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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Audience Participation On the Street (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Jeff Dial
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Kent, WA
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While contemplating a street act the question arose: How much, if any, audience participation can be used?

Some I know would use no spectators and others make it a feature of their act. The type of participation I'm talking about would include things like a linking ring routine with the audience member on stage the entire routine, egg bag routine w/spectator, mentalism (mental magic for you real mentalist), etc.

In your experience does the use of members of the audience work on the street?
"Think our brains must be too highly trained, Majikthise" HHGG
Danny Hustle
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In my experience the more you break down the fourth wall and use your audience, the more money you will make.

People are more likely to pay you for something they feel as though they were a part of versus something they witnessed.

My 2 cents, YMMV.

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! I’m so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
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DoctorAmazo
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Never having done "street", I can't speak from experience, but...

Danny's comments ring true from a logical and psychological standpoint. He also has the street experience to back them up.

I would agree that the more involved you can make your audience (the WHOLE audience), the bigger the hats. They are also less likely to walk if they have a "part" in the play.

On the downside, anytime you use volunteers, you introduce an element of uncertainty. You must be prepared for any weirdness that ensues.
Missing_Link
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I do juggling/ sideshow stuff on the street - I always use spectators. Build rapport, flit with the cute ones, get help with tricks, do stunts involving "volunteers", whatever. As in any arena, audiences love to feel that you performed with them, not at them.

ML
Quest
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Very hard for your audience to walk away if you are holding an item of theirs, money, rings, etc. And if doing a big routine it can be nice to let a member hold some of the examinable props as you go...but DoctorAmazo is right, you don't want to pick that drunk to hold something, or the kids who will run off with it the moment you hand it to them Smile
Quest

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Pokie-Poke
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Yes, use volunteers, use the whole audience if you can! Having them chant or clap on cue, once you get them moving, they are what will bring in more people.

I don't want to sound sexist but women and children first! Guys tend to either not want to do anything, (you can still play with this) or run the show. I tend to get better reactions from the ladies and kids, and it is the reaction I'm looking for. It can take a so-so trick and make it a show stopper! Be ready for this so you don't squash the response.
Using your audience is risky, there will always be surprises, but that can be entertaining too.

When in the street I don't "do magic" and I don't "do juggling" I do a show. and it is all part of the show.
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Danny Hustle
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Quote:
On 2002-09-24 11:22, Pokie-Poke wrote:
it can take a so so trick and make it a show stoper! Be ready for this so you don't squash the response.


Pokie always has these great little nuggets in his posts.

Remember YOU are the show, not the thing you do.

Don't squash the response (One of my biggest mistakes when I first got out on the street).

Good stuff!

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! I’m so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Allen Gittelson
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Do what is right for your act. As for me personally, I definitely involve my audience as much, as soon, and as often as possible.

If you take people from the audience and get them to participate, then at very least they stick around and usually they are with someone else or a group and they stick around to watch and if they are involved it seems to others watching that what is going on is worth their interest and they are willing to watch and possibly get involved. It also shows the performer as the person in charge of the situation. Many elements just build on each other.

For example, I have a piece I perform on the street that involves 4 spectators at the same time. Once I have these 4 people involved at least they are going to stick around to see what happens. Usually those 4 people are with at least 1 other person each. So now, the people they are with will stick around. Also, there are a bunch of people involved in something on the street very obviously as a part of my act and nothing gathers a crowd like a crowd.

One other thing besides getting objects of theirs involved that can keep them around is to give them items of yours. Be careful, as they could just walk or run off with whatever it is, though I've never had that happen. I hand out pieces of rope for them to check out as part of the rope routine that I use as an opener and crowd builder. I find that if they have the rope in hand and I don't take it back, because I'm not ready for that part of the act yet, that they usually stick around with rope in hand to see what happens.

In thoughts,
Allen
Patrick Redford
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Yes use your audience but do it in a way that actually makes them MAKE the show.

If one just uses an audience member as a prop - what good does it do to create an experience for the audience. If one's audience isn't some how involved with making one's show different everytime - why are they there?

A serious question I like to ask of myself.

If the audience isn't playing a role that effects or plays into the performance, they are simply a prop, window dressing, an annoyence that 'gets in the way'.

This isn't the sort of message I would wish to promote.

I wouldnt want my audience to feel in the way. Or feel that the magic is being forced upon them.



just a thought.
Jeff Dial
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Thanks for the input. My question was inspired by the Cellini lecture. He said (unless I was badly mistaken) that he shys away from using audience members. Maybe it has more to do with the effects he choses to do rather than use of spectators in general.
"Think our brains must be too highly trained, Majikthise" HHGG
Hernan
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I interested in "Back Leading" A form of Audience participation that is not directed(by the performer) from the 'stage' but involves a one on one 'huddle' with the willing volunteer(s). I could whisper to a volunteer to run across the stage and make a commotion at a set cue.
I am shooting in the dark here but I believe the definition of back leading is instructions given to a volunteer that is not known to the audience.

My first idea was to give them flags and noise makers and back lead them to draw a crowd. For me and the volunteers, the "success" (which is what you are to set as a goal for your volunteers) would be the attainment of a decent sized tip.
BroDavid
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It is a matter of balance, pace, and circumstances.

Cellini manages his pace well, and keep things in balance, he controls the circmstances.

You need some audience participation, but you still need to keep things paced, etc.

And the uncertainity of too much audience involvement, can stretch things, out or bring them to too early a climax.

It is all about your goals in teh performance. You can have a goal of making friends, or one of making money. But a balance of the two that fits your personality, and the specific circumstances is the wisest.

Remember, that Cellini said he shys away from using audience members. He didnt say that never uses them at all. He does get very one-on-one with a variety of his audience members throught his performance, so he has that needed audience connection, but he doesnt put any/many of them Front Stage, as that is his position.

Another reason to be a little cautious about making spectators too much a part of the show, is that you are the one who will pass the hat, and if the audience thinks that somebody else was the star, why would they fill your hat?

Like everything else in magic performance, do what works best for you. Get out and do it, and if doesnt work, do something else, and if it does, do more of it! Find your own balance.

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Al Kazam the Magic Man
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There's some very good advice here that I really like myself. I do quite a bit of street magic here in Taiwan, which has to be done in Chinese. Being that I'm also dressed as a clown helps to draw a crowd. Here folks are not used to street performing or busking as it's basically illegal. I get to do it on invitation from a government department who allows me to ask for tips from the specs.

As for using specs to help, I have to agree with Pokie that women and kids are the best. I very rarely ask men to help on the street, it just doesn't seem to work for me. When I first started out, I sometimes asked the wrong kids to help and they were shy or embarassed. (Here in Taiwan where we live there are no other foreigners who perform like us) Sometimes it's because of the language, and sometimes the kids here are a bit afraid of us with our big noses and sometimes not too good Chinese. I"ve sinced learned to read the kids as I start out to make sure I ask the kids who will assist enthusiastically or at least enter into the fun without worrying too much about the crowd. I've even sent back kids who were obviously uncomfortable. It's a learning experience for me.
JoJo
Al Kazam --> Magic guy in Perth Australia
bluemagic
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