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vpatanio
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Hey everyone,

I am tentatively slated to perform at a Halloween festival at the end of this year and would like to start planning for it now. This will be my first official public performance and am in great need of some feedback from everyone at the Café. The festival is suposed to be running from 5pm to about 8:30pm and I would getting a booth type area to perform. What do you think about 2 or 3 short 20 minute shows spaced out throughout the evening?

Effects I had in mind: What are your thoughts?

1) open with a cut and restored rope effect (A basic one I learned from Mark Wilsons CCIM)

2) GJ 3 Fly from the Flying Tonight DVD (or maybe I'll do Lee Ashers 3 stylin')

3) Maybe a "do as I do" effect with a member of the audience

4) Close with my cups and balls 2 cup routine (I figured given the setting, candy for the audience would make a great final load)

Anyway, your input is well appreciated.

-Vinny
Dynamike
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Can you do the Linking Rings?
vpatanio
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I don't own rings...but they are on my list of things to get.

-Vinny
magic4u02
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Hi Vinny. I specialize in festivals and fairs and do a lot of them every year. May I ask if you are being hired by the festival as an entertainer or are you getting in by being a vendor? I ask because this will make a difference in what you can and can not do while at the festival. My pleasure to help you as much as I can.

Kyle
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vpatanio
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I would be there as an entertainer, not as a private vendor.

-Vinny
magic4u02
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Aww ok. Well then if that is the case, then I would work with the festival and tell them what you would recommend for them. Normally, what works best is 30 minute shows. This gives festival patrons enough time to watch the show and have a god time, but also does not keep them from seeing the vendors etc. Festivals usually love this time limit.

I also suggest 2 or 3 shows through out that time frame that you are there. My day package usually includes 2 30 minute shows. If they pay more, they can add more shows to the day as desired. You will also want to be sure wherever you are set up, that people can see you easily and can hear you as well. Festivals tend to be noisy, so bringing a sound system, or asking for one, is ideal and sometimes critical.

You will also want to make sure that the festival has you in an area that you can draw a crowd and nt block other vendors or cause any traffic flow problems. This can usually be solved by simply talking things over with the festival in advance.

Be very careful when doing candy etc. for a festival show. If you produce it and the kids are too close, they will just go crazy trying to reach for it. Also, never throw it out into the audience for the same reason. You want to entertain but also keep total control of the situation as well.

Hope this helps.

Kyle
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vpatanio
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Thank you for the advice Kyle, it really means a lot. I will definitely take that into consideration...I guess the candy idea is good in theory, but in actuallity it may take away from my crowd control...I may nix the candy plans.

What do you think of my routine plans thus far?

-Vinny
magic4u02
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You are most welcome. My pleasure. Yeah, I would nix the candy idea as it is bound to cause more problems at the festival then it solves. Also. many festivals and festival vendors get upset if people are giving away food as it cuts on their profits. Best to leave it out.

You want a show that is family-friendly. Everything you do in your show should be able to appeal to ages 5 to 105. This way you attract a larger crowd and you keep them there longer as well. You will want a nice visual opener to get people to stop and to come and watch. I usually do a nice 4 min visual opener to music that really works great for this.

Before the show (about 5 mins before) I do what is called a ballyhoo. It is basically means talking and telling folks about the show and when it will start and getting them excited about it. It was usually done by the side show barker at festivals of old. But it works well to get a crowd there before your show even begins.

Your effects seem to be pretty good. Just add lots of comedy and interaction between you and the audience. Also, keep in mind sight lines. Simply stated, you want to make sure that everyone can see what you are presenting. If your audience is seated and you are standing, you have no problems. However, if you are standing and the audience is as well (on the same level with you), you have to take that into consideration with what you perform and how you perform it.

Hope this helps.

Kyle
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vpatanio
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Great, thanks!!

-Vinny
magic4u02
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Most welcome.
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Hi Vinny,

First show is a festival, huh? Talk about diving in head first! Like Kyle and his red jacket mentioned above, the toughest part will probably be drawing a crowd and making everything run smoothly in a festival situation.

Listen to Kyle, he knows what he is talking about. Do not listen to me. I don't.

You've already made a step in the right direction; planning this far in advance. I would begin to put together routines, and start to do your act anywhere and everywhere you can. This will get you comfortable with the "flow", because in a festival environment it is very important to keep it moving. Not necessarily fast-moving, but smooth. You'll want to get to the point where you are already talking about your next trick as the applause is fading from the last one.

I don't know your style, but I've often used a little ice-breaker at the top of the show, that I learned from a guy named Dave Dee, several years ago.
Explain to the audience that, "If you see something you like; something amazing; something funny... please let me know that you liked it by clapping really loud and going YEAAAAH! Do it!" (they cheer and applaud). You continue... "But if you see something you don't like; you don't think is funny, or is just plain silly, please let me know that you did NOT like it by clapping really loud and going YEAAHHHH! Do it!" (they laugh, and then cheer and applaud). "Are you ready for some magic?!" (they cheer and applaud)... And right out of the gate you've got them on your side, and they understand that this is about fun - not just the tricks. I don't know who actually originated this bit, but it works.

Just before your "grand finale"... ask the audience if they have had fun. That'll get you more applause, and at this point you can let them know you've got one more thing to show 'em. This will get them prepared to clap at the end of the show. Remember to thank them for playing along, and if you can, get a round of applause for the festival committee or the sponsor of your show. People like that. I know that "begging" applause sounds silly, but many people aren't sure exactly how to react to magic, or when to clap, so you've got to hold them by the hand and take charge. It actually makes them more comfortable, at least in my experience.

Really, REALLY learn the technical part of the tricks. Get so comfortable with executing moves that you don't have to think about it, and instead can focus on presentation and interacting with the audience. If you're not confident, people will know it, and they'll feel uncomfortable. Exude total confidence. It'll be the best trick up your sleeve.

Get stage fright? Don't worry about it. Once you get them clapping at the top of the show, it will go away. I used to shake so bad before shows it was visible and embarrassing. So, instead of trying to hide it and play cool, I began to drink coffee before shows, making me even more jumpy. It just became my onstage persona. Don't know if there was a point to that; I just wanted to share.

If you've never used a sound system, begin to practice with one. Maybe not the sound system itself, but a microphone and stand. Personally, I have always used a cordless headset microphone (think Garth Brooks or Madonna), because I began to buy those very early in my career. Unfortunately, many of the sound systems that you will be provided with (if you don't have one of your own) will just have a mic on a stand. Go to the music store and get a mic stand. Rehearse your show with the mic stand, just as if there was a mic in it. You'll figure something out really quickly... You can't walk over to your table to get something while talking, because your voice will be lost. Sometimes the mic stand or cord will get in the way of your sleights you have mastered. Gotta practice not only your tricks, but working with a mic also. You'll want to avoid "dead air" (having to stop in mid-sentence to step away from the mic to go get something) at all costs. Repeated rehearsals and doing lots of shows between then and now will help you figure out prop management and choreography. If at all possible, get yourself a headset cordless mic and receiver, along with adapters, so you can plug into anybody's sound system (I recommend a brand called Gemini; they last forever, and I'm not exactly gentle with my equipment).

And wear sunscreen.

If you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to ask. The Café's here to help. Good luck.

-Nathan
Nathan Allen, The Maniac of Magic
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To buy a prop is nothing.
To write a good routine is something.
To really entertain an audience is everything.
vpatanio
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Wow! Thank you for taking the time to offer your advice. You raised some great points and I really like the opener you suggested...I am not gonna lie, I am already nervous! Smile But hey, I gotta get over it.

I have attended this festival this past Halloween and suspect it will be a closer type of crowd situation (what I am assuming is about 10 feet away) Which is probably fine for the effects I so far have planned.

-Vinny

Posted: Jan 22, 2009 11:50am
I just found out that I will be under a tent-like structure and I have the option of the tent have 3 sides on it...that is really a benefit as far as angles go. I am really excited. And today is my birthday and my wife bought me a Johnson Eisenhower Dollar ex*****d s***l for my set of Ike Dollars. Looks like I can do my coin routines with dollars rather than my Kennedy's now. Now for nine months of rehearsal.

P.S. I really appreciate everyones help and if anyone has any other advice I am all ears

Thanks a million,
Vinny
magic4u02
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Hey Nathan. Thanks for the kind words. Your check is in the mail. lol

Nathan is correct in that the best thing for you to do is what you are doing already. That is making sure you take time to go over everything, plan things out and ensure that everything runs as smoothly as it can run. My biggest advice I can give to anyone working festivals is to "Never Ever Assume Anything!". Do not assume you will have a stage. Do not assume you will be given great parking. Do not assume they will provide a sound system.

In the world of festivals, always get everything figured out in advance simply by asking and going over things with your festival client. If you need parking close by for loading and unloading, be sure to mention it to them and work out an arrangement. If you need a certain clear area for performance to make sure there are no crowd problems, bring that up as well. Then once you have all the details ironed out, make sure to send them over a contract/confirmation agreement. This is very important as it protects you, makes you look that much more of a professional and tends to get festivals to make sure they provide the things you both agreed on.

You will also want to keep in mind that during your festival show, do not get distracted when audiences come and go. They will do that during the show and it is not about you doing anything wrong. It is just the nature of the festival atmosphere. People get hungry, mom's call their kids to go home, etc. Things happen so audiences will tend to come and go a bit and do not allow that to throw you off.

What Nathan describes with the clapping and yelling is actually what I mean when I say doing a Ballyhoo. This is a form of it. It is simply warming up the audience and drawing a crowd in before the main show starts. There are many ways in which to do this but Nathan brings up a fine example.

I also do something that is humorous and funny but it gets people to 1) take part and 2) gets others walking by curious enough to stop. "Ladies and gentlemen gather around cause I want to show you all the most amazing magic trick you will ever have seen. Ok maybe not but it is at least cool and worth checking out (smile). Do this for me. (hold out both arms straight out in front of you.) Perfect. Do you all know what this does? Absolutely nothing. It just makes the show look good. I'm kidding. Start to move your hands ever so slowly together until they meet. I promise this is sooo coool. Ok perfect now apart slowly. Good. now speed it up just a bit. Faster... faster/... faster... awesome. You now all know how to clap. This is what we call applause and it lets me and my helpers in the show know we are doing a good job and you are all having fun. Give yourselves a round of applause for the show is about to begin."

Nathan is absolutely right. Make sure at every show you always thank the festival committee for all they do and have the audience applaud them as well. You will also want to possibly make any announcements for the festival. I do this as it adds value to what I do. I ask the festival to let me know what events are going on at what times and I will announce them at the end of my performance.

I am a deaf entertainer and so I know what Nathan means about being nervous and such. I use it as part f who I am and my onstage persona. I let the audience know I am deaf and I do so in a humorous manner that allows them to be comfortable with it because I am as well.

Nathan is dead on about sound systems. Great advice. You simply MUST be heard at festivals. If they can not hear you, you mine as well not even perform. It is critical that the audience can hear what you are saying and it also allows you to draw more of a crowd as well.

If you can have 3 sides placed on, do it. It cuts down on bad angles as well as wind and elements also. That is most ideal. will they also be providing possible seating under this tent area for people to sit and watch the show?

Hope this helps.

Kyle
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vpatanio
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I think it's standing room only type of situation.

-Vinny
magic4u02
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That is still ok. You just want to be able to know your staging situation and establish your stage and audience area. Do you know if you will be on the ground or if a stage or platform will be provided for you?

Kyle
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vpatanio
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I definitely will be on the ground. I figured I would bring a table similar to what Gazzo described in his Street Cups DVD. But that will, obviously, be just for my final 2 cup routine. I would like to be in front of the table for the rest of the show, rather than hide behind it. I also have the option of "roping" off the front of the tent to prevent people from entering the area, but I'm not sure if that is a good idea, what do you think?

-Vinny
magic4u02
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Yes a table will help you a great deal for sight lines etc. You are also correct in not hiding behind the table. You want focus on you at all times. You can have them come into the tent area pending how large the tent is. If it is only a 10 by 10 quick shade awning, it is better to have them outside of it and use the back for storage and for a chair and resting between performances.

however, if the tent is larger, then you can have them come in and just rope off the area as a stage. Like maybe a 10 foot distance from you and the audience to give you room to perform in without people being on top of you. This works pretty well.

Kyle
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vpatanio
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It is exactly a quick shade awning type tent, with 3 walls.

-Vinny
magic4u02
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Ok then what I would do is not have them inside. Have the awning be your stage and backstage (resting area). I have done this in the past and it works well. It gives the front area room for your table and performance and the back area for storage and for resting between shows. The 3 walls will give you more shade and protect from elements.

Just make sure that the tent is positioned inj an area that you can draw a crowd without blocking vendors or causing traffic flow problems. You can go over this with the festival to figure out what works best for you. Sounds good though.

Do you use music in your show?

Kyle
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vpatanio
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I'm not planning on using music.

-Vinny
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