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thomasR
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“there are other, let's call them "in between" options that no one has mentioned here. It is not just solo road work/tour or having a full crew that travels and operates with you. There is such a thing as traveling and functioning solo, yet picking up local onsite contractors in each town on your route. It can be an alternative to costly road costs eliminating food, lodging, per diem, and travel costs for a crew or team. “

Yes Mindoro! If you are self-promoting the shows, usually you have to pay for certain staff memebers at a theatre if you need them or not. If you have a proper cue sheet written up you can use the house guys instead of bringing your own staff. You just have to plan your show with that in mind.
TomBoleware
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Quote:
On Jun 11, 2019, thomasR wrote:
While I made a joke about sound and light guys not getting overtime, I didn’t mean to imply that I thought I deserved it either.
On a typical day, if I divide the number of hours I work into my day rate I’m getting paid a very very high hourly rate. Of course my day rate takes into account that I am spending the entire day in a random city and I will be sleeping on a tour bus or hotel and not my home. But yeah regardless of you being right or wrong, I’m not gonna ask for overtime and wreck a good deal!



I didn’t take it that you were complaining, I was just throwing out some more thoughts on the subject. Many employees are led to believe that they are independent contractors when in fact they are not.

I just wanted to paint a picture for those that may be taken advantage of. It only takes one phone call to get the problem fixed.

Main thing is you are satisfied.

Now don’t work to hard.Smile

Tom
Do What Others Do And You Will Become Average

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Dannydoyle
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Yep it only takes a phone call to completely lose everything you are working for.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On Jun 11, 2019, thomasR wrote:
Always great to hear from you Ray. Up in 6 hours? I’ll keep my pre-rigged GT truss that rolls on and off the semi thank you! Ha.
But then again you may be working on aerials / circus arts which is a lot more fun than what I currently do!


lol... we HAD pre-rigged truss! 2 - 5 stick lengths for first and second electrics (40 VL 3000's). 18 motors, 1 aerial truss, 1 US scenic truss, 1 DS Traveller truss, 1 Projector Truss, a LOT of scenic (30' rolling staircases, US Scenic piece w/integrated FP Screen) 16 K Projector, plus a lot of ground lights, hazers, low level foggers, effects, inflatables etc. We got it DOWN to 6 hours after a lot of work. The first few dates we just stopped building when the house opened.

Quote:
All this should make us think.... if we are designing a show that we want to do a lot, either touring or resident show, it would make sense to minimize cast and crew costs while still maximizing production value. Having illusions that you can perform solo without a trained assistant for example, having Audio / lighting automated or simplified to reduce or eliminate tech crew.... hey perhaps you can block your show to the point that you don’t need stage hands! A lot is possible


Absolutely! When I was touring with my illusion show, I designed everything possible with pin hinges and other connections that didn't require any tools. The cast broke down all the illusions during the show (The road cases were left open behind the cyc). All the hanging scenic was soft goods that went into dedicated hampers. By the end of Intermission, Act 1 was on the dock. Our best out time was 32 minutes from the time the curtain came down until the truck door closed. Then again, the show was designed with that in mind. Everything we needed the local crew for utilized standardized methods known to any stagehand that we could explain and have them execute. ("Hamper 1 on Pipe 3, Hamper 2 on Pipe 7", etc.) We didn't have to carry basic lighting which helped a LOT. Relying on follow spot cues for most of the special coverage saved hours of time. We did have some US effects lights and toys but nothing that took too long for the house crew to pack without instructions. As you said, it's all about clever design with the market in mind!
Ray Pierce
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Mindpro
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I agree as these are some great points. Many performers don't create their show or think of their performance elements (tricks, effects, scenes, etc.) with the setup and breakdown in mind. These logistics can result in many differences in getting rebooked, expenses in crew or staff, transport, and many other factors. This is as important as any component in the show for any mobile or traveling show - anything less than a permanently set venue.
Kevin Ridgeway
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Quote:
On Jun 11, 2019, Mindpro wrote:
I agree as these are some great points. Many performers don't create their show or think of their performance elements (tricks, effects, scenes, etc.) with the setup and breakdown in mind. These logistics can result in many differences in getting rebooked, expenses in crew or staff, transport, and many other factors. This is as important as any component in the show for any mobile or traveling show - anything less than a permanently set venue.



So correct... almost no illusion builder out there designs illusions and the needed road cases with ‘truck pack’ in mind. Now I guarantee there are magicians in here currently googling truck pack....lol. I’ll save you the effort. In the real world of production most trucks are 90” wide. And every single road case is a multiple thereof- 22.5”, 30”, 45” or 60". This makes for the best use of truck space as well as the least amount of strapping or securing cases.
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Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On Jun 11, 2019, Kevin Ridgeway wrote:
So correct... almost no illusion builder out there designs illusions and the needed road cases with ‘truck pack’ in mind.


Hey Kevin! lol... you're giving away the real dirt here! Yes, most touring cases are built to be a modular part of a truck load, even for stacking as well. The pieces that are too large for cases get strapped to rolling carts that are again designed to roll onto the truck in order and fill the space evenly. Earlier we were talking about "pre rigged truss" which are lengths of truss with the lights prehung on them. They have wheels attached and fit perfectly in a standard truck. As they are rolled off, they are unstacked, then flown a foot off the ground, the legs are taken off, the cable looms are secured in place, lights checked and they're ready to go.

If you want to see a model of efficiency, find a video of any touring concert being unloaded and set up. The trucks are docked in a specific order and tipped sequentially so everything goes up as elegantly as possible. Usually the get motors up first, then start rigging the truss, lighting, video and sound while the stage is being built up at the same time on the opposite side of the arena. Once the truss is flown, the stage is rolled into place under it.

This is one example and although you can't see a lot of detail, the process is evident. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVKtFntxjoc

Again, most acts won't need this level of production but it's important to study the efficiency of the process to design your act/show to waste as little time as possible. It's yet another mark of a true professional.

Kevin's rig is a perfect example! It's a very large set up by most standards but he has it down to the most elegant way to set up and strike with the least number of people.
Ray Pierce
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Mindpro
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While this is true for road and touring acts, much of this also applies to local performing acts - how it packs, sets-up, breaksdown, loads, transports, paying assistants and crew, production, and so on. The contents of this thread are not only for road workers, but almost everything here can easily apply to local workers as well - including the initial decisions, choices, and dilemmas as it pertains to our businesses. Great discussions.
Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On Jun 12, 2019, Mindpro wrote:
While this is true for road and touring acts, much of this also applies to local performing acts - how it packs, sets-up, breaksdown, loads, transports, paying assistants and crew, production, and so on. The contents of this thread are not only for road workers, but almost everything here can easily apply to local workers as well - including the initial decisions, choices, and dilemmas as it pertains to our businesses. Great discussions.


This is SO true. I always designed specific things for different markets as it always seemed to make sense to let the needs of each market dictate the material. A wonderful example that just came to mind was one of the guys that we worked with at Hollywood Magic was designing a new act with some very clever ideas. It used a lot of smaller material so it couldn't really work big rooms but was great for smaller venues like the Castle, Comedy Clubs, etc. The problem was that those clubs had a very specific budget and he had designed an act with a huge amount of consumables making his per show cost beyond what he could ever recoup with the budget of those venues. Larger rooms obviously had larger budgets which could have supported the act better but the scale of the act made working those rooms impractical. He had created a beautiful act without a market to play in! To be fair, there are some European markets that could still support a higher end small act (i.e. The Crazy Horse) but he couldn't survive long enough to polish the act to get to that point. I have always encouraged people to find an under served market and let the needs of the market define the act. There are many exceptions but if you want to work, this just makes sense to me.
Ray Pierce
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lunatik
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Definitely not in my arena, but I really like hearing all of the fine intricacies of what needs to be considered and planned for to increase the likelihood of one's ability to scale their business if they so desire.
"Don't let your Dreams become Fantasies"
Christian & Katalina
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As to the original Post of this thread:

When I was quite young a old performer told me,"To get work, you gotta be working." Over the years I have noted that the more I work the more work comes to me. So, yes there is a connection to working more means more money and success. There was an interview many years ago with Jerry Seinfeld post Seinfeld TV show. He hadn't worked in a couple of years and he was ready to get going again. He suddenly found out that nobody wanted to book him. A major TV star was suddenly old news. It took him a year or more to get back into the mind of the bookers. Of course, once he got back into it things went just fine, but the point was that even a major star can fall off the radar if they aren't working.

As to getting more $$$ per show is tricky thing. It has a great deal to do with what market you are in and where you are located in the country. A $2000 dollar check spends much different in Los Angeles than it does in Columbus Ohio. Many markets such as the College market have a ceiling. No matter how famous you are, you're not going to make $10,000 for a standard college show. (it can happen for special occasions but it is not standard by any means) It is usually easier to work more shows for good money than work less shows for amazing money.

I would also say that nothing beats a good touring route. There is tons of money to be made touring; however, it is very hard on the body. My wife and I toured for a decade and did very well. We now have a residency show at the Hilton Hotel. We have had it for 10 years. So, we have a very unique viewpoint. Which is better? Well, it depends on the person. I could answer but that answer only applies to me. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Touring
The great thing about touring, (we had an agent) was all we had to do was get on the plane/van and go do a show. There were months where we were doing a show almost every day in a different city. As long as you can deliver a strong show and charm the people who hired you, you will keep working. It makes it very easy for your agent. You show up, delight your booker, be easy to work with, deliver a kick-ass show, thank everyone, and off to the next show. Simple and profitable. Downside: constant travel, different hotel every night, hard on your health, you're never home.

Residency Show
Its all on you. You must make everything happen from the ground up. Prepare to become a marketing expert, salesman, theater manager, you must understand internet marketing, you will learn about HTML, CSS, SEO, etc, You have to handle all the problems, Deal with nights where you have 10 people in the audience, understand local laws about theater shows, you will be working 18 hours a day in the beginning. Sound like fun? The upside is: Its your show and you can do whatever you want. People are paying to come to your show which makes for some great audiences that you will never see in a corporate setting, you control your destiny, you go home every night, its a blast.

When people ask me which is better, I tell them you pick your own poison. There is no such thing as the perfect setup or market. What I would tell you is that I would love to be working for lots of money, but when push comes to shove, I'd rather be working for less money than not working at all.
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Dannydoyle
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The thing that is true of EACH situation is it takes a LONG time with a great track record prior to being able to do EITHER option. It is not entry level positions in either case. This is the point that most miss. I bet it was a long time before you were booked every night on a tour. (I am not digging at you here, just saying that not all act are created equal. Yours obviously has staying power!)

This is the step that everyone seems to want to skip. The attitude of "I know the tricks, I must be as good" just permeates the magic community because this is what everyone is sold. They then believe it and it creates false expectations.

Thanks for the perspective!
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Christian & Katalina
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Danny, Yes, I should be clear, none of this is possible if you haven't paid your dues. And by dues, I mean performed many, many, many shows. And . . . failing many times.
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The Annemann Award for Menatalism 2016
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Dannydoyle
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Oh the failing. I thought I was the only one!
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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So great to hear from Christian & Katalina. What is funny is when this thread first started they were who I immediately thought of relating to this topic as I remember them sharing here or on some forum or perhaps in a magazine feature when they were touring and were customizing their own big van (maybe a Sprinter or something?) to meet their needs personally and professionally for life as full-time entertainers on the road. It was very interesting.

Then, hearing about their "new venture" in Indy at the Hilton and seeing their shift to establishing their own show more locally and everything that entailed - finding the right venue, crafting the right deal, show time, ticket prices, marketing, promotion, and so on. Then, of course, to try to balance that with still being able to accept some decent paying corporate/private bookings strategically at the same time (the one time I was nearby and was hoping to stop in and surprise them they were dark, which I later found out was to do some corporate or private work.) So following their journey (as much as they've been willing to share) has been going on for maybe, what 15 years or so? So it is nice to hear from them in this thread, as I always enjoy when they can still pop in to Tricky Business.

The reason I think their story is so interesting is because it seems to stand for many young, current or experienced performers that have ongoing thoughts in their minds of "what if..." pertaining to their performing business, business model, business plan, strategy, approach, etc.

They have the first base covered pretty well which is having a professional performance polished and ready to go, so much of their efforts and decisions then lied in the business aspects of their "what if..."

They bring up some very interesting points in these posts about market ceilings which is something any professional must consider, as it can easily be different in each performance market as well as geographical market. Then their is also the learnign curve. Members here get a little pi**y when I talk about there being different levels of performers and that we must be completely honest with ourselves about where we are and what to be. Once this is done you can create a plan to attain your next level. Going from a part-time local performer, to a touring road performer has must less to do with your performance (you still better be ready, good, polished, and professional) and so much more to do with the business behind your performance. It is also much more than just deciding I want to work the road, it is getting the education you need, to gain the experience you seek, to get to the point you have decided to focus on.

Then, later the same for making their other decision to try to establish your own residency venue. It is truly amazing and C&K should be greatly applauded that they are still at the same venue they started at 10 years ago! That says a lot! Most would have a couple of false starts or improper-fit venues (venue support is one of those hidden factors that can affect your whole plan or operation) that cause you to have to go through several venues to find the right match before becoming established.

So it is great anytime they are willing to speak on this topic. Most here know I have been working on revising some of my past courses on the entertainment business. I was getting many requests to include information on 2/4 walling. In working on the addition of that chapter, I soon discovered this should be its own project, and decided to work on it incrementally as I could. I have interviewed dozens of Vegas headliners, and other regional performers, celebrities, and producers nationwide and even some outside the U.S. It has been difficult trying to do this while still working the road and touring myself 40+ weeks a year, but the one thing I always wanted to do was interview and include C&K and hope they share their story in more details for just this reason.

It's not always needing to hear what they did, but more so what they learned, their setbacks, mistakes, uninformed decisions, and failures (I've always been interested in these equally as much and what they learned and did to overcome these) along the way, and so much more.

Great hearing from you guys and thanks for dropping in on this post.
thomasR
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Yes thanks so much C&K!!! Lots of great thoughts in your post, and in mindpros reply.

In the magicians podcast, the interview with Chris Kenner he mentions how it’s “just us” (the Copperfield team) as far as promoting the show at the MGM and while he doesn’t go into details, he mentions the pressure in filling the seats.

Very interesting insight touring vs. residence show from C&K. Lots to think about.
Ray Pierce
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Wow, great perspectives from C&K! This is such a great example of having a perfect balance of business and performance.

Quote:
On Jun 25, 2019, Dannydoyle wrote:
It is not entry level positions in either case. This is the point that most miss.


Danny, you nailed it yet again! Such an important concept. It seems that many try and copy the trappings of what they see other successful performers do without understanding why they do it. As I've said many times about producing shows... Just because you put eggs, flour, sugar, milk and butter in the oven, it doesn't mean a cake is going to come out!
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Dannydoyle
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Yea that is what has frustrated me SO much about this section is it became a get rich quick scheme almost. NOBODY seems to fail but me! Then you get the bs feel good nonsense from the success peddlers like "oh as long as you learn something you didn't fail". How stupid. Of course you did!

Then the ridiculous "look at me mom" stuff and the idiotic assumption that all acts are created equal. Oh lord is THAT a bad thing to tell people who want to learn to do this.

It takes more than feel good slogans and armchair quarterback ideas to actually make a go at performing. This is why I have said for years the success peddlers are just trying to sell dreams.

It takes a LONG time to even develop the act into something anyone wants to watch on tour or as a residence. When I sat my first show down in Key Largo a million years ago if I knew then what I knew now I would not have done it. I probably was not ready. I didn't have enough mileage on the show. (I had been in comedy clubs as a headliner with the show for almost a decade, and STILL wasn't ready to sit it down.) It was a different audience, and just a different feel. But I KNEW! I knew I could do it and I was absolutely wrong.

This is the frustrating part about "opinions". Yea everyone has one. But an opinion is absolutely the lowest form of human knowledge. You don't need any credentials to have one. Heck I have a LOT of opinions about medical stuff and kid shows. I know just as much about each of them and my opinion means NOTHING. When you have been doing nothing but farting into your couch cushion for the past 30 years and you never were a performer in the first place the "opinion" is just not valid. You can't extrapolate for experience. Experience is a terrible teacher. It gives the tests first and then the lessons.

I know young guys HATE to hear it but experience actually matters. It bites. The only way to have it is to have it. No way around it! But when the younger guys are given flat out wrong information about what this takes it does nothing to help them. When they are told how easy it is by the guru types it hurts them. It is almost unfair. They are preyed upon and it is sad.

There is a shorter way, but there are no short cuts. You have got to be out there DOING IT. There is just no substitute for this.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Mindpro
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Quote:
On Jun 26, 2019, Dannydoyle wrote:
But an opinion is absolutely the lowest form of human knowledge. You don't need any credentials to have one.

I know young guys HATE to hear it but experience actually matters. It bites. The only way to have it is to have it. No way around it! But when the younger guys are given flat out wrong information about what this takes it does nothing to help them. When they are told how easy it is by the guru types it hurts them. They are preyed upon and it is sad.

There is a shorter way, but there are no short cuts. You have got to be out there DOING IT. There is just no substitute for this.




Man, such a great thread and topic. Just sit back and look who it has brought out - C&K, Kevin and Kristen, Ray Pierce, CharlieCheckers, etc. This thread shows how significant a forum TB is here on the Café. I always tell people that many legitimately working professionals are still here regularly but they simply do not participate until it is a real discussion based on facts and experience, where opinion is cast aside and those with actual knowledge and experience can feel free to participate without derailments, uninformed opinions, and agendas by the trolls or those with a dislike for other's experience and success, and can share openly and feel their efforts are appreciated. These are the discussions I have daily in my life and so many others could benefit from.

Recently several of the main trolls and instigators here have been removed and it is great to see this place getting back to what it can be and should be including threads like this.

In reference to what Danny said above about "opinions" and that you don't need any credentials or experience to have one, unfortunately, "magic" is the same way. Any kid can get a deck of magic cards or get a magic set and shazam! they are "a magician," and so starts the belief of being a performer. It is NOT what they want to hear, as Danny said, but it IS what they NEED to hear. Unfortunately, those that say it are often the heavy or bad guy.

Opinions are great on hypothetical or general interest questions - "Do you think I should wear a top hat and tails or a wild multi-colored vest?" While it is a poor or perhaps partial question in the first place, the real information would be in the followup question - "And why?" Why is where knowledge, facts, and experience and comes into play. So much on the Café never gets to anyone asking "the whys?"

It's why when people start asking about "whys" WITH A GENUINE INTEREST that things can begin to move into reality and an informative discussion that can allow one to find their answer and make their own choice based on such knowledge and factual information. This is where learning happens and growth and progress occur.

I agree the worst things are 1.) when guys are given opinion presented as fact, 2.) when they are given incorrect or wrong information, and 3.) when they are receiving information from someone NOT based on actual knowledge and experience.

Let's face it, those of us that have been around for a few decades or more, performing successfully today has changed and is much different. As I discuss with my students just a few decades ago it went like this...complete high school, the fork in the road was continued education or go right to work in the fields, factories, military or entry-level at a company (mail room, maintenance, etc.), find the girl/guy of your dreams and get married, buy a house in town or the suburbs, and hope that the company you worked for and were dedicated to would take care of you for life until retirement, that the girl/guy would produce your great family, and each month your house became one month close to being paid off. Oh, and that annual road trip vacation was in there too. Through hard work and dedication, promotions, advancements, this held you until retirement, grandkids, and the hopes of a healthy life. This was real life and the American way for the majority.

Performing was the same way. You put your act or show together, you spread word out in your local area and spent a few dollars on general advertisements, and your ad on the Yellow Pages, and you could pound out enough gig bookings to keep you satisfied whether you were part-time or full. You did parties, festivals, scouting events, schools, and basically anywhere looking for some type of entertainment. The term often used was "entertainment for all occasions." I have an original Beach Bys business card that says "Hawthorne, California - music for all occasions, lol.

Nowadays that has changed too. Try to do that now and you will perform maybe a handful of times a year. To do anything more than this you need to approach your performing as a business and with all related to business. it is why TB and the experience of others so willing to be shared can make this the of the best forums here for getting actual information, insight, and knowledge, based on facts and real work experience, from those that have done what you are hoping to do, willing to help you in achieving your goals. That is amazing. You won't find that in Google searches or youtube videos. They would provide wise insight on your expect topic and the related "whys" or more important "why nots."

This was not available back when many of us began doing this and makes it even more valuable today.

Experience can't be faked, and there is no substitute for knowledge and experience.
TomBoleware
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I’ve never liked the fail your way to success plan.Smile

I agree that nothing takes the place of experience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from others experiences. There are plenty of success recipes out there to follow.
Those who keep doing the same mistakes again and again are stupid. There is a better way to pay your dues. If you want to learn faster, then learn from others mistakes.
If you want to learn from your own mistakes you can do it but it will take lots of time from your life. I see many young people doing well that don’t have years and years
of direct experience; they got there by avoiding mistakes, not making them. Learning to avoid mistakes will take you much further than experiencing them.

Tom
Do What Others Do And You Will Become Average

The Daycare Magician Book
www.amazekids.com/magic-downloads/childrens-magic-ebooks/the-daycare-magician/

Tom Boleware
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