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kimmo
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Sheffield
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I was going to post this on James Fortune's thread but decided to start a new one as it's nothing to do with his original topic.

We have been talking on that thread about set up / strike times for a show. As I've said before, it has always been my aim to be able to be ready within 5 minutes of arriving at a venue - even when I was working with a very big show.

Already this month I have arrived at 2 schools where children were having assembly in the hall prior to my show and I was told I could not get in until just before showtime. I was also required to set up in front of the audience. luckily this is not a problem for me but I wondered what others with longer set up times do when confronted with a similar situation. Do you cut the length of the show? Insist on getting in earlier or start late and over-run? Or do you write it into your contract that you need the 30 mins set up time and try to make sure the problem never arises?

Also - how do you feel about setting up in front of the audience - do you think it kills some of the magic and surprise? Personally I LOVE it when I get to do this. I find it an ideal opportunity to make friends with the crowd and get them ready to enjoy a show.

Just wondering how others approached this.
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Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
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I am the exception to all the rules. I need about 30 seconds to set up, but I always play it very low key so when I do start they don't know what to expect from me. Sometimes after I set up there is dead time on stage in front of a partially assembled audience, which is when I do some silent juggling routines that I can do indefinitely.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
Chad C.
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I take a while to set up for school shows, and I always discuss that fact prior to the date of the performance so that everything is ready to go and I am usually alone while setting up. Occassionally it happens that I must set up in front of people, but not very often. When it does though, I load most of my animals in the car ahead of time - I can also load up stuff behind my backdrop. But really, the only thing I have to "get ready" are the animals. I hate having to set up my sound in front of a group though - I usually set it up first, so in case students come in there are no sound checks, etc. Just me sitting out some really neat looking things on my table and around it.

But I most definitely prefer to be alone during my set up. Of course, for b-day parties I almost always set up in front of someone, but for libraries and schools - usually by myself.

Well, that was a long-winded response.
Chad
Tony James
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Cheshire UK
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I come from the old school of children's entertainers and cut my commercial teeth on December shows, especially weekend works, office and social club children's Christmas parties.

Spots were thirty minutes. You began at 12 noon and by 1 p.m. you had done one show, packed, collected your money, got out, loaded the car, travelled to the next show, got through the security gate, parked, unloaded, got in, set up AND HAD STARTED your second show.

I reckoned on two and a half minutes to set and another to strike and pack. And that included changing into and out of your performing trousers and shoes.

And that went on, doing shows on the hour at different venues through to 6 p.m.

What's more, in Lancashire you could do earlies and we did. Quarter past eight in the morning!!!! You had to do two, one at the Labour Club and another across town at the Conservative Club and they wanted you finished by 9.30 a.m. Why? Because the wives ran the parties with their husbands to help fetch and carry for them and then the wives took their husbands Christmas shopping. But only till 12 noon when husbands went to the pub, met their mates and went on to the football match in the afternoon.

By way of interest, after the 9.30 a.m. finish it was usual for me to go to a big store such as Kendal Milne in Manchester and do two Punch Shows before going on to the first of the afternoon shows.

In the evening? The usual working men's clubs with a comedy magic act.

Half an hour to set? These days I take the luxury of five minutes. Children present and watching? I've set thousands of shows up like that. And with hundreds of children running around. Easy. Use props that need no or very minimal resetting. And learn to use your body and table for cover.

And don't forget to change your trousers and shoes, too.

Need to look smart you know and cool, calm and collected. Not hot and bothered and in a muck-sweat because you'd been stuck in traffic for what seemed forever.

As I always say, there's an awful lot more to performing magic than tricks.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
magicmarkdaniel
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Bolton, England UK
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When I book a show, I always let the client know that it takes 30-40mins to set up. It really only usually takes 15-20 but I do this for 2 reasons...

1. If I arrive early for whatever reason (especially in the winter), I know I can get into the building instead of sitting out in the cold.

2. I appreciate the extra time in case something goes wrong with an effect in setting up.

Mark
Mark Daniel
ku7uk3
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For my one-hour show, I can be set up in under 2-minutes and while I prefer to do this without being watched, often I just move the backdrop to the front of the stage while I set up behind it, and then move the backdrop to the side.

The two hour show however is a different matter. I have a disco system and that requires at least 20 minutes to get in from my car and set-up.
I did a show at weekend when the children watched me. I decided to put a song on my mini-CD player and tell everyone to go get a drink and come back in 5 minutes (after the song). That gave me 5 minutes to do as much as I could.
Once I had the main system active, I went straight into some party games, and while doing this, set up the magic show and moved into that.
The show went great, but it wasn't what I was use to.

Telling you audience to 'go get a drink', isn't always an option, and so my backdrops have games on them. These are visual games and the children can play while setting up. They only buys me 4 minutes but that's usually enough to get the main box prepared and stuff in place, even if it isn't connected together just yet. That I will have to do before I start and make the children wait.

One thing I try never to do, is to start early. When your in these situations, the enfices is to start your show asap, even though you don't officially start for another twenty minutes.
If you start early, then great, but the client still expects you to finish at the scheduled time. So you do extra time for free. If you finish too early, then you have trouble getting paid.
If I feel that the client wants me to start too early, I make them aware of the starting time in a clear and precise manner so that I have fewer problems later.
Another problem is that for the kids, as soon as they see you, your on the clock. You have 7 minutes to grab their attention and keep it before they become distracted. If those 7 minutes are spent setting up, then you have already lost them for the main show and disciple will be extremely hard to obtain since they don't respect you.

Its a tough situation, but we do are best to make the client and children happy.

Stephen Ablett
KC Cameron
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Raleigh, North Carolina
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My small school shows (under 300) can be set up in about 7 minutes if I rush it and know the school layout, but I like taking my time and doing it in 15 minutes. Larger shows take more time due to my sound system. Of course, load in time can be drastically different at various venues.

I like to get to a school show an hour early because I never know what to expect for traffic. Also, if something goes wrong, I have time to fix it. Some schools like to start early, other schools don't start bringing kids in until 10 minutes after the show is suppose to start. The extra time I spend chatting with the PTO/PTA president, principle and staff. I believe that this makes more bookings in this area since we have a lot of very good entertainers. Unfortunately this is not always possible.

For me, I DON'T like setting up in front of the kids, because I have to worry about what they see, and they are always asking questions. This divides my concentration, and if I am in a hurry, stresses me a little and I think the show suffers. I like to set up behind a curtain (if they have one) and do the warm-up with the curtain closed. After the warm-up the curtain opens and off we go.

I used to take longer for a show set-up, but I found as I became more organized and busier, The set-up time shrank and I dropped things that took too long to prepare. When I start a new character, my set up time always grows to 30 minutes until I am really comfortable with it.

If I have the time to set up a lot of props, even if I don't use them, I will, because it adds color and excitement to the stage. Kids often ask why I didn’t use a prop, and I tell them I can use it in another show, letting the kids & staff know if they hire me again, they don’t need to see the same show.
MagicSanta
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Northern Nevada
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I ask for half an hour, mostly so the kids get use to seeing me. All I really need to do is open the table and my case and I'm ready to go. It then takes about ten to 15 minutes to make sure the case is loaded right.
Tony James
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Cheshire UK
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Quote:
On 2007-12-04 12:18, CaptainKid wrote:

If I have the time to set up a lot of props, even if I don't use them, I will, because it adds color and excitement to the stage. Kids often ask why I didn’t use a prop, and I tell them I can use it in another show, letting the kids & staff know if they hire me again, they don’t need to see the same show.


This is quite outrageous. To lay out props which are calculated to mislead the booker and the audience is despicable. Their presence creates interest and anticipation. One has to be exceedingly careful not to inadvertently encourage misplaced expectancy of this sort accidentally, when considering designs for backgrounds and dressings. To do so deliberately shows a complete disregard for established rules of theatrical presentation and sheer common sense and honesty or a level of ignorance and dishonesty which is breathtaking.

How dare you treat your audience and those WHO BOOK AND PAY YOU in this cavalier manner. And to encourage others to do so too.It's a deliberate con and you should be ashamed of yourself.

It's no wonder "Kids often ask why I didn't use a prop" - you've robbed them of their trust and they will remember that long after they've forgotten you.

It is so easy to raise interest and so easy too to dash that interest. And mostly you'll never know, especially with the adults WHO BOOK AND PAY YOU. Children will voice their disappointment and continue to voice it after you've gone.

Adults - the ones WHO BOOK AND PAY YOU remember - tend to keep quiet, not wishing to look foolish in front of others because they too thought and wondered what was going to happen with those props you so calculatingly displayed and deliberately omitted.

It's very good practise to have a flexible presentation and to have additional and alternative props available if you judge as the show progresses that this particular audience will better enjoy different material. Those alternatives are kept out of sight along with those items they would replace so that the audience sees only those props you actually use.

But tempting an audience with props you have no intention of using is a device I can only associate with the worst example of rankest amateurism I can possibly imagine.

It is beneath contempt.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
KC Cameron
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Raleigh, North Carolina
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Tony,

You have some good thoughts here in the forum, but you are also an ass.

Are you mad that I think that your comment that a magician isn’t a professional if he doesn’t wrap his props in little bags, is a bit off base???

There is no contempt for my audience in me, and you can ask anyone who knows me. I am sure you know this and are just trying to raise ANOTHER ruckus. The only contempt I see comes from those like you who seem to think running down another makes them look good. I am sure it impresses some of the newbies. Wasn't it you that referred to kids in the carney derogatory term "punters" just the other day? that suprised me, even coming from you.

My agent loves me because I always under-promise and over-deliver. He has seen my shows and books more. I always offer a 100% money back guarantee (which in over 15 years has never been asked for). Children NEVER voice their disappointment during or after my shows, and I am booked and re-booked showing the adults appreciated it too. In fact, it seems the only one who thinks I am a rank armature is an ass that has never experienced a show of mine, and likes to jump to negative conclusions with out ever inquiring to see if he miss-understood. The last show I did the PTO president called the agent and the principle to tell them how happy they were - and that is usual.

The props are not there to build anticipation or tempt them, but to add color. they don't get time to dwell on the props anyway. The kids (and adults) don't know what they are, and to them they are just added color and size. I do sometimes use them if the show permits, but I am not going to slow down a show to drag a prop out from hiding as you suggest.

Kids are always happy with my show, and I often get "Boy, he is really good" which tells me the last magician was not so good.

Tony, you have some good informative posts here, and a few that make me wonder. You are so quick to get personal and jump to conclusions. Why are you so defensive? Your signature says you are a child at heart. Emotionally, right now you are acting like one too. Running down another magician on something you know is not true . . . . If you were to act like an adult, and if you really thought your assessment was true, you would have inquired to insure you weren’t miss-understanding something before getting personal (if getting personal at all). A professional would have offered constructive criticism without being so nasty. The fact you didn’t says a lot. Not exactly professional. Funny, but not professional. The professional thing to do is apologize – why don’t you surprise me?
Chad C.
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Others opinions don't really matter - only those who book you. If you put out extra props to "set the stage" who cares. If the person hiring you is happy and books you again in the future than that is all that matters.
KC Cameron
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Chad, I know. There a few less than honest people who find it great fun to put down and bully others to make themselves look more important. I am sure we all do it in some small way, but some have a corner on the market.

I can understand Tony (to a slight degree) if I had something recognizable up, like say a zig-zag or a guillotine, but I don't. Neither do I have any of Wolf's fine products. The things I am talking about is a chair suspension, a picture frame (Where my head appears to fall off), my linking hoola hoops, and now, bigger wands. Things that may invite curiosity, but that is all.
Tony James
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Cheshire UK
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I have no problem with the posts above from the revolving pirate. It is his business he's running and how professionally or otherwise he conducts himself is his affair.

My concern is for those reading what was written and then believing it is acceptable to have props sprinkled around to dress and colour the performing area.

It is unprofessional and that alone should be sufficient. Worse, it is dishonest because they are deliberately on view with no intention of using them. From a common sense viewpoint it is counterproductive.

Not only are they a visual distraction but it is human nature to be curious and children are exceedingly curious. Many of them will be waiting to see what happens with those pieces of colourful dressing - not realising why they are not being used. After all, these are not obvious scenery pieces but obvious props. Even children will recognise the difference. They are props for use in "a" show but not this one.

Hence the admission "Kids often ask why I didn't use a prop"

It is also unprofessional to deliberately mislead the booker with the excuse - and I quote complete with typographical errors:

"I tell them I can use it in another show, letting the kids & staff know if they hire me again, they don’t need to see the same show"

There's another and more directly positive way to achieve that. Print it on your publicity card/brochure or whatever - and tell them as you hand it over.

As for the comment taken from a previous post elsewhere, I have obviously rattled the pirouetting pirate for him to raise it out of context. Rest assured it is perfectly true that professionals bag props in transit,

That's how professional acts of every type and sort protect their props when travelling. Small props such as we use are bagged, or loose cloth wrapped.

Close-up workers often pack their very small props in an executive style case with a foam insert and cut out spaces for individual pieces.

Illusion shows use bags for their smaller props. Big props are often covered with fitted, drop-over cloth covers (used between performances backstage to keep dust off the prop) and then into transit cases - usually referred to today as flight cases, so called as they were originally lighter in weight for aircraft transportation. And inside transit cases you should find thick block felt, shaped to fit and strategically and permanently fixed to the case structure.

All these packing methods achieve the same desired effect, big or small, of the prop remaining fixed in place and protected from rubbing contact with another prop or structure.

Keeps everything in brand new order. When a mark or paint loss occurs, the paint is touched in immediately. That way "a stitch in time saves nine" as the old saying tells us.

I'm afraid you have to be very careful here, picking your way through all the information and opinion disseminated.

As you will observe, some is excellent and some less so.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
todd75
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Birthday party= 2 minutes

School programs= 4 minutes

I was once won of those "45 minutes to setup" and "30 minutes to pack" performers but the fact is that clients don't want you there that long. All they really want is a great show and you to be gone.

I have had a few times where traffic has been reelly bad and I have pulled into the parking lot 10 minutes before my program is to start. I've always called the client and told them that I was indeed almost there but to go ahead and have the kids start lining up. I have NEVER been late and never had to start late because it took me too long to setup. Instead, because it takes me so little time, I've actually saved myself.

Like Al, I play my entire program- yes, even my school shows out of a briefcase and a small gig bag. This is my entire program and I am often times re-booked again. People love the fact that I don't need much space, don't ask for tables, chairs, microphones, sound systems, bottled water, green m & m's, etc.
kimmo
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Funnily enough - I have a recurring nightmare that I am at a very important gig and the audience is waiting impatiently but try as I might, I just can't get the show set up!! For some reason comedienne Dawn French is always sitting in the front row glaring at me as well. I could go on but I've probably already given you too much of an insight into my tortured psyche!!

Anyone have similar work-related anxiety dreams?
VISIT MY ONLINE STORE!: www.kimmomagicshop.com
NEW LECTURE NOTES - SHOW US YOUR TRIX NOW AVAILABLE AS AN INSTANT DIGITAL DOWNLOAD!

Kimmo DVD available Now!
Watch the promo here!
Order your copy NOW! CLICK HERE!

ENTERTAINER,MAGICIAN AND VENTRILOQUIST'S BLOG - DON'T READ THIS...
Al Angello
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Eternal Order
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John my friend
I must have that dream about once a week usually I need a shave, and I'm wearing the wrong clothes. I think it is a sign of a man that always worries about the little things.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
Fauna Gob
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Tony, mate, your way out of line, being very derogatory to someone who doesn't deserve it.

I set my show out and sometimes don't use the odd prop, do to time restrictions, or maybe I don't think it will work for the audience, how DARE you then comment that my way of working is 'conning' my audience, that's just idiotic and obtuse.

Fauna
I'm the hiphopapotamus, my rhymes are bottomless, sounds a little preposterous, spewing from my esophagus.
But, my ryhmes are so potent that during this small segment, I've made all the women in the last three threads pregnant.
chris mcbrien
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Well, I'm going to steer clear of the whole argument-thing going on here. I will say I've learned a lot from Tony, and sometimes I sincerely feel that the whol argument tends to happen between people that are simply very different in their conceptual thinking. Pretty much artists arguing...which can be very productive if done without bashing.

Ever since my first job in high-school I've always been taught:
Customer Satisfaction First.

We have to make sure people are happy with us. We depend on them for our livlihood (for many of us to greater or lesser degrees, whatever). We have to find out what people want...and give it to them.
This is not an overnight thing, but takes a lot of time...and from what I see many here are simply, and without bias, at different levels in their art, in their passion, in their vision, and in different locale.
Does this put one over another?
I feel that those who have been doing this the longest should be respected to and not called "ass", or "obtuse", "idiotic"
Tony James has many more years and experience over most, if not all, here. I consider him a mentor of sorts and even when I disagree with Tony, I would never be so inconsiderate as to verbally abuse him...even if he said something to me as a critique. In art school I had many prof's who would tear down my work, yet I NEVER said a thing back to them...why? Because I was taught respect for my elders in my craft. I take anything I don't like, and actually ask them to go further in explaining their reasoning so I can learn from them their mode of thought..their experience and their methodology..even if I don't agree with it, it provides more information to draw on later in life so I can see my work from ALL ANGLES POSSIBLE so my work is the best it can be...sometimes meaning I have to put my own ego aside and look at it from what I'd imagine that mentor to see so I can use..hence the word "teacher"...their information from other times and places to help me..in the future.
Captain and Fauna's language toward a elder in our craft is really disgraceful. And no bias, if the roles were reversed I'd be saying the same thing.
I thank Christ for placing me in a home amid parents, grandparents and in a community of teachers in which I was taught to shut up and listen to those who have more experience, take as much and remember as much as I can so I can not only use it for me, but pass it along to the next generation.
I personally don't like coming to the "little darlings" section much anymore because I feel that there is little respect given to anyone here...and this goes for both sides of any argument. If this happened in art school you guys would be kicked out of class for good, as I've seen many disgraceful students kicked out of our art department...in fact by my third year our class had shrunk to half the size due to those who were too weak to shut up, put up and learn as much as they can...because years from then I am more than grateful that my teachers put their butts on the line, said what they really REALLY thought of us even though we paid their salary, risked being harassed and verbally abused back by us all for the sake of waking us up to learning things that I use to this very day.
Thank God for the teacher who puts aside fear of acceptance for the sake of helping their students.
"magicians helping magicians" in this section has turned into no just a joke, but an outright LIE. What a waste....
I"m going back to rehearsing now, watching old films, getting inspired by the greats and honing my craft in my rehearsal room.....I can't wait, even if I have to mess up and learn something new....and GROW FROM IT, then take it to my audiences this weekend and GROW EVEN MORE. And I'll be making every effort to listen to them with an open heart the whole time....and give them what they want!
Best to All,
Chris
PS. A quick observation. Many here are supposed to be adept at dealing with children, which takes PATIENCE. I would urge many who argue disrespectfully to have the same patience not just with others, but with their own ego, that ego's anger and pride, and really THINK before you post words that can't be taken back. No, I'm not perfect in this, but I'm making the effort to do it the best I can. I urge you to try the same...life is much more fruitful, wonderful and magical that way!!!
MagicSanta
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I'm going to agree with Tony and I'll explain my reasoning.

First off the issue of having props on a table in view that are not used is at question. The Captain puts them up for decorative purposes with, it seems, no intention of using them in his show. Mr. Fauna has props on his table which, if I understand him, he may, due to the fact shows can change in mid stream to meet time limitations or how children are reacting, may not be used. There is a very distinct difference between the two. The Captain is, again my opinion, doing what is done in some warehouse stores to make people think they have inventory, stacking empty boxes. They have no value and are a misrepresentation of what is reality. There is no reason for the intentional posing of props in a magic show just to exhibit it or to fill space. Mr. Fauna seems, and I may be wrong, to use said prop or the likelyhood exist. Not the same as Captain.

If I am doing a magic show I, not the props, am the focus of the children and adults. I don't clutter a table with items just because they exist, I like to work out of my case so kids are not tempted to distraction. I also found that if an item is visible and for some reason I don't get it into the show, ala Mr. Fauna, kids will ask why. Why do they do this to me and appearantly not the Captain? I can only guess because they enjoy what I do and want one extra trick if they can get it! I can't tell you why they don't ask the Captain because if they did I doubt he'd pose them as he says he does.

I want to close by saying that I am offended by the calling of names toward Tony James. While Tony does have that toney Brit way of communicating he also has some information to put out that many would do well to listen and learn from. In this case he is correct in his statement and you, Captain, are incorrect and should thank Tony for pointing out to you the err of your ways. Mr. Fauna, on the other hand, is correct due to the fact that a kids show isn't strict and inflexible but as a performer once must think on their feet and make changes that make the best of the performance at hand.

Captain, I believe if not done so already an apology to Mr. James for name calling is in order. Mr. James, let me thank you for your contribution to the unwashed masses of your experience and knowledge that you offer to all, regardless if they deserve it or not.
ku7uk3
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I think putting props out for display is wrong, but not just for any of the reasons above.

Firstly, a client wants you to set up fast, and pack away fast. Any unnecessary props on display require time to take out of the box, and or protective covering, and then putting back in. Increasing setting up and packing away time.

Secondly, the weight of your box must be huge. I know that as a magician, I always carry about three shows worth of props, but the second show contains lighter, more flat-pack tricks. Bigger, flashier props like were talking about here, if they aren't in the main show, they they are just acting like dead weight, and your back can only take so much of them being dragged about.

Which brings me to my third. We all know that damage to props comes from the transportation between gigs. Why are you damaging props just to display, when they could be stored at home ready for the Christmas show, or next year show in pristine condition?

Also, I want the children's attention to be on me. I never take something out of my box until I'm ready to do something with it. If there is even the smallest of distractions on the stage, then I lose that child's attention and they miss the trick.
In order to make me or my child helper the centre of attention, I don't leave any distractions on stage where the kid can be thinking 'what do you think that's for?'

If you want to decorate the stage, then get a back-drop or display item which packs small but displays big. Don't risk damaging a magic prop that costs a fortune.

Captain Jack - Love the pirate theme show. I too like to get there early. I have a book in the car, which I read if I arrive too early. I won't enter the building until 15 minutes before hand as that will cause other problems I want to avoid.

Stephen
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