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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Performing in nasty weather (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

MagicalArtist
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Hobart, Indiana
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I was at the County Fair this summer and it turned out to be a rather drizzly day (naturally, it was sunny in the morning). Anyway, I got a chance to see a magician and a juggler (in different shows) performing on the outdoor stage.

They performed even though it was kind of a nasty, drizzly day. And they were actually able to drum up a small crowd. I guess the philosophy was "the show must go on".

The magician, in drumming up the crowd, said, "Hey folks, I see you're not letting a little rain keep you from having a good time so I'm not going to let it stop me."

Is it common for performers to work in the rain like this?

And yet, I know many magicians refuse to work in the rain. They have a clause of their contract that if it rains, they will cancel the show and get paid for their trouble in coming out. (I also know magicians who refuse to do outdoor shows at all but that's another story).

This is a question for those festival, fair, and other outdoor performers. Do you perform even if the weather gets nasty? Is it expected of you by the venues that you work for that you will perform, especially if you're going to do several performances during the day or you're contracted to perform at the event for several days in a row? Or are you one of those who will refuse to do a show in inclement weather and will avoid venues where you might be expected to do so?
ku7uk3
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In most cases, the organizer should have prepared with marquees to stand under. In which case, I either get all the kids in one spot and do a regular show, or mince with the adults doing close-up magic.
I have been asked to do my Disco outside on a few occasions. The rain is a problem, as well as the wet grass which no one wants to be on, because of the mud.
On one occasion I refused for safety and so I did a minimalist setup indoors. On another they had me setup up in the doorway, and transmit over a large gap to a marque on the other side of the garden.

I wouldn't perform in the rain for many reasons, mainly because it would destroy all my props and costume and there worth far more than any one show fee.
Also, you would look like a wet dog, and that doesn't look good for the clients. It doesn't matter if you can't control the rain, if you look like a mess at a clients party, they blame you, and not the rain. Go figure.

Depending on what I know in advance, I have my own marquee and although I've never used it before, I would be happy to loan it to the event that was hiring me, for me to perform in etc. But in most cases, I don't find out its needed until I'm at the event and there simply aint enough time to go home and get it once I'm there.

But when safety issues are at stake, insurance claims likely to be high and prop damage is a definite, then don't do anything that will hurt your NEXT show.
Potty the Pirate
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When a client books an outdoor show, I always ask: "what is your contingency plan in the event of rain or bad weather?" Surprisingly, even though in the UK this is a high probability, many event organisers say things like: "Well, we've held this event on 4th August for six years, and it's never rained once". Go figure! I always insist that there is some kind of alternative indoor space/ a marquee where the show can be held. OR have the client agree that they will pay my full fee even if I can't perform. Some clients have said "Well, if it does pour with rain, the event will be a washout, and we'd expect everyone to go home." Hmmm.
I have performed in marquees in thunderstorms before, and it's very noisy, all that rain drumming on the canvas overhead. You need a good amp to carry your voice over it.
On two occasions, the rain has started while I'm twisting balloons, and of course there was a long line of kids waiting for balloons. When that happened, I gradually edged my way towards shelter, the line following me like a slow conga. Once I was standing in a doorway, or under some cover, I was happy enough, and the kids' parents mostly had brollys, so all went OK.
These days I don't offer balloon twisting at outdoor events, because it's just too much hard work!
kimmo
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Sheffield
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Quote:
On 2008-01-07 03:10, ku7uk3 wrote:
I either get all the kids in one spot and do a regular show, or mince with the adults doing close-up magic.


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Tony James
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Cheshire UK
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The basic principle of this job is if you work you get paid and if you don't, you don't. So you work, regardless of the weather.

Having said that, much will depend on the venue, the organisers and you. If you work a town centre outside that's what you do. Ditto a showground. You do the sort of material you are able to do outside, regardless of the conditions..

Clearly if the rain is pounding down like stair rods there won't be anyone there to entertain. Very difficult in a town centre. There will be places (shops)for people to shelter and you won't be able to follow them. You might in a shopping arcade or mall provided your contract allows this. You can't take it upon yourself to follow the people or the mall security will ask you to leave.

On a showground much depends on whether you're contracted to work a specific area or to move around. Many events have a covered stage and all you have to do is withdraw to the back and use the stage area for children to sit, out of the rain.

On the other hand, if you've made the arrangements with the organisers you can work somewhere in a marquee. It may be a squeeze but it works. And don't limit this to wet weather. Sheltering from the sun and heat when it's excessive also requires somewhere like a marquee.

The most important weather aspect in the UK is WHEN does it rain? If it's dry in the morning the crowds will usually turn out and when it rains they will put up their umbrellas and stick it out. If it becomes relentless they will flee to the marquees. There's really nowhere else for them to go. They'd get saturated trying to get back to their cars.

But if the day breaks and it's raining, the crowds simply don't turn out in the first place, even if or when the weather improves later in the day. You're working to a thin audience all day.

With Punch & Judy the show goes ahead outside regardless of the weather. And I'll tell you something. If you get out there and the rain isn't pounding down you'll get an audience. Not a big audience but some. And It only takes one to start. And I have, many times in bad weather, started with literally one child and one adult.

Don't hang about. A quick short warm-up and get inside and start working. The movement of the puppets together with the few watching encourages others to stop and watch. And provided the rain is not heavy they will stay, sheltering under their umbrellas. By the end there will be a very respectable crowd. Admittedly it's a fast show, a speeded up show with some routines cut altogether and others shortened to suit the circumstances but the show works, and the organisers notice.

It's another aspect that Tony James's Traditional Punch & Judy is noted for. Rain or shine, this show works.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
KC Cameron
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You need something in your contract concerning weather. If not, the show must go on. Due to the value of my props, I ALWAYS have a clause in my contract. It isn't just ruining props - if you get sick you may have to cancel other shows. I am always paid AT LEAST half if it rains (and they have no contingency plan) or if it is canceled. I lose a few shows, but I don't like performing outdoors anyway, (unless I am busking, and have more control of things) and usually refer another magician. This last summer I did promo for Skittles (candy) and I kicked myself for taking it. It was hot, and no fun. Summer before that I did promo for Pepsi and it was hot, and not a lot of fun either. You would think I would learn.

If it is just a drizzle, I may give a minimalist show, balloons, close-up, or photo op with Jax my parrot, but that is it. No sound reinforcement, nothing that is going to be damaged.
Skip Way
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I was wondering who they got for that Skittle's promo at the State Fair! Smile I turned them down.

Like the Cap'n, I have a foul weather clause in my contract. Due to the cost of my props and costume and for reasons of health, I don't perform in the open on a rainy day. If it looks like rain I have my own marquee to set up for myself and my audience. I usually set it up so that the sides can be rolled down, as needed. During a lightning storm, I stop everything and vacate the stage for safety reasons.

My problem has always been rain dates. I will only book a rain date as a separate booking. I require a nonrefundable 100% booking fee paid in advance to hold the rain date. My reasoning is that if I accept the rain date booking, I have to block both dates and I'm guaranteed to lose money on one or the other. Time is money - so they must agree to book and pay for both dates in full.
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Tony James
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Cheshire UK
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Quote:
On 2008-01-07 12:00, Skip Way wrote:


My problem has always been rain dates. I will only book a rain date as a separate booking. I require a nonrefundable 100% booking fee paid in advance to hold the rain date. My reasoning is that if I accept the rain date booking, I have to block both dates and I'm guaranteed to lose money on one or the other. Time is money - so they must agree to book and pay for both dates in full.


You've lost me here. What exactly is a 'rain date'? How does it work? How can you know it is going to rain on a particular day? And |I don't understand how a 'rain date' involves block booking 'both' dates. Which 'both' dates?
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
Beowulf
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Thomas A. Lilly
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I do offer a break if the client wants a rain date, but this works only when the job is cancelled before I leave the house.

The folks staging Scarecrow Madness booked me for four hours on a Saturday before Halloween. Their rain date, should the weather go south, was Sunday, so they wanted to reserve the same four hours on Sunday should they get rained out on Saturday.

My fee was my regular hourly walkaround rate for Saturday plus 50% of the regular rate to hold the Sunday hours. I can not book anything else in the Sunday slot, but I keep the 50% whether the weather has me working the second day or not.

As it happened, Saturday turned out to be perfect weather, the client was happy, and Sunday I sat home and read the paper whilst making 50% of my fee for doing nothing.

Tom
Tony James
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Now I understand. Thanks Beowolf. I've never come across this rain date before. If it rains on the day why won't it rain on the alternative date?

here, the date of the event is the date of the event. I've never known any organisation have an alternative date. The date is the date and they go ahead regardless of the weather. Or very rarely they are forced to cancel because of flooding. Something which happened in the exceptional weather last summer.

Are these big events which have alternative dates? Or are they small and personal, household events? And how they organise it? Hire marquees for longer. Why don't they just go ahead regardless?

I've never come across this working in Europe either. Is this something specific to certain regions or is right across the USA and Canada?
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
KC Cameron
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Skip, The Skittles was a bit more profitable than advertized. Not great, but I worked 6 hours for the same cash as what they originally were looking for a weeks work - and I got to pick the times. I just talked with them, and explained what they would be getting. They didn't have the budget, so I lowered the hours. Still, parking was near impossible and it took an near an hour for me to find them, dragging my props in the heat. Getting old. The nice thing is I can add them on the list of national companies I have done promo for. BTW, the company that did the hiring was Disney owned or affiliated, so hopefully better things will come down the pike.

Most midsize to small, outdoors, one day events (like a company party or a fundraiser) here in the Southern US have a rain date. They expect you to keep both dates open, and they just pay for the one that is clear. Often they don't understand why I don't go along with it. Yes it is possible for both dates to be rainy, but not as likely. I don't like working outdoors. Wind, rain, humidity, bugs, heat . . . bah humbug.
MagicalArtist
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Hobart, Indiana
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The situation of the open air stage at the fair I mentioned seems to be the standard way the fair does things, as it was that way during another year I attended too.

I just figured that if one wants to work fairs, one has to expect to work in the rain sometimes. Or maybe it was just the way this fair does things.

The performers seemed to belong to an agency, as they had the same backdrop both years. I got the impression their contract stated "Rain or shine, you're gonna perform, or else!"
rossmacrae
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There are two issues here: "soldiering through" despite inclement weather, and weather cancellations.

The cancellation issue (cancellation by the sponsor) is a touchy one - I settled on one choice, but I can see everyone's point of view.

I can also see how many shows would not lend themselves to playing out under the falling rain or to being moved, but I always took pride in being able to grab my two bags and move under a tent and be "the guy who helped save the day" for attending kids who (unlike their folks) wouldn't have been happy just sitting under a tent and drinkiung beer with their friends.
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