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Carrie Sue
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Auburn, MI
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OK, here's the full question:

You're invited to a birthday party, and it turns out to be outside in a small gazebo. The children gather in the center, with the adults at the perimeters. As the show progresses, you notice several newcomer adults poised behind you, potentially able to see the methods to upcoming tricks.

Do you jettison the planned pieces and perform something unplanned, or do you do your best to minimize the potential damage by going ahead after admonishing the "backstage visitors" that this is for the children and not to shatter the mystery for them?

I'm interested to read your responses.

Carrie
www.proximityillusions.com

ASLAN IS ON THE MOVE!
MagicSanta
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It used to give me pause and now I just turn to them and say "you may want to move around front or you are going to learn a whole lot about how magic is done" and carry on. You see realistically they are not going to see as much as we are afraid they will. People will complain they are 'surrounded' but they can't see through your back, they can't see through your arms, and by pulling in closer to the chest you block most everyone you want to block.
Carrie Sue
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That was my strategy, and one of the adults confirmed that she did not catch me out.

More people respond, please.

Carrie
www.proximityillusions.com

ASLAN IS ON THE MOVE!
NJJ
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Carrie - the best solution to this problem is prevention.

I send out a confirmation for my shows with some basic requirements, one of which is that I perform against a wall or background of some sort. If a parent stands behind me during the show, I stop the show and ask them to move straight away. (nicely...and usually as a joke).

If you are constantly thinking about an errant audience member behind you whilst you perform, the quality of your show will suffer.
Carrie Sue
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In this case, it was a last-minute call, so I didn't have time for any confirmation letter.

Good suggestion, though. I did offer an offhand comment about, "No backstage passes, please," but only a few people moved toward my front.

Carrie
www.proximityillusions.com

ASLAN IS ON THE MOVE!
NJJ
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That said...I STILL have things go horribly wrong!

After setting up for this Harry Potter Launch show perfectly so no audience member could see behind me, I got 15 minutes into the show before realising, to my dismay, that there was a camera man filming me from behind and the whole show was projected on to the big screen!

[img]http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1312/870425436_56355beb0c.jpg?v=0[/img]
MagicSanta
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I had a mother I didn't spot film me from behind doing the zombie ball....I wasn't happy. But to have a camera guy behind you....that needed to be addressed.
Carrie Sue
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In this case, it was a last-minute call, so I didn't have time for any confirmation letter.

Good suggestion, though. I did offer an offhand comment about, "No backstage passes, please," but only a few people moved toward my front.

Carrie
www.proximityillusions.com

ASLAN IS ON THE MOVE!
TrickyRicky
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Hi Carrie.
Adults standing behind me doesn't bother me at all.
MagicSanta is correct about your body blocking most of their view.
Just today I did one where I was surrounded. I did the best I could to prevent them from seeing any of my secrets.
Just remember that you are there to entertain the children, so carry on regardless of who is behind you.
The odd times if they are talking too loud I would tell them to move to the front behind the children. I explained that the children will be distracted by them standing there.
Tricky Ricky.
rossmacrae
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1 - ignore them, chances are 999-to-1 that nobody back there cares at all how tricks are done.

2 - If you can project your will onto a crowd of children to keep them in reasonable order, you shouldn't have any difficulty telling the adult audience what you want - "All you great parents back there, let me ask you to move around toward the front where you can see me and I can see you and we'll all keep the magic secrets secret, OK?"
NJJ
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Ross - you've mention that opinion before and, as with last time you said it, I have to express my strong distaste at the idea that, just because someone is not the intended audience that somehow it is OK to reveal magical methods to them. The current rash of internet exposures and secret seeking is caused by people not respecting the idea that magic, at it's core, is built around the concept of secrets.

You second point is far more sensible. As the protagonist and central figure in the show at that time, it is more than acceptable for you to choose where your audience sits or stands.

Most of the time, I find the errant grown up is not the client but a guest who is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
rossmacrae
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I maintain that of the 25 people behind you, 24 are talking to each other about something completely unrelated to your magic, and the other one is trying to hit on one of the other guests.

Whatever they can see past your backside is of only moderate interest, and if they can even tell what they're looking at (what IS that little wire dingus on the bottom of his table - I dunno!) they'll forget it the moment one of the kids gets in a tussle with their little darling.

The whole setup is like watching a television show with someone standing right in front of the screen - pretty soon the viewer gives up if they even cared in the first place.

As posted, of course, it was a situation that arose by surprise - a valuable lesson in choosing effects that eliminate this factor. (Which would also remove the VERY annoying temptation for one or more kids to creep around and see the act from behind you - I hate that)!
kimmo
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I find adults standing behind me irritating and a distraction for the rest of the audience, even though most of my stuff can be done surrounded.

I just say, 'It's fine to stand there but I ought to warn you, you WILL get wet!'
They usually take my friendly warning and move round to the front.

Of course, there are actually no effects involving water in my show.
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magicgeorge
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Quote:
On 2007-08-13 04:53, rossmacrae wrote:
I maintain that of the 25 people behind you, 24 are talking to each other about something completely unrelated to your magic, and the other one is trying to hit on one of the other guests.


But is that the kind of backdrop you want; 25 adults gossiping?

I agree with, Kimmo, I find audience members behind me exceedingly irritating and I'll move them straight away. In my opinion, the distraction of stopping the show and moving them is the lesser of 2 evils compared to the permanent distraction caused by their presence.

At one point, I was considering dropping any tricks that couldn't be done surrounded but then decided that the angles I need for performing certain tricks are pretty much the same angles that I need for a good connection with the audience.

I love the "get wet" line.

I usually say:
"I'm sorry, if you stand there you won't be able to see much.... or you might see too much"

Someimes I joke I'll be thrown out of the magic circle and I'll have to kill that goat all over again.

George
NJJ
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Quote:
On 2007-08-13 04:53, rossmacrae wrote:
I maintain that of the 25 people behind you, 24 are talking to each other about something completely unrelated to your magic, and the other one is trying to hit on one of the other guests.

Whatever they can see past your backside is of only moderate interest, and if they can even tell what they're looking at (what IS that little wire dingus on the bottom of his table - I dunno!) they'll forget it the moment one of the kids gets in a tussle with their little darling.

The whole setup is like watching a television show with someone standing right in front of the screen - pretty soon the viewer gives up if they even cared in the first place.

As posted, of course, it was a situation that arose by surprise - a valuable lesson in choosing effects that eliminate this factor (which would also remove the VERY annoying temptation for one or more kids to creep around and see the act from behind you - I hate that!)


So what about the one adult who IS watching and DOES see what you are doing?

As Kimmo mentions, it is hugely distracting for kids to have parents and other people walking behind.

It also sets the precedent that kids can walk around the back if they want. After all, mum and dad are doing it.

And if all of that isn't enough of an incentive to control your performance space, you must also take into consideration that it looks SLOPPY! Imagine going to see a play and having the stage hands wandering around at the back of the stage or some random people chatting or staring back at the audience.
Regan
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I agree....very distracting.....for the audience and for the performer.

Carrie Sue. Get your self a curtain and that will help.

Regan
Mister Mystery
chris mcbrien
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JUST TELL THEM TO MOVE!
I hope that's blunt enough for you.
MY SHOW, MY RULES. That's how it goes. My audience knows this up front and it's how I maintain control. And...it's gets me booked over and over.
I agree with George on this, and Kimmo. Especially, stopping the show for a moment to get them to move is much less a distraction than their presence behind you making you uncomfortable through a whole show.
And don't HINT with your audience, they won't get it. Be direct.
MoonRazor
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I usually tell the parents to stand behind me to get the best pictures of the kids. But then I don't have many effects that cannot be done surrounded. I'm sure most of us work under conditions similar to N.J.'s.

I have turned and made a big "Ssshhh" gesture when something may be exposed, and they laughed and gave a thumbs up and the kids don't see the difference.

My advice is unless you are lucky enough to exclusively work theatres, invest your hours of practice and show's into angle proof routines. Good Luck
Mumblemore
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Kimmo's line is outstanding. Along those lines, how about telling them they are in the "soak zone" or may be subject to your rabbit's nature call, etc. I guess if they still won't move, then you probably have to trust rossmacrae's advice that most of them won't be watching. But I'd try a variation on Kimmo's lines first, and whether they can see the secrets or not, if they make you nervous, I'd think you should try to move them. You can even say, "how about all the kids move closer together so there's more room for some of your parents?" after you say something about them being soaked or shaving creamed.
Al Angello
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This happens all the time. All of my tricks are foolproof, and play well in the round, so when the adults sneak around behind me I laugh at them, and challenge them to catch me. I am a control freak, and the magician should always be a couple steps ahead of his audience.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
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