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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Getting trapped in the 'prop heavy' syndrome . . . (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Cheshire Cat
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Wilmslow, UK
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These 'Pack Flat-Play Flat' and 'Pack Flat-Play Big' threads have obviously awakened great debate and thought.

As entertainers (husband and wife working separately) who have always travelled heavy we have followed this with great interest. Now by heavy, we both carry, ready for it . . . large oblong case for magic props, four 2 to 3 foot fully operational trick marionettes, marionette screen and hangers, electrical case with CD/tape player, leads, CDs/tapes etc., double light box that locks into one, alloy table top (legs in electrical case), bag of pre-inflated modelling balloons, and last but not least - a 60 watt combo amp.

Now all this lot is packed into either a large estate car or a 4x4 (we also keep an older winter use only 4x4). So our props have always dominated our choice of transport - no little 1.2 litre Eurobox possible for us! Wonder how much all this has cost us in insurance and fuel over 25 years?

So we're talking around five journeys to and from car here guys, no houseparties these days, no parties up multi flights of stairs or venues without attached parking facilities. Just too much like hard work . . . not the kids, but the logistics.

Ok, now our personal experience has always been one of a "wow" factor by parents and children. We've made the venerable "Stage and TV Today" Newspaper headlines many times here in Britain, and have received many accolades. We've done the heavy workloads some of you mentioned, we've obviously made the money. Now we basically like to just work Fridays/Sats/Suns.

But when we started we were up against the "old fashioned" types of entertainers who did puppets of all varieties, ventriloquism, magic, games, juggling etc. etc. This is why we had to get in there (in 1978) with a big show.

But let me tell you that as you get older this carrying loads of heavy stuff around is no joy. At Christmas we can't (if we wanted to now) fill the day from morning till night with one 45 minute spot after another like a two-suitcase magician can. Physically impossible!

We are quite clearly 'prop heavy' by anyone's reckoning. If we were starting out now (or starting in another area/country) we'd offer a good show with music and variation - but just two journeys to the car (3 well made cases and a combo amp.) would be such a luxury . . .
Neale Bacon
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As birthdays are my main venue, I am not real equipment heavy. I am the proverbial 2 suitcase magic (one for magic one for my ventriloquist figures).

The pack flat debate has been interesting and I am given thought to maybe my show is too "flat" and needs a few bigger props.

After the Christmas season, I am going to be completely revamping my show, adding some stuff and removing others as well as using more of my ventriloquism.

Both of these threads came at a perfect time.

That's why makes this Café so special! Smile
Neale Bacon and his Crazy Critters
Burnaby BC
Canada's Favourite Family Ventriloquist
www.baconandfriends.com
Cheshire Cat
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All the stuff we carry is for the proverbial 2-hour British Birthday Stay by the way Neale (it used to be 3 hours in the 1970s - aaaghhh!). If your show is just a 45 mins. or 1 hour I reckon your Customers are getting good value with both vent. and magic.

Tony.
MarkTripp
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Jarrow....

...sawing a lemon in half.

Some reading and study of magicial history might be a good thing...

...and the beginning of a creative process on a new path.
Cheshire Cat
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No, I'm not going to ask . . . are you Neale?
Regan
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Me neither.

Regan
Mister Mystery
Neale Bacon
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I am Neale. I don't know who Mark Tripp is. I only post under my own name.

I am slightly confused by the question (not a new thing by any stretch)
Neale Bacon and his Crazy Critters
Burnaby BC
Canada's Favourite Family Ventriloquist
www.baconandfriends.com
MarkTripp
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Well, "asking" removes the process of searching and study. It wasn't a "question" more of a "quest".

Sigh

In the Vaudville days when the selbit sawing was HUGE (lines around the block) the theater manager where Jarrow was performing said he too had to put a big miracle in his show to draw crowds.

The next day, all over town, were the posters "Jarrow, sawing a lemon in half".
Cheshire Cat
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Well thank you Mark, the relevance of your 5.48 pm posting is unveiled, and the point duly absorbed.

Really didn't mean to make you sigh . . .

"are you Neale" - yes, that of course could have meant "are you Neale posting as Mark Tripp?" or "are you Neale" (going to ask what Mr Tripp is talking about). Apologies Neale, the Atlantic as it sometimes does, snatched the thread and temporarily submerged it!

Now to attempt to salvage the thread . . . What was it about? I've forgotten now . . . ah yes, 'prop heavy'. Of course during the Summer I drive my estate car which is front wheel drive and has no prop . . .
Billy Whizz
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Hi Ace,

I've discussed this with Emazdad recently. When I go to Spain to live, I intend to do a shorter show than I do now (45 mins or an hour instead of 2 hours). The problem we have at the moment is that everyone knows that we (Emazdad and I) do a two hour show, with balloons for all the kids at birthday parties. To reduce that to a 1 hour show, I think we would lose a lot of work, as people now want the entertainer in this area to make their party stress free. I think they would probably look at other entertainers who will do 2 hours before actually booking us first.

When I move to Spain, I wont other to do any games, or make balloons for all the kids at the end, but just do my main 1 hour show, which will cut down on a lot of the equipment I carry into shows.

At the moment I carry my main magic box, a music box, amplifier, Dusty Rabbit's box, 3 stands for the boxes, a 14 foot magic wooden line folded in half and my backdrop. It takes 3 journeys to the car, but the trouble is, 2 of the journeys are carrying heavy boxes, which is a pain in the a## when going up an down stairs or carrying a long distance. Like you I avoid taking bookings if I cant park outside or when there are too many flights of stairs.

In Spain, I only intend working the hotels. Although I'm starting Spanish lessons soon to get me by. And I don't intend working as much as I do know. I'm going to cut it down to 3 or 4 days a week. And then play loads of golf.
Decomposed
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Prop heavy....that's me....numerous trips to my Nissan Sentra compact. My 8 yr old assistant holding bunny's pet taxi in her lap.....sigh:( And yet another trip to the local thrifts today picking up cheap props/toys for my next show.....one of these days Alice.....

Mark, do you have a web site?
Cheshire Cat
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Thanks Billy for highlighting so well the 'rod for our own backs' that some of us - especially us British full party guys and girls, have made for ourselves. I recall Ken Scott's quote here: "making their living room like a theatre" which I personally agree with wholeheartedly. But some of us (ourselves especially) probably went over the top years ago, and once you do this it's hard to pull back. We thus start to become resentful of entertainers who just carry two suitcases and can work anywhere. Over the years I have been scornful of them in publications, and in latter years over the web.

But I guess it's like eating your daily RDA of greens and fruit, - getting the right balance! Not charging people good money for a few bits out of a case on one hand, and at the same time not going over the top taking Zig Zag up five flights of stairs to the playroom for Mrs Cohen's little boy Daniel's 4th party (when Daniel would be equally impressed by Run Rabbit Run).
Rupert Bair
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Hi,
I am so prop heavy if I was on my own it would 5 trips made up of

Two roll on tables
one side table
rabbit in his carrier
mirror box

for larger shows
two pop up baskets
and a suitcase

and sometimes some non magical things, giveaways spinning plates ect.

when I go round the primary schools with my school I have to do a flat pack act its ok but id rather
do a proper big show, it also alows me to try new stuff as I'm not getting paid.

that reminds me Tony I need to make a trip up to your way to get some balloons of Mitch perhaps I'll see your there sometime.
Matt
Payne
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For house parties it is one trip to the car. My Valise and Leg-O-Matic folding chair in one hand and my Run Dragon Run and Laundry Harbin in the other. I have a performing surface that clamps on my chair for one table and I carry a folding Harbin table for a side table if I need it. Everything gets pull our of the valise and then put back or deposited in the hamper. Set up time is less than 5 minutes and the act runs for half an hour or forty five minutes though I could easily do an hour with the same setup.
My library programs are more elaborate and require the use of a hand truck (or my massive rolling table if it's my Potter show" but I can still get everything in in one trip except if I'm doing my Poe show which requires a second trip for the CD player.
These shows require the above as well as a foot locker with the bigger props and my backdrop. Set up for these shows can be done in ten minutes if I rush but generally I like to take a half an hour or so which is never a problem as I've usually got the conference room where these shows are typically held all to myself before and after the performance.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Emazdad
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I carry much the same as Billy, but only for 2-hour shows. For 1-hour shows I don't take the music box.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Rupert Bair
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What sort of music do you play? and do you do actions?
matt
Andy Wonder
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I find if funny children can¡¦t understand the necessity to make more than one trip. They must think we are real magicians and can carry unlimited items in our pockets.

I make 2 or 3 trips into a venue to set up for a kid¡¦s party. Usually, 2 in & 3 out. I often find after my first trip in if the children have noticed & greeted me then they are totally perplexed they I immediately leave again. I have a standard funny thing I say in this situation. After greeting the children I farewell them and say ¡¥See you next year!¡¦

Again when I am packing up after the party I leave the rabbit & his box until the final of 3 return trips to my car. I usually get bewildered children follow me trying to explain I¡¦ve forgotten my rabbit and ask did I plan to leave him behind. I always have kids yell out ¡¥You¡¦ve forgotten your rabbit!¡¦ Sometimes they will ask am I intending to leave it for the birthday child. It happens at almost every show. They never tell me I have forgotten my PA system, no one notices that. What funny thing can I say in this situation?
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
Emazdad
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Hi Matt, I use:-
The fast food song (with actions)
Hey Baby,
Superman (blacklace, with actions)
Follow the leader (modern version not disney with actions)
Who let the dogs out,
musicman (blacklace, with Actions)
The ketchup song (with actions)

Not all are used every time, it depends on how I feel.

If you have more than one trip to the car, you can run into the problem I had one xmas. I'd just finished a xmas party, and I struck down all my stuff and took the first lot out. My coomber is carried in it's own bag by a strap which you can put over your shoulder, I returned to the room to find 2 x 3 year olds playing tug of war with my coomber. I took it off them and looked towards the Adults who were watching,(it was one of those parties where the Adults use it as an excuse to get drunk), "Kids Eh!" exclaimed one of the Mum's, "Oh yes" I said not hiding the venom in my voice "Kids eh!, but wouldn't it have been nice if one of you had had the decency to take it off them" They all their heads dropped guiltily.

Funnily enough when they phoned to book next year I was fully booked.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Rupert Bair
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I think its funny that your much more in touch with my generation than I am knowing all the actions I don't have a clue althogh I learned music man. I will have to come to emazdad teaches you actions class.
Matt

Andy:
Do you think I can plug my microphone into the rabbit? no? well what shall I take, the rabbit or the music system.

Matt
Emazdad
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It's what puts both mine and billy's parties above all the rest, we keep our ears to the ground, and as soon as a new fun party song appears we get it.

If you put a party dance song on like Superman, and just stand there 2 things happen:-
1, a few of the girls will dance and try and do the moves.
2, the boys will do a wall of death around the room chasing and fighting etc.

If you stand in front and lead them through the moves you get can them all up dancing.

I did a 2-hour party last year for a load of 6 year olds and had the kids firmly under control the whole time. For some insane reason the booker had decided that she wanted a 4 hour party so had booked a DJ to do the final 2 hours, on the phone I had advised her it was a bad idea.

I finished gave the kids their balloons and packed up, the DJ started, and it was as I described above, chaos, made worse because the kids had the balloons and the boys were fighting with the balloon swords.

I loaded my stuff went to say cheerio to the booker who by now was already stressed out and panicing, out of the 30 kids ten were on the dance floor the rest boys and girls were like wild animals.. "Is it always like this after your show?" she asked.
"Only if your silly enough to book a disco to follow me, instead of letting them go home, Now you know why I advised you against it on the phone. Don't worry though you've only got another 1 3/4 hours to go." was my reply, then I did a hasty exit..
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
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