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David Thiel
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Inner circle
Western Canada...where all that oil is
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Profile of David Thiel
One of my pals told me that I make too many lists. I keep track of my props and where they're put. I save scripts for each of the routines I do in a large binder, so that if I am away from them for a while, I can go back and refresh myself on what they were about. I like to list which routines are best suited for large stage shows and which ones play best in parlor or even walkabout, etc.

What am I saying? Since I am, by nature, totally right brained -- a textbook example of ANSADG (A Naturally Sloppy And Disorganized Guy), the discipline of making lists keeps me organized.

A few years ago I found an app for my iPad called "Index Card." It costs about five bucks, I think. It allows me to put one routine on an index card and copy my complete script, development notes etc into an internal page linked to the card. So when I am figuring out which effects to take to each show, I can design the running order by pushing the cards around until I'm happy with what I see.

Over the past week -- with really busy summer looming, I decided to refine my stage shows.

Here's what I did: First I assembled one huge list of all the routines and ideas that I've performed over the past three years. I put everything on it -- even the stuff I was doing when I was just cutting my mentalism teeth. I decided to cut the total number of options for "The New Show" down to 30 -- a figure that still included a fairly large and imposing pile of crap.

I went to my Index Card app and made a "Red Hot" category. This list included the effects I really enjoy performing, effects that play well in large or smaller stages and (obviously) effects that get great reactions from audiences. This is my "A" stuff. Since Index Card allows me to change the color of index cards, I made this category a bright red.

Then I made a "Green" category. These are the effects that I feel completely comfortable drawing on that are ALMOST as good a fit for me as the "Red Hot" options are.

My idea is to draw on these two categories for most of the shows I do. So, I'll just copy the index cards, order them and then paste new shows together.

I also have an "Orange" category. This includes routines and effects I am still developing...or great routines I am doing in parlor shows and close-up that I'm working on re-designing with an eye toward getting them into the stage shows.

I have a "Brown" category too. (Can you guess why it's brown? Smile ) These are a couple of effects that are the lowest ranking of the "best." I don't want to forget I have them, but I don't expect to see them on-stage until they are either totally re-designed or I have a REALLY long stage run for the same audience. Simply put: it's the stuff I can do...but I'm just not excited about it right now.

Why am I telling you guys all of this? Because I really found this exercise useful for re-defining what my act is about...and I think it may be helpful to someone out there who is sitting in the middle of a great pile of props, ideas and routines. Simply put -- doing this with a lot of careful thought really helped me focus my act much more really THINK about WHY each routine is in the act and what it's designed to actually accomplish in the overall structure of the "show."

Each card features a true "running time" based upon real-time performances. It includes notes about what emotion I am trying to create in an audience, what "power" is being demonstrated and where it needs to be in a running order. I've got notes about which routines are a little more intense and which ones will get the audience to laugh and relax. So now I can design and see the "hills and valleys" I want to share with my audiences.

Doing this also helped me develop a through-line for the show. I can adapt to themes now -- and I can clearly see which routines no longer fit the structure of the show,even if I dearly love performing them.

To be honest -- the building blocks of my act didn't change much. "A" material is still "A" material. But I started thinking very critically about each component and how its inclusion fit the show as well as me, as the performer.

Hopefully this is useful to someone.

Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except bears. Bears will kill you.
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Eternal Order
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Profile of Mindpro
I sure hope you are not color blind!
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Inner circle
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Profile of Atlas

It is good to see that I'm not the only one! I employ a similar system using post it notes in books. They are color coded and hold my notes and cross referencing. I don't think the type of system is as important as having a system that makes sense to the user. I also will group sets by theme, so that transitions are smooth as well and the ability being demonstrated is homogenous - if that makes sense.

Thanks for your insight!


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New Orleans
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Profile of MDantes

Thank you so much for sharing this.

This IS a useful post.

Far more useful than anything I've ever shared on here Smile
S.A.N.C.T.U.M Chapter 18

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Leonardo Martins
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Profile of Leonardo Martins
I think building blocks routines is the most delicate part of our work.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

John Raff M
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Republic of Ireland
233 Posts

Profile of John Raff M
On 2013-05-15 12:08, Mindpro wrote:
I sure hope you are not color blind!

LOL. I'm screwed then!!!!!!!! Smile But seriously David that was one of the best posts I've ever read on the café. Really thought provoking sir.

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Caracas, Venezuela
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Profile of NabilT
That's the way to go! furthermore I would like to recommend Google Drive (known as Google Documents in the past), that's what I've been using, basically because it keeps all the information on the cloud so I can access it at my office and at home (can be used on all kinds of gadgets...), is free, and my favorite part: It autosaves.

The way I use it is pretty simple, a folder with a couple of documents, one for ideas and the other for my current show, where every effect is a title, so at the start I can make a content index and have a global picture of the order of the effects, (and print it to get a reminder of the effects order) then theres the description, script, links, some images, and even footnotes.
Andre Hagen
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Inner circle
1433 Posts

Profile of Andre Hagen

I also suffer from of ANSADG (A Naturally Sloppy And Disorganized Guy). However, I also suffer from IP (Incurable Procrastination) I will probably get this app tomorrow and set it up sometime later.

Seriously, thanks for sharing this great idea! I'm going to spring for this app now and may make sense of my clutter yet...someday.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one - Albert Einstein
Rodney Palmer
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1317 Posts

Profile of Rodney Palmer

I am a very, very organized person and I have all of my props on Spread Sheets with the following:

Prop Name
Purchase Date
Purchase Price
Whom I purchased it from
Maker/Builder of effect

Then I have all of my effects listed as:

Show A (BEST EFFECTS all A+ Plus Material) and those are listed in RED

Show B (Good Effects but not my Top A+ Material) and those are listed in Blue

Show C (Ok Effects that can be put in either Show A or B as a filler if needed) and those are listed in Brown.

All of my Instructions are in 3-Ring Binders and each Effect has 2-Sets of Instructions. 1-Set is in my office and the other is in my Safe at home. Yes, I have a very Large Fire Proof Safe. And all of my DVD's have Back up Copies and those are in the Safe as well.

I am very OCD about everything I do and even how I perform on stage. I am my worst critic.

I have had many people come to my house just to see how everything is organized and stored. And not one person has ever left my house and not been amazed.

"Creating Memories That Last A Lifetime"

In order to keep "MAGIC ALIVE" Please become a Mentor to a Young Person.
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