us who play city apartments, working class estates, etc, often find ourselves in places where the big productions are completely inappropriate.

I am not saying not to have a big production. I am only saying it is wise to have a small show for those occasions were that is what will fit.
[/quote]

The JJ backdrop stands about 8" from the wall. But, in almost any council house, there is furniture in the front room. In this instance, the JJ backdrop will normally hang directly in front of the furniture, with no gap at all. I have never yet encountered a room so small that the JJ backdrop wouldn't fit in....really, until you use one, I suppose it's hard to imagine how it works.

On the matter of having too many large props, on that I agree: if you're in a small room, it's inappropriate to have too many large props.

I don't find myself worrying about packing up, since I frequently change up things in my shows. But, I do rehearse blocking extensively.

That's a strange thing - I use my left arm for some puppets, and my right for others. Bizzarely, I find it almost impossible to use the "wrong" arm for any particular puppet.

I can perfectly produce a 10 foot pole from my left breast pocket, but not my right.

For a long time, I could only perform the vent mask when the spectator was standing on my right; C&R rope only with the kid to my left.

I find it quite useful to learn to do things the "opposite" way.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Jan 21, 2014 07:01PM)
Potty, with eight inches I can see the backdrop fitting. It was just the mention of room to prepare behind that threw me!

I know what you mean about doing some things with one hand and others with the other hand. I learned to box and do judo ambidexterously. But I can only do one-handed cuts and passes with my left hand, and I tend to use my right more for the puppets. Like you I do make an effort to use both sides. But that is work, and I have an allergy to work.