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latentimage
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It seems that there are many knowledgeable magicians who regularly read this section of the forum, so I thought I would post this question here. It's going to sound quite similar to some other posts that have been made here already in a few ways, but near as I can find, none of them really answer my question. If I am asking something that has been covered before, I apologize. I would also like to make it clear that I'm not trying to avoid starting at the bottom of the "ladder of success", looking around for short cuts, or trying to seek out people to say things I want to hear. Now that that's out of the way, I need to give a little background about myself for this to make sense...

I am a magician returning to the art after several years off. By several, I mean about eight years. I have some clippings and what not from newspapers and such from things that I did back then, but they are irrelevant now. Even if they weren't, jumping right back into working again where I left off wouldn't be possible since I need lots of real world practice again before that becomes a possibility. Basically, I am trying to figure out some kind of a venue where I can reacquire my skills of doing a high quality live show that actually flows naturally and is something that people want to come see. The problem I'm having though, is that I have always been a stage magician. When I was younger, I did many birthday parties, high schools and middle schools and elementary schools. I never liked it very much, though. Children are not my thing. A few years ago I got back into the business a bit doing walk around to try that out. People liked it and my employers were happy, but that's not me either.

Prior to that, what I was successful at doing, and really enjoyed, was what I have now learned (from reading here) is the whole "four wall" thing. I worked with another magician, and we would put up our money to rent out theaters, halls, community centers and the like and sell our own tickets. We would do between an hour to an hour and a half show, and for some reason we did very well. We did all of our own advertising, but it was really only ads in the paper and flyers. I have no idea how we ended up actually getting people in the seats, but we did. We weren't selling out stadiums or anything, but we would have no problems getting over 100 plus people to come out to a show in a theater that seated 150. I think it was probably just luck in combination with being young and not thinking it was possible to fail. Each show had someone running lights, sound etc., and everything was scripted and on cue to music. We had probably about 4 or 5 people working for us in one way or another too, which helped.

I want to get back into doing shows like these, because it's all I know and all I have any desire to do. Putting together the show and finding the people to help me run it isn't as big of a problem as the fact that I need to find venues where working my way back up to the four wall thing is possible. We are loaded with small theaters in my area that can be rented, but people don't know me in the area I live in now, and I know very well I can't fill even half of a 100 person theater. On top of that, the entire act is going to need blocked, with music and lighting cues worked out, in addition to working pieces in and out of the show. I'm taking my time getting everything ready to go again, and I am not rushing things. Some days though, it's just difficult to get myself motivated because I am afraid when I work out all the pieces I would like to do to a level that I find acceptable, that I won't have any place to perform. I'm not concerned about making money right now. I just need to find experience.

So, If anyone can offer some insight on where I can re-hone my skills, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm sorry for the long post by the way.

Best,
Allen
"Come to the edge," he said, They Said "We Are Afraid," "Come to the edge," he said, They Came, He Pushed Them...And They Flew. -Apollinaire

"If there be a skeptical star, I was born under it. Yet I have lived all my days in complete astonishment." -W. MacNeile Dixon
Bill Hegbli
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You hone your skills with practice and rehearsals. You really answered your own questions, except the part about taking your time, why? If you don't have the desire, drive and motivation, then you will fail. "I would like to" is much different then I have to, or need to, and nothing else means anything to me. When you call all your friends together, how are you going to get them excited about your need to perform, if you are not excited.

Get your local radio stations to give some tickets away for mentioning your event. Use the theaters you have available. This is the time of year, where you have people in the holiday season spirit. This is your best time to put on a show or shows. But a lot depends on your city and area in the country. If you are not in a vacation city or town, then you have to travel from city to city and set up shows in other small theaters, otherwise, you can only do one show a year, and they have to change to get people to come back for a "new" show experience.
latentimage
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Thanks Bill, that makes a lot of sense. I guess I may just have to get to the point where I am ready and go for it. I really like the idea about the radio stations. That would work perfectly in my area I think.

When I said take my time, I meant making sure I am where I want to be artistically and professionally again after so many years off from performing. I am still working on writing the show right now, and then I will have to make sure the crew is on the same page as well. I just want to make sure it's 100% before renting out a theater. I figured maybe there was some sort of venue I wasn't thinking of that might take variety acts or something as a way of getting out and performing stage magic again before doing a full evening show. I suppose times have changed though, and I'm probably looking for something that's no longer in existence and hasn't been since the 50's.

Thanks again,

Allen
"Come to the edge," he said, They Said "We Are Afraid," "Come to the edge," he said, They Came, He Pushed Them...And They Flew. -Apollinaire

"If there be a skeptical star, I was born under it. Yet I have lived all my days in complete astonishment." -W. MacNeile Dixon
Ken Northridge
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Allen,

I understand kid shows and restaurant work are not your thing. However, I would suggest that those venues are the perfect way to hone your skills. Kids, although difficult, are honest and will tell you if something needs improvement in their wonderful charming way. Smile Restaurant work forces you to perform over and over. I realize that some skills you may not use in your stage show, but some you will, and you will definitely use the skill of performing in front of people in various types of situations.

Also, you could build your base of customers this way send them all an email blast when you have your ‘four wall’ type of events.

Good Luck!
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
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Robin4Kids
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If you have any dinner theaters in your area, they are sometimes looking for shows to fill in between their scheduled plays. If none are available, you may want to talk with a full service hotel about going in with you to put on a dinner theatre.
Dannydoyle
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First thing to do is learn math. Seriously.

Even if you sold out a 100 seat theater with 5 people working for you and advertising on your own and then splitting the money with someone else how much could you possibly make?

Before you go too far and spend a ton of time and money make sure you set clear realistic goals.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Al Angello
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Starting at the top sounds like a great idea, and I think that it is unrealistic expectations though. I wish you the best my friend, and after you have successfully started at the top come back and let us know how you secceeded to do the impossible.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
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Mindpro
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Funny, I too thought the whole dollars and cents thing didn't make much sense.

There are several things to address here that you mentioned. If you are a stage performer who is your target audiences. Since adults rarely go out to see a magic show, it should be family audiences - kids and adults, three generations.

if you are just looking for a "slot" a variety show at theme parks, casinos, or schools could work. My preference would be to create your own venues either for just yourself and your act or combined with other acts I the form of a variety or talent show.

If you are doing a family stage show, and initially money is not important but rather a place to workout your show, improve it, tweak it, record it, review it, get comfortable performing it, get tight with your crew, and most of all simultaneously be putting together your marketing, promotion and business plan and materials, there are many of places where you can do this quite easily. The key is that you aren't seeking profit, only to cover expenses in the name of "pre-production" for your going public for profit with your Four-Walling.

There are many places that would welcome such an arrangement with open arms in the form of a fundraiser or family event outing. The typical problem is finding places that are profitable. If, during this pre-production phase profiting isn't crucial, find venues best suited with your needs and formally (with a promotional one-sheet and proposal outline) approach them, give them your available dates/time-table and window, and schedule as many as you need possible. This is a great way to rehearse before a paying audience with paying expectations, develop relationships with venues that could be profitable later when you are ready for the Four-Wall phase, and you could help some people, businesses, etc. in the process.

Schools, churches, community theaters, charity events, community centers, fraternal or social clubs, sports and recreational centers, etc. - anywhere that has a stage and the requirements for your show. Especially if they can profit from this, you should have no problem getting them on board. Only offer one date per venue, charity or business. Don't let them take advantage of you and don't allow yourself to become known for doing this.

I once went and saw Cheap Trick do a small 150 people club date as part of rehearsal and pre-production for their greatest hits concert tour. They offered to play a club because it had the large needed stage and sound capabilities. They were creating a win-win with the venue. The venue understood and accepted this as a rare, unique opportunity.

One of the other greatest elements to doing this is it can not only be good for the practice and rehearsal of your show, but it can actually be great "practice" and "rehearsal" for four-walling. Learning the ropes, knowing how and what need to be done and how to make all of the many elements and facets come together as needed to create the formula necessary for four-walling to work.

All of this is a process and this can offer you assistance and experience in all facets of the process. Actually I wish more interested four-wallers could be able to approach and do it ti this way. It could result in many less four-wall failures. The simple truth is most can't afford to do this.

Self-admittedly you yourself said you don't know how you did it before and got crowds of 100+ in the venue. This can't be left to chance. This is also what needs to be perfected or at least better understood during this process. If it's not I can almost assure you of failure.

The single-most greatest advice I can offer here is to focus on the business part equally if not more than the show part if four-walling and stage shows are where you are heading and want to excel. Education in theater and stage shows is much different to performing for private parties and consumer events.

Radio and media should only come into play when ready and are only a "tool" on your promotional toolbox, and will not fill your seats with butts. Working the media is a skillset of it's own, put can be an important part of the formula when ready.
latentimage
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Wow, these responses have been fantastic. I have a lot to think about, and some excellent options to consider. I am on my way to a real computer right now, so I will reply in greater depth once I get there. The phone is a pain to type on. Specifically, I'll address the money issues.

Thank you all again,

Allen

I just wanted to address these first and get it out of the way.
Quote:
On 2013-11-16 10:09, Dannydoyle wrote:
First thing to do is learn math. Seriously.

It seems unfair to accuse me of not being able to do math, especially since you haven't any idea what I consider to be success. Some people just like to perform, and would consider it a success any time they were able to do a show and come away with anything less than a negative amount of money. I'm not saying this is how I feel, but I think it's a valid point. Also, I haven't provided any calculations here, so I'm not sure how you reached your conclusion. I'll explain how I worked the theater shows and what I meant by being successful in a minute. Your advice to be realistic is great. Perhaps I am reading too much into how you said what you said, and you didn't mean it as an insult. If so, my apologies.
Quote:
On 2013-11-16 11:10, Al Angello wrote:
Starting at the top sounds like a great idea, and I think that it is unrealistic expectations though. I wish you the best my friend, and after you have successfully started at the top come back and let us know how you secceeded to do the impossible.

Thanks for the response, but I'm wondering if you read what I wrote to begin with. I'm not trying to start at the top, and I pretty much stated I am willing to work for free. I think where we differ here is that you must consider "stage magic" to be the pinnacle of the art. I disagree. From my point of view, for example, Ricky Jay is the best magician in the world. Even though he performs close-up magic (mostly, anymore), I don't believe for a second he hasn't made it because he doesn't have a Copperfield-like show. The point of the post was to ask where I could do my act to practice it, and for free if needed. With that in mind, please explain your comments.
"Come to the edge," he said, They Said "We Are Afraid," "Come to the edge," he said, They Came, He Pushed Them...And They Flew. -Apollinaire

"If there be a skeptical star, I was born under it. Yet I have lived all my days in complete astonishment." -W. MacNeile Dixon
Dannydoyle
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If you are going to be defensive when people add facts then I am out of here.

Yes each has his own definition of success. I stand corrected.

I reached my conclusion by the size of the venues and what an average no name (Sorry but that is what you are.) who has to rent a theater and pay at least 5 people and advertise. Reaching conclusions is fairly easy when you just look at reality.

But again if somehow mentioning facts is insulting you then I am done.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
latentimage
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Ken, Robin and Mindpro...great advice. Thanks very much. I intend to put it all to use while I'm working everything out. It seems everyone is curious about what I meant regarding the shows I used to do and how we could have possibly been successful, so please let me explain.

First, keep in mind this was several years ago, and prices for various things have probably changed. We would generally start by renting some theater or auditorium. This was surprisingly inexpensive, but none of them held too many people, and most were community owned...either community centers, high schools, churches etc. Rental usually ran between 200-300 dollars for the time we needed to do a show. Our main stage hand was the other guys brother. We got lucky there and he always worked for free. The others came from the community theater circuit, really. These were older people who usually did theater work in the area because they loved it, and not for a living. So, we would usually offer one of these people thirty bucks (fifteen-dollars an hour about) for their time to come and read off the cue sheet and hit the buttons. Since he normally did this for free, he though a few dollars and a couple tickets to the show was a pretty good deal. He always did a great job. Like many magicians, musicians or what have you, skill isn't always measured by success or wealth. I have found this to be particularly true with theater people. We dealt with the other workers the same way. A few tickets to the show, and a couple bucks for helping out. Everyone had a great time.

So basically, we were in it right there for about 420.00. We didn't have any trouble selling tickets for about 15 dollars a piece, which put us at about 1350 before costs (allowing room for some free tickets). We did our own advertising for the show and got in the papers, but that never cost anything. We would just call and tell them we were doing something, and they always wanted pictures and info to put in the paper. Otherwise, we just put up lots and lots of fliers. We had one that we used quite a bit that we had some guy draw up in black and white, which he did for free. Black and white copies were five cents at the post office (when the post office still had copy machines) so 100 copies set us back five bucks. I suppose we spent gas money driving around and handing them out, but that was about it. I find it hard to believe people saw a flier and decided to come to the show, but who knows I guess. There may have been other costs I'm not thinking of, so let's say we left with 700 dollars between us, which sounds about right. 350 dollars was ok with me to be doing what I loved to do.

Of course, none of this included the cost of the effects, or taking care of birds, rabbits etc. I realize that, so it's also something to consider. Thinking about it now, most of the people probably showed up because we advertised heavily at the places that we were going to play. So most of the people who ended up seeing the ads were people who went to see stuff at that theater in the first place. The same thing with schools, churches, whatever. When we were going to play there, we asked them to announce it to their people.

Going back to my initial question, I would be working alone this time. That means I can keep more of the profits, but I know I'm not ready to jump into this right now headfirst. I've stated that several times. That's why I was asking about particular venues or approaches that might lead to getting good practice for stage magic. My favorite part of my act was always my doves. I want to be able to do that again someday in it's entirety, so hopefully hard work and dedication will eventually get me there.

Thanks to everyone who answered my question in your responses, and I'm still going through the info. I'm sure the information will eventually help others besides me too, so any additional thoughts would be great.
"Come to the edge," he said, They Said "We Are Afraid," "Come to the edge," he said, They Came, He Pushed Them...And They Flew. -Apollinaire

"If there be a skeptical star, I was born under it. Yet I have lived all my days in complete astonishment." -W. MacNeile Dixon
Bill Hegbli
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I all you want to do is practice, then get ahold of all the Senior Centers, and retirement homes, and old people homes and facilities. Just be aware that the more convalescent the home, the more they will not be able to do more then hold something in their lap.

Many comedians say they try out material in these kinds of homes. Be aware that the administrator may not treat you very well, as it is free and he/she does not really care. You have to also make sure they will move the people to the party room. I have heard some stories how being it is free, they do not feel it is that important.

No there is actually no where to just go perform a variety act, if there were, wouldn't you think everyone would know about it. That is why no one can name exact places. These days you have to make your own path. Problem is you have to work just as hard and sell, sell, sell, to get them to think your idea will be good for their business.

I once offered a show for a small magic show in their small room with a stage. The director said why should I so an event that only brings in a few hundred dollars, when she could do a Casino Night and make $20,000. Hard to see that any additional revenue brought in would not be enough to here thinking. I really was shocked with here thinking.

Most restaurants believe their food brings in the business. Small Theaters are geared to children plays, thus you have to see if they want to make additional revenue for their theater. You would be surprised how many do not want to stray from putting on children plays.

Dinner Theaters, are hard to get into as well, as in our area, they are closed most to the week, thus there is no available none theater in the round nites. Also trying to show magic in the round is very difficult, as magic is more visual then other arts.

Professional sales hint: People will say, "No" seven to ten times, before they say, "yes". So have a sales pitch ready.

I agree, you are not starting at the top. Funny, how some people think performing parties and banquets is not the Top, but if you want to perform in a theater, it is the Top of theater work.

Copperfield then started at the top on stage in Chicago. Then started at the top on television, as I did not see him do commercial work until after his television specials were aired.
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Quote:
On 2013-11-16 16:43, Dannydoyle wrote:
If you are going to be defensive when people add facts then I am out of here.


My inability to do math is a fact? I thanked you for your input, but it looks to me like you are looking for fight. I'm not going to give you one. Sorry.
"Come to the edge," he said, They Said "We Are Afraid," "Come to the edge," he said, They Came, He Pushed Them...And They Flew. -Apollinaire

"If there be a skeptical star, I was born under it. Yet I have lived all my days in complete astonishment." -W. MacNeile Dixon
Dannydoyle
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So not agreeing with you is looking to fight?

Your formula will lose you money every time you try it.

How do you plan to replace the free labor? It is a large cost. As you said cost of just doing the show is pretty large animal wise and such.

If you want to do it regularly, you need to scale it up. You need to be able to go into places where you do not have connections, travel and put the show in. Trying to simply point out monumental expense is trying to fight with you somehow?

Sorry reality is so disagreeable to you. Good luck with it. I hope you do well.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
latentimage
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Quote:
Sorry reality is so disagreeable to you. Good luck with it. I hope you do well.

I'm not concerned about making money right now. I just need to find experience.

So, If anyone can offer some insight on where I can re-hone my skills, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm sorry for the long post by the way.
[/quote]
It's not about disagreeing. I purposefully asked a question that should not have resulted in this. You answered a question that I didn't even ask because the one I did ask didn't leave you any room for a negative response. It was a simple "does anyone know where I can do a free stage show so I can practice". I think it's clear that I'm not trying to be the next Criss Angel here. I just want to do my thing and go back to putting on a good show. Every single person posting on this thread has more experience than me, and I'm quite certain you do too. You don't have to remind me that I'm a nobody in magic, I never claimed otherwise. The fact that I asked for advice on here in the first place should have been a good indicator of that.

I would still like to hear more input from others, so I can't respond to these anymore. If I do, they will lock the thread I'm sure. To be clear, I have learned quite a bit from your other posts in this section, and know you have good stuff to say. Just because I don't post often doesn't mean I'm not always reading.
Quote:
On 2013-11-16 17:01, Bill Hegbli wrote:
I all you want to do is practice, then get ahold of all the Senior Centers, and retirement homes, and old people homes and facilities. Just be aware that the more convalescent the home, the more they will not be able to do more then hold something in their lap.

This is all great stuff Bill. I am thinking senior centers are going to be the first places I try. I have done one or two shows in similar places a long time ago, and I actually had a pretty decent experience. Seniors seem to appreciate magic in a different way than the younger crowd. I suppose that might be a result of being around for Johnny Carson, Mark Wilson etc. Not to mention the fact that they probably remember variety acts and such.
"Come to the edge," he said, They Said "We Are Afraid," "Come to the edge," he said, They Came, He Pushed Them...And They Flew. -Apollinaire

"If there be a skeptical star, I was born under it. Yet I have lived all my days in complete astonishment." -W. MacNeile Dixon
Bazinga
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Quote:
On 2013-11-16 17:01, Bill Hegbli wrote:
I all you want to do is practice, then get ahold of all the Senior Centers, and retirement homes, and old people homes and facilities. Just be aware that the more convalescent the home, the more they will not be able to do more then hold something in their lap.

Many comedians say they try out material in these kinds of homes. Be aware that the administrator may not treat you very well, as it is free and he/she does not really care. You have to also make sure they will move the people to the party room. I have heard some stories how being it is free, they do not feel it is that important.


I hate it when people think and treat these as throw-away, and unimportant gigs!

Especially when they have no experience in working them, but rather pass along bullzhit based on stories they "heard."

Bazinga!
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I have never met a comedian who does such a thing. Of what use is it to perform for an audience that can barely respond if at all? Comedians specifically need to know feedback from an audience.

But lets be at least clear about what we are speaking. They have 55 and over communitie which is an entire circuit right now. But if you do them it had better be with an actual show.

The fact is that any audience that pays to see you deserves a show worthy of the money and not to watch you rehearse. This is a balance you have to strike between being ready and needing to generate income. Nobody can say when you are ready but an audience. Usually they vote with their dollars.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Mindpro
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Yeah, I've got to agree here too about the comedians. Of all types of performers, comedians know and understand that their material is usually created and targeted to s specific audience and they are very aware of trying to only perform for their audience. Knowing and having personally booked over 300 comedians I don't know a single one that would try out any material for seniors or senior's facilities.

Today's 55 and older generation (Baby Boomers) is the last generation to be raised on live entertainment, and therefore expect a true "show" and real entertainment not just a performance and anything less they will be able to see through. They are not a throw-away audience or demographic as they are the largest segment of of our population.

Seems only magicians look at seniors as this starved-for-any-type-of-entertainment-while-they-are-sitting-there-in-their-Depends-drooling-and-nodding-off. This is not the case. They also do not want to see your kids show or find it acceptable either. The senior market is and can be a viable market but not in the way most around here seen to perceive it as.
Bazinga
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Dannydoyle and Mindpro,

Thank you gentlemen. True professionals, both of you.

Bazinga!
Al Angello
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If you keep moving the goal pasts no one will be able to outsmart you, and being evasive is no way to get help either.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
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http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
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