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Profile of almagic
Hi guys,

After performing magic for children as profession and doing close up magic for 9 years, I have my worst nightmare this afternoon.

Client engaged me for an hour close up magic for theory charity show. When I reach there, I found out that every one is disable.

Not only physical disable but also mentally too, in fact they are all line up in wheel chairs or bed at the hall for STAGE SHOW performances. They couldn't understand anything at all, and has NO response for all performances before mine. My heart Pumping very fast...

And I have done my very worst show in 9 years of performing. I didn't know what will the client say about me, as I have did only a 15mins act instead of an hour close magic as I charges him.

I feel very bad and didn't know what to do. Guys, what will you do? Have you come to this situation before? How do you handle it?
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Profile of calexa
I think you should explain to your client what happend! Tell him the truth, and why don't you offer to perform for him on an other day?

Optimists have more fun.....
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Chicago, IL
935 Posts

Profile of wizardofsorts
Well, I think you should defiantly only charge for what you did. But I might consider giving the entire fee back or offer a free show (but will it be for more differently able people?). I think good communication is your only choice here. You might be surprised the client may not be upset. Next time, make sure you inquire about the make up of your audience. You wouldn't want to show up with your kids show to find out everyone is an adult or vice versa. Maybe you could offer a free juggling/balloon type show (if you do those things) to replace the other wise, ill-fated magic show.
Edd Fairman, Wizard of Sorts is a corporate magician available for your next trade show, hospitality suite, client luncheon, or company event.
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106 Posts

Profile of almagic
You got to understand this. I have performed for disable lots of times and always received good comments. But this time, these group of disable couldn't understand anything and I mean anything, they can't talk, move, etc. No matter what show you put up, there is 100% no response and no one watching.

I think after this experience, I am not taking up any show for disable home or maybe be careful and ask more about the condition of the people.
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Nashua, NH
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Profile of olivertwist
Another thing to remember with the severely disabled is that, while they may show no response, they may have been entertained and enjoyed the show. I'm not saying that this is the case for your audience but I have seen it happen.

The mixup on type of show is a nightmare. I got to a hospital Friday night to do a magic/ventriloquism show and had an audience with only three people who spoke English. I was at a loss. Most of my humor is verbal. They enjoyed the puppets anyway. And I didn't use much patter in the tricks.
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Profile of rhinomax
I think it is important to get up front info on venue (what type of audience) you will engage. Who has booked you?

Both Oliver and myself work a number of hospitals in the Boston area and entertain children at different cognitive levels as well as languages. Due to this it is important to be armed with visual magic and physical comedy routines that work at all levels.

A few good examples are delights, mouth coils, multiplying billiard balls; any kind of juggling is good (I do a simple hat manipulation routine that plays well for all groups).

All of this adds little to the size of your kit and will add greatly to your versatility.

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Profile of Niko
You have done nothing wrong. It is your client who has done wrong. If he is annoyed, you should tell him he has no right whatsoever, as he never informed you that the audience would be all disabled people!

Saying that, you may not have done as bad as you think. But don't think of yourself as in the wrong.
When you do something right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
Michael Baker
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Eternal Order
Near a river in the Midwest
11160 Posts

Profile of Michael Baker
On 2005-05-08 08:19, olivertwist wrote:
Another thing to remember with the severely disabled is that, while they may show no response, they may have been entertained and enjoyed the show...
The mixup on type of show is a nightmare.

Man, oh, man... have I been down that road before. Sometimes you have to put faith in the people who organize the event to be your measuring stick as to whether or not the audience enjoyed the show. As parents and caretakers of the disabled, and organizers of these kinds of charitable events, they know the inner minds of these disabled people much better than many of us do. Non-response doesn't necessarily mean unfeeling.

It was unfortunate, almagic, that you were not properly informed of what to expect. I've been hired to work close-up strolling for a few hours and find out once at the gig, that there are only 12 people there! I'd launched into my "B" material after the first 30 minutes. It's no fun enduring the mental stress that goes with trying to stretch otherwise good material to fit a disproportionate time frame.

This is one of those cases where the medicine is bitter. It teaches you to ask questions. Hopefully the stinging you feel will motivate you to not let it happen again. Obviously, even a 9 year track record isn't enough to say you've seen it all!! You'll be better prepared next time.

Oh, and BTW... if your show was really that bad, maybe it seemed like an hour!

(Just kidding! Smile )

~michael baker
The Magic Company
Eric Leclerc
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Inner circle
Ottawa Ontario
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Profile of Eric Leclerc
I think even if you weren’t comfortable you should of done your full hour instead of cutting it short to 15 minutes. That’s the only thing that is iffy. Even of these people didn't react I am sure your contact would of understood why they didn't.

Don’t think of it as your worst show in 9 years, think of it as another situation you had to perform in that wasn’t what you expected. It will only make you improve yourself in many ways. I am sure next time a show like that comes up you will ask more information about the spectators etc. don't sweat it.
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Profile of almagic
Thanks guys. After almost a week of that nightmare, I have settled down and thought about what went wrong.

I think the biggest mistake is that I have not asked much about the conditions of the disable before accepting the job. I will be more careful after this.

Eric Leclerc,

Think about it, how do you expect me to do an hour show? I was a strolling magic and turn out to be a stage act that the organization did not expect to turn out that way too. And if the material that I carry for close up show is not enough for me to perform for an hour show.

Furthermore, the whole show has totally no response, how I'm I going to drag time? Imagine that you do an ambitious routine that usually take up 5-10mins that with a lot of presentations and chatting with your audiences. And my disable audiences does not react, speak, move and in fact did not response in any way, the routine will immediately cut to 1 min. It's impossible to drag for an hour to what I am doing.
Frank Tougas
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Minneapolis, MN
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Profile of Frank Tougas
I agree with Eric above. Not reacting is not the same as unappreciative. You had no right to renege on your contractual agreement, just because it was uncomfortable. I have been there as well but your reputation as a performer also rests on promises made and promises kept.

If it was the worst show in nine years, doing less than your best may have been a contributing factor. You owe them something, be a professional and figure out how you are going to pay up.

Frank Tougas
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
Mike Walton
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Profile of Mike Walton
On 2005-05-11 12:47, almagic wrote:
Futhermore, the whole show has totally no response, how I'm I going to drag time? Imagine that you do a ambitious routine that usually take up 5-10 mins that with a lot of presentations and chatting with your audiences. And my disabled audiences do not react, speak, move and in fact don't respond in any way, the routine will immediately cut to 1 min. It's impossible to drag for an hour to what I am doing.

Sounds like a tough situation as it was a surprise. From someone who has created magic with individuals in many medical situations, I think you may have been able to "change gears" and performed an extended spongeball routine with each person. Break the mold and switch to walk-around especially if you weren't getting a response on stage. You could have started out with a three phase silk vanish routine. Right there between the two routines, you have at least 5-6 minutes per person. The key would be to use facial expressions and go slowly and deliberately with each phase. As mentioned before, the personal attention and change of colors and materials could have created greater "magic" with this audience, even though their reaction didn't match your standard audiences. Possibly comparing their reactions to those with standard cognitive skills was a bad comparison.

The strength of the feeling of magic relies in the strength of the interaction and engagement. I'd bet you a shiny quarter that the person who booked this event was hoping that the audience members would benefit from the interaction with a magician.

Next time.
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Profile of Paul
Surely there would have been some carers/nurses there that you could have got to assist you with the ambitious card etc. whilst the disabled watched the performance?

Treat this as a valuable learning experience. Learning the hard way means the situation is rarely repeated.

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Profile of pikacrd
On 2005-05-08 09:11, Niko wrote:
You have done nothing wrong. It is your client who has done wrong. If he is annoyed, you should tell him he has no right whatsoever, as he never informed you that the audience would be all disabled people!

Saying that, you may not have done as bad as you think. But don't think of yourself as in the wrong.

I’m sorry but WHAT? You have to be kidding me you would actually blame the client? Wow I have read a lot of unprofessional comments in the Café before but this has to take the preverbal cake. The fault unfortunately lays squarely on Almagic’s shoulders my friend. I hate to say it but it sounds like the problem is that Almagic did not take the time to find out what was to be expected of him or if he did it was not made clear to the client that he was planning on presenting in a close up strolling manner. If you knew that you were going to be performing at a hospital you should have taken the time to qualify exactly what the working conditions were going to be. You should have asked if there were going to be any special needs people in attendance and taken the time to discuss exactly what type of show you would be presenting so that the client would know if you were the correct performer for the show. As a matter of professionalism you probably should have called the client 2 days out from the show just to make sure that everything was clear as to what was going to be expected of you and what you were going to deliver.

As far as performing for 15 minutes and packing up and calling it quits, you defiantly should refund 100% of any monies that you collected. If I were the client I would not have paid you at all based on the fact that you did not perform the agreed upon time. I understand that you were probably a bit freaked out by the situation and I feel for you on that level but as the old saying goes “The Show Must Go On” it is just part of being a professional you should have stuck it out and taken your lumps like a pro. We have all probably had poor or inaccurate information regarding a show from time to time and god help you if you except everything that an agent tells you because half of the time they only have half of the information about the show (the half that involves $$$) but it is all just part of the business and should be expected and planned for.

I think that if it were me I would have done one of two things, first if I was just totally uncomfortable and did not think that I could do it (I am not sure if this would ever really happen) I would have approached the client off to the side and explain that this is not the performing situation that we agreed upon and that I am not prepared to handle this type of audience, or the more realistic I would have pulled some rope out of my close up case and started everything that I could think of that plays big and packs small. I would have used staff volunteers to assist I would have done everything that I do in my close up act but just on a bigger level. Remember that a lot of the greats of magic played packed houses and performed what could be considered close up effects long before video displays. Johnny Thompson used to do a Cig thru silk routine for audiences of over 800 people and have it play bigger than his large stuff.

All and All I would say give the money back with an apology letter and learn from your experiences but never blame the client unless you are just flat out lied to and even then make the best out of it and do what you need to do.

Take care
“Indubitably, Magic is one of the subtlest and most difficult of the sciences and arts. There is more opportunity for errors of comprehension, judgment and practice than in any other branch of physics”. William S. Burroughs 1914-1997 American Writer
Scott F. Guinn
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"Great Scott!" aka "Palms of Putty" & "Poof Daddy G"
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Profile of Scott F. Guinn
Having performed for disabled audiences many times, I can tell you the question that I have asked that has helped me: "How high functioning are they?" People in the mental health field will instantly know what you mean. I further explain that, for magic to work, the audience has to understand what has supposedly happened (the coin was put in my hand) and what the effect is (the coin has disappeared from my hand) and why that is impossible and therefore magic. If they cannot even understand simple tasks and instructions such as going to the bathroom and eating with utensils, they likely won't be able to comprehend or appreciate the magic.

After explaining this, I get one of two responses. Either they function at ahigh enough level that a magic show would be appropriate or they don't. Then I either book the show or I don't. But it is my job to find out if the audience is right for my show, not theirs.
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Profile of almagic

At last you are the one that understand the word disable I mean. These disable can't even eat or do anything by themself, they don't understand anything at all.

People keep saying that I'm wrong and unprofessional, I think they have not been to that situation yet only and have never seen such kind of disable people I mention.

I did sponge ball routine for them, in fact it is surpose to be a very good way to interact with them. BUT.... they don;t even look at you, they cant move their hands, they don't understand, NO RESPONE plus not even looking at you.

My client did not know the disable is in such condition.

I explain close up magic to them. What became a stage show was because on the same day there is another group of people doing charity too. And they have all kind of programme and so became a stage like kind of show. (All programme of cause go to drain) it's the client fault at least partcially.


The show can't go on... As I have mention they are like (dead) you are performing for a group of people that has no respone to you not even look at you. Don't tell me you have enough material with you all the time. You can't be carrying with you all the props that you have with you.

I have explain, a routine with presentation can last very long, without it the magic inself only takes 1min... Do I need to perform 60 magic for them?

I didn;t call it a off after 15mins. I knew the I din't do much for them, so I step aside and do balloons for them. but still, they don;t understand what was that and couldn;t hold on to it.

Well guys, for those who knows how bad the disable I am saying, I think you will know that, there isn;t anyway to perform for them.

I didn't find out more about the condition of the disable is my fault, but the client actually don't really know their condition too. As they did not go down to see them before. And such like here in magiccafe, no ones understand how bad can a disable be...

I couldn't fullfilled my promises is because I have no choice. Unless I have 60 magic props in my car and can perform a 60min show for them. So I did balloons for them to cover up the time.

I didn't refund... I am performing for a living, because of this charity that I want to do my part. I qouted them very cheaply and push away all the shows for theirs. I can simply do another shows and earn more.

Never refund money, you should return him another shows for any kind. Anyway my client didn't complaint and totally uderstand my situation. I am writing into this forum is because I think I have done bad show not that anyone complaint.

I am trying to find out more ways to handle this kind of situation. And I have learn a lot and also knows what to do in the future.

Thank you guys for your help here, and hope that I have shared a experinece with you and always remember to ask for their conditions before agreeing the deal.

For those that insist that I'm totally wrong, then GOOD LUCK to you... You will understand what I am saying when you step into it.
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