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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Setting up (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Tony James
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Inner circle
Cheshire UK
1398 Posts

Profile of Tony James
Thank you Chris, Santa and Stephen for summing up so succinctly the reply I no longer need to make.

I too have only a couple of items on my table and there are good reasons why they are there. A front piece because it's used very early and forms the interest focal point.

Everything else is hidden behind the table so that it's a surprise when brought out.It tends mostly to be on the smaller side. After all I don't want to be accused of having too many boxes. It's surprising how often the booker sees props in a different, more simplistic manner.

And Fauna, you're not on your own. Just occasionally we all take a decision part way through that this lot won't react as you would wish to some prop already on the table, or that time won't allow for that prop and another hidden behind and the hidden prop will work better. Putting some away always brings a cry of disappointment from children.

That's why the prop on the table should be, as far as it ever can be, cast iron. It always scores with children of that particular age. Just occasionally you know that this time it won't and have to exchange it.

So the rest of the show is hidden along with any spares - we all carry something in case of emergencies - and alternatives.

The need for alternatives - only one, perhaps two - is usually because the client is uncertain about some aspect, usually age. Not so much a birthday party or school problem but one of those where the children will be from say three years through to twelve. And until they arrive, no one knows what the proportions will be and where the main age group will be.

I keep all such material hidden away so the audience is unaware of substitutions.

As Stephen highlights, there's enough to lug about without having extras - think of the time it takes and the risk of damage in transit.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
11047 Posts

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Setting up is a matter of preferance, and not a big enough thing to justify name calling.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
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"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
johnnymystic
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North Adams Ma.
1576 Posts

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Had a show tonight, as usual I bring more than I need, all of which is out of sight and out of mind unless needed and for good reason...

this is why,I knew another magician in my area that would decorate a whole table with props, spray painted cheesy things of all shapes and sizes, half of them the guy couldn't even perform the right way. I would see kids become sad and let down by this when told by the magician they will not see them until maybe next time he's booked.

I learned something valubale that day.

For tonights show I had brought my chair suspension all folded up and leaning against the wall behind me, I never used it and after the show a few kids asked what it was and why I didn't use it, I explained we had so much fun together doing all the other magic we simply ran out of time.

I then stopped packing my show and did some close up stuff with money, it made 'em forget all about the funny red cloth wrapped board and folded up chairs.

:)
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NJJ
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Throughout my 20 years in the biz I've swung from the ".006 seconds to set up" to the "six hours of total privacy to set up" and back again!

These days, I have a show which CAN be set up in 5 minutes (10 minutes if I need my backdrop). However, I always leave 15-20 minutes in case something in the room isn't right. That way, I can take my time, check all my props are clean and in order.

I don't want to discover a broken prop or missing bit of gear in the middle of the show!
Fauna Gob
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27 Posts

Profile of Fauna Gob
I guess I hadn't quite got where you were coming from, I can't see the point of having a prop out just to 'look good' like I said, once in a while I won't perform a trick occasionally for whatever reasons, but this is quite rare.

My apologies for snapping Smile

Fauna
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petekoloz
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USA
479 Posts

Profile of petekoloz
Quote:
On 2007-12-04 21:23, CaptainKid wrote:
...... Wasn't it you that referred to kids in the carney derogatory term "punters" just the other day?....


Carney?
It's Carny or Carnies.
We don't call anyone punters.
We call them marks.
Anyway.
It sounded derogatory,toward carnies.
You got something against carnies?
If I had to live my life over, I'd live over a saloon. ( W. C. Fields)
Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
11047 Posts

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Captain
My definition of punter is "sport" not such a bad name. Those English folk like Tony think they own the d*** language.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
Harry Murphy
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Inner circle
Maryland
5272 Posts

Profile of Harry Murphy
Interesting topic! I tend to read but not post in this section of the Café. Why? Because I don’t consider myself a kid’s performer and rarely do more than 100 kid shows per year. Heck, my best year doing children oriented/focused shows was still under 300 shows! So I am no real expert. However, I do have some opinions based on my experience doing all kinds of shows, a good working knowledge of theater and history of magic. I’ve been doing this stuff for over 50 years and I’m still learning and open to good direction, critique, and advice.

Fortunately for me there are real experts in this forum, people who have been at it successfully for decades. I sit up and listen (read) what they have to say. I’ve printed out or saved to disk posts in several forums (including here). I have a full book of good advice, tips, and tricks of the trade that would have cost me a small fortune if not for the Café. I am also fortunate to have been around long enough to know the gold from the fool’s gold (there is more of the latter than the former!). Lucky for members of the Café there are still a number of experienced experts willing to keep posting sage advice and opinion even when being sorely abused. I consider Tony one of the gems of this section. I actively search his posts and copy them. I find pure gold in much of what he says. Often I don’t agree with his ideas but they challenge me to rethink my position.


There was a period in magic history (1800’s and early 1900’s) where it was popular for magicians to have all their props on tables and exposed to the audience’s view. It became readily apparent that all the props distracted the audience from the process so the better magicians streamlined their stage settings having only the prop in use exposed to view. It did mean that assistants often had to be used to bring on and take away props. The lesson is true today. Clutter means distraction. This is especially true with children. It is just good stagecraft/theater to have a central focus again especially with children (it is also based on good child psychology).

One can do what they want (and will) and it may seem to work. However, I suspect that it would work better if some sage direction, advice, and critique were followed. I’ve had whole shows totally torn apart by magician/directors whose experience and talent I respected. My show worked but when modified worked dramatically better.

That said, I hit a house and my show is ready. No set-up and no break down beyond opening my table (set-up) and closing it (break down). I do a couple of warm-ups as I open my table. Every prop is held in its place and is returned to its place when completed. School shows are pretty much the same with the addition of doing a sound check and if I have to provide the sound system, placing the speakers.

I am pretty vain and want the show to be about me, the guy that is doing wonders, making laughter happen, and causing fun! I could give a rats tail if anyone, adult or child, remembered any one trick/routine I performed. I want everyone to remember me!

By the way, I don’t advertise, all of my work is by referral or repeat business. I am booked as solid as I care to be (have time for).

Posted: Jan 30, 2008 8:47am
In terms of the “it works for me” argument I am reminded that an accomplished and very, very experienced performer (and magic inventor) Dr. Gene Anderson underwent recently.

I doubt if anyone here would deny that Anderson’s act is polished and tight. He regularly performs for magicians at magic conventions and is always in top form. His lectures on magic and presentation are well attended and always give important value to the performers attending. Bottom line he is a recognized consummate performer and professional.

Was that enough for him? Nope. He attended a performance workshop recently had his performance critiqued and had a professional director (Bob Fitch) help him fine tune it to make his act even better! He states that it is one of the best exercises he has ever gone through and believes that his performances are dramatically enhanced by taking the direction and critique. He was undeniably good and sought to get better!

My point is just because it works for me doesn’t mean that I couldn’t be better (tighter act, smoother running, better theatrical timing and sequencing, etc.).
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
11047 Posts

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Harry
I absolutely agree with everything you say, but I consider a man who does 100 kid shows a year to be an authority on kids magic.
U DA MAN
Al
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
magic4u02
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Eternal Order
Philadelphia, PA
15111 Posts

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Harry: Absolutely excellent, brilliant and sound advice my friend. People should read and then re-read what you so elegantly expressed above. Thank you forthat. I can back you up on Gene Anderson. He is one of the nicest and most proessional man I have ever come across. He has no ego at all and is willing to work with anyone who is willing to listen.

A short story with a point. I was a young magician up at Hank Lees Cap Cod Conclave years ago. Like most young performers, I thought I knew everything and had it all figured out. lol. I knew who Gene was and admired his stuff but had never met him before.

I end up in he hpsitality room and I am sitting on a couch cause I really did not know anyone but 1 or 2 people. Gene seeing me by myself took it upon himself to come over and talk with me. Not only did he talk with me, but he listened to everything I had to say. Even though I was young and niave, he listened like a true professional, took in what I had to say and taught me so much.

When I asked him about his newspaper tear, he went out of the room came back and for the next 2 hours began to show me step by step how to do everything. He never asked a dime from me accept the promise that I would never stop learning and listening.

I tell the story because that to me is what a true magician should be all abut. One who never stops learning and who gives back to magicians. One who helps others to get better and one who consistently works at getting better himself. he did not have to do any of that for me, but he chose to.

Kyle
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Wanlu
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Manila, Philippines
3058 Posts

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Quote:
On 2007-12-06 10:21, kimmo wrote:
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?


Wow...with the exemption of Dawn French, I had some similar nightmares...SPOOKY!!! Smile
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magic4u02
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Philadelphia, PA
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Interesting. I can not say I ever had a dream like that about magic, but I have often had dreams associated like that with school. Just being at chool and not finding my room, or arriving late for a test or not having homework. It is kind of strange but I can relate for sure. lol

I know for myself that I do not get nervous before a show because of the audience at all. If I do get nervous, I get nervous for fear that I forgot something or that something is not set up correctly or right. That tends to be what I get more concerned about these days.

The best thing I can do to combat it is to get at the gig early enough to properly set up without being rushed and to make myself check lists in my cases so that even if I am not thinking straight, it can focus me to checking what needs to be set up and allows me to remain a bit more calm and in control.

Kyle
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Payne
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Seattle
4572 Posts

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My formal school and library shows take around twenty minutes to set, use multiple tables and most of the props are on display throughout the performance. I also use set pieces and horror of horror's have things on display that may or may not be tricks and might or might not be used in the program.
I create these prop heavy shows because I know that I will have a room all to myself to setup and break down in and have plenty of time on both ends of the program to do so. I specialize in character driven thematic programs so the extraneous props and set pieces add to the theatrical nature of my program. When the audience enters the room it looks like a show is going to be taking place.
It is how I work and it does work for me and I am more than willing to out in that extra amount of effort to make my show visually more appealing than the other guys. It's a reason why the libraries book me above the magicians in town year after year.
There is no single "right" way to perform magic. If someone wants to put props on display in their program and it works for them then more power to them. If we all performed and presented magic in the same way it would be pretty boring and there'd be no reason to book one performer in over another.
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