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blsorg
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Regular user
Charleston WV
149 Posts

Profile of blsorg
Well, I've been performing now for many years. 33 to be exact.
I am to the point in my life where I'm very pleased with my performance and the reaction I get from my audiences. But here is my problem...

Currently I have to make two trips in to a performance location from my car (good and bad weather). I carry a microphone stand, amplifier, folding backdrop, small table and a large suitcase. Also my setup time is appx. half hour.

My biggest desire right now is to be able to arrive with only one or two items and be able to start my performance without hardly any setup. Honestly, I've really come to envy comedians that walk out on stage with little or no props!

Often I'm booked for conventions and dinners at hotels and have to setup in front of
the audience (which I really dislike). It's also uncomfortable to test my sound system in front of the crowd while they're eating (or worse yet have something going on). Testing 1 -2 -3!

Well I took a month off from shows and worked on a very simplified system. Now I will have to spend a lot more time at home (pre-show) getting everything just right and fixing it in my suitcase to not move around during transportation. In other words, I've transfered the amount of time I would spend arranging my props and setting up at the show to an earlier time at my home. Then I place a few items that barely fit in the suitcase to exert pressure on my props to keep them in their place and in proper order.

Last night came the big test...
It was a kids show sponsored by a local town's recreation dept... small crowd (not on a stage). maybe 50-60 including some parents.

I felt so bare! I was out in the open... kids even coming up right into my performing area to hand me the knots off of my cut & restored rope, and being overly helpful when I performed a magician-in-trouble type routine. No backdrop, roped off area, no table with a few props laying around to add to the scenery. And I still had to do a little work (rearrangement) on the props in my case.

Now I'm wondering if this "simplification" is really the way to go. Any thoughts on this from any of you guys that have been around for a while? Thanx!
Bruce
- Time flies like an arrow; Fruit flies like a banana! -

http://www.WVmagic.net
Alan Munro
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Inner circle
Kentwood, Michigan, USA
5753 Posts

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Earl Ray Wilcox gave me some advise when he was alive and working for an agency. He said that you should already be setup before the guests arrive. If that cuts into your ability to do other gigs that day, charge more for the gig that you're doing.

The only other way around it is to have the client provide all of the staging and sound, run by someone who knows what he's doing. This doesn't happen very often at my gigs, except for the bigger events.

I have a simple setup for my shows - sets in 5 minutes. But, if that's all I have to do, there are other professionals involved in the process. My props are in their own compartments, inside of the prop case. Many of them require little to no reset.
Father Photius
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Grammar Host
El Paso, TX (Formerly Amarillo)
17198 Posts

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In my years doing touring school shows and restaurant work, one of the things I learned the hard way the first year on the road was the pre-prep and packing. Keeping track of props, packing and unpacking, set up was such a hassle and we lost stuff, broke things, etc. The frustration of it all was far more than anything else that caused problems with touring. It was a more experienced magician who did the same sort of shows who told me about pre-prep and packing. He told me I needed to arrange items so that once we did them, an assistant could start packing it up, and when we were done we would be totally packed and everything would be ready to take out and set up in the order we needed it for the next show. In otherwords, our pack up was also our reset. It took some experimenting, and modification of some things to get a working system, but was well worth the time and effort. We could roll in, set up in less than 10 min, and be ready to exit 2 min after the final bow. We stopped loosing things, breakage was down to a minimum, and the frustration went away.
Your biggest problem on your first attempt was more one of crowd control than it was of your packing system. All systems need a few runs to get the system down to a way that works for you. And if you don't work with an assistant, it is a bit harder to pack as you go, but it can be done, depending on the types of cases you have.
Also you might try getting one of those small, light weight dolly's or hand trucks that office supply places sell. You can bungee strap your various equipment and cases to it, when you remove it from the car, requiring only one trip each way.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
mcharisse
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Inner circle
York. PA
1219 Posts

Profile of mcharisse
Bruce,
You didn't say if you reduced the totalnumber of props though you imply it ("I felt so bare")
If you did, there may be a relationship to the breakdown in crowd control. I find that the two tables I use effectively demark a performance area between them and when I use less, crowd control becomes a bit more challenging.
Marc
blsorg
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Regular user
Charleston WV
149 Posts

Profile of blsorg
Alan, thanks for that info.

Photius, Actually I have a "dump bag" that sits behind my case so that I can quickly pack and leave. As I finish each routine it's placed in my dump bag.
The crowd control wasn't a big problem, just a slight nuisance. Normally I have a "soft divider" between my performance area and the crowd. I didn't utilize this Friday evening but I'll definitely start using that again with my kids shows.

Marc- I felt bare because I didn't have the usual number of props and tables, chairs, backdrop, etc. Yes I did use less props and also several new routines with some smaller props. I had just attempted to change a system that I had been using for many years.

But I honestly believe that I'm going back to my regular way of doing it.
I know that there's a divide among magicians about having more for the audience to look at... and I believe there probably is some merit to that. Although I'd still be thrilled to just walk in... do my gig working out of my pockets.

I don't think that will happen during a floor/stage show, but it's something to shoot for!

Bruce
- Time flies like an arrow; Fruit flies like a banana! -

http://www.WVmagic.net
Rodney Palmer
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Inner circle
1317 Posts

Profile of Rodney Palmer
24-Years and I still cannot Pack SMALL. I have tried to downsize my show into a Packs Small/Plays Big but I just cannot seem to be able to cut down. It still takes me 45-minutes to set-up for small stage shows and a half hour for birthday partys. I make 3-4 trips from the van and back. But I can Gurantee that I am fully prepared for every show and I have not been caught off guard ever. I am always fully prepared with all of my own equiptment. Be prepared and you never have to worry.

Rodney
"Creating Memories That Last A Lifetime"



In order to keep "MAGIC ALIVE" Please become a Mentor to a Young Person.
Michael Taggert
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Special user
Fredericksburg Virginia
653 Posts

Profile of Michael Taggert
I've been at this for a little over 27 years now(doesn't seem like it) but I have learned a few things about set up and teardown, the use of backdrops etc.

First of all it is important to look at the show artistically. If you are charging a premium fee (I am and getting it) your show has to look the part. You will need to keep the backdrop tables and sound system.

Second I could not do a show that I have not preset well in advance. I frequently get to the venue and find that I'm doing so much PR and meet and greet that I just don't have time to do a lot of pre setting so most of that work is done in advance. If I do multiple shows in a day I pre set multiples whenever I can. The rest is re set as I pack of substituted for a different already preset routine.

Third I make a parade from the truck to the venue of the kids that are there. I also put into my tech rider that I need a certain number of people to help load and unload. This gets the equipment into the venue. I recently decided to switch to a spider backdrop and have now rigged my levitation to be a remote control operated illusion so I can set everything up myself. My set up times are quick.

My stage show set up is 30 minutes.
My birthday show set up is 5 minutes.
Believe you then that I do strange things
Bob Sanders
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Grammar Supervisor
Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
20514 Posts

Profile of Bob Sanders
The rest of the world cannot believe that magicians could have these problems!

Reality is that we certainly do.

Good packing is a good investment. (I have "cheat sheets" that print off my computer and tell me what I need to take and what to do with it when I get there.)

Be there before the guests. (Send someone else, if necessary.)

Have duplicate equipment. This way cleaning up after the last show is not necessary for this show. (I have a red, yellow and black show. It simply keeps the stuff for that show together. There are duplicates!)

Get help! If you need it, you need it. (How many times have you wished someone else would talk to this fan while I go to the restroom? I'll come back. I promise! Get a blocker to protect the quarterback.)

Be fair to yourself. What will fit in the vehicle? Either add more vehicle space or edit the show to fit.

Then panic like the rest of us. You're normal!

Keep on Keeping on.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz

AmazedWiz@Yahoo.com
PennyMagic4U
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New user
78 Posts

Profile of PennyMagic4U
One trick (pardon the pun)I have learned is to write it all down. I carry cards in the 3 cases I carry. That way I know where everything is and where it belongs. Has help when I get help in packing up after the show.
PennyMagic4U
PennyMagic4U by Jerry Penny
Bob Sanders
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Grammar Supervisor
Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
20514 Posts

Profile of Bob Sanders
My shows are on the computer with packing list. It helps me make decisions before I load the car.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz

AmazedWiz@Yahoo.com
disneywld
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Special user
Denver, CO
614 Posts

Profile of disneywld
I pack big, but all can be set up in 15 minutes. I pre-tape my headset mike to my neck, and install the battery in the transmitter. Unloading is pretty fast since I contact my customer first and they almost always ask if they can help. I also get free help bringing back my stuff to the car. People are honored to help the magician.
The Magic of Christopher Manos
www.safetymagicshows.com
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