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Profile of natswift
Thank you all for your input and the ideas several of you have PM'd me.

I really think this has opened a can of worms I didn't want open.

I've thought hard and spoke with several of my close friends regarding this issue. First of all, I know that fire is not, let's say smiled upon in a school auditorium. As my son still goes to this school and I could potentially get more bookings from them, I have decided against the use of fire, no matter how small a flame it may be.

However the effect is good enough that #1 I don't want to remove it from my set just because I'm not going to burn it and #2 I don't think it will take away from the effect at all to simply have an assistant cut up the paper into shreds; I'm actually thinking about adding a "tongue in cheek" statement about them holding onto the paper and when I turn around find that it has actually been cut up.

This thread was intended to look at the details involved in scripting and "staging" a show more than a debate on the use of fire.

Still open to other ideas but for now, I'm going to run with what I know and will post follow ups and hopefully a report about a great show!
Never forget to dream!

Nathan Smith
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Jimmy Fingers
1166 Posts

Profile of magic4545
Burning a business card, billet, or playing card can be one of the biggest pains that you can experience. When it won't light, it just won't light. When it's illegal or unsavory to use the fire, it's an annoyance and a hassle. When it does light, it's a loooooong process.

Has anyone thought of just using a magic marker, and then marking out the letters of the word on the piece, so that it's now completely gone, and can't be seen again?

How about a premise or excuse for doing it... In other words, what if you told the audience that you could press a button on the black magic marker, and it would become an eraser of any yellow on the post it. Now, as a joke, and a perceptual conundrum, you just black out the word by scribbling it out.

I know that sounds silly, but there aren't a lot of convenient ways to get rid of information that has been written.

This would be best done with a black magic marker. If the scribbling is circular and like random letters, then you can make the information on the post-it completely illegible, if not actually making the word vanish, on some level.

Please don't disregard this concept and idea. It should be kept in the back of your mind as a possibility when discarding information.

Just saying.

I hope that this either creates something or helps someone out of a jam.

Also, what about dry erase on glossy business cards. God knows that you can't write on these glossy cards with a ballpoint pen!

Jimmy Fingers
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The UK, Portsmouth
2579 Posts

Profile of Sealegs
No can of worms has been opened regarding the use of fire. I think we're all pretty much, as far as I can see, in agreement.

Re the scripting and staging of the show... of course in order to deal with these considerations you first have to established what is being scripted or staged... ie, fire or something else.

I think the thread has been rather interesting.

And I personally think you have made the right choice regarding how to proceed in this particular situation. (ie one where you know already that the venue has an adverse view on the use of fire)

My thoughts are that while there are other options to burning (some good ones suggested in this thread, eating rice paper, shredding, etc) there's no doubt that there is something rather theatrical about a naked flame.... and something permanent, visible and final about the destroyed condition of a thing being rendered into ashes. It's hard to better.

The points that Jimmy raises about the possible problems with using fire are certainly worth bearing in mind but as long as the burning procedure is appropriate for the venue and the routine and the burning procedure thought out and built into the scripting and pacing of the routine.... the alternatives often feel severely lacking in comparison.

I would say if the routine benefits from including burning, use it when it is appropriate which will be the vast majority of the time.

As Bob Cassidy has already mentioned the venue will rarely give cause to worry regarding being able to burn a small billet and so the problem shouldn't be overstated as one...

BUT on the occasions that fire is an issue for the venue, or of course you realise that for some other reason that is not sensible to use it, such considerations ought to be accommodated either by dropping the routine or finding an alternative to burning.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
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