Your First show. A quick(ish) Guide.

Struggling with an effect? Any tips (without giving too much away!) you'd like to share?

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Your First show. A quick(ish) Guide.

Postby Grumpy Panda » May 19th, '15, 18:25

Saturday night (9th) rolled round and it was finally the night of my first stage show. Overall it taught me a hell of a lot so with that in mind I thought it would be helpful to pass it onto you.
First a little background. I am a mentalist and almost exclusively working close up though will sometimes have a pop at an open mic night so a full length show was a bit out of my comfort zone. The show went incredibly well and I did learn so much. So without further ado here goes.

First thing when preparing a show here are a few thing to keep in mind:
1) Get a crew you can trust. Pays off more than you could believe.
2) Be prepared to make a loss. This one is a sad fact of starting a stage show especially you're first. (We basically just about broke even after all the pay ect). You might make a profit but don't expect it.
3) Have fun it's your show! This is the most important point out of anything I'm going to say and also the most difficult to always keep in sight but it is important.

Section 1 writing:
Try to have a theme it keeps the show together and makes it feel coherent. And/or have some running gags or tricks that you can keep coming back to this again helps make everything stick together as one running show not just bits put together. Also get a good director, someone who is not afraid to criticize you and make you do things and gain and again until it is right. A good director can also be a great person to bounce ideas around with and that's sometimes when some really great things can happen. Try to get a director that has experience with stage as they can really help to sort out what will and won't work well for the audience. One thing I found was make sure you have something in your show you love to see or do, your enthusiasm can really carry it better than even the most exceptional effect (I did glass eating since I always complain you never get to see it anymore and it was great to perform). Once you have an outline now it is time to put in the meat of the show, the effects! This is the time to figure out all those stage effects you have come across in book and dvds that you have never been able to do in close up. The difficult part is cutting them down so the show isn't 8 hours long.

Section 2 booking a theater:
This is a tricky one. If you can fund the cost of the rental then do that. Otherwise you are more likely looking at a box office split. So find somewhere smallish and shoot them an email. Again would say more but it's a tricky one. Suppose best advice just be courteous and polite don't forget to sell yourself. And always make sure to have a good nose around the place before you set your heart on it (Like house viewing). Once you have a date booked do not over look promotion (Have a look at some articles on the net ect for ideas).

Section 3 Rehearsal:
Do more than you think you need to. By the time the show comes round everything should be almost automatic. It is now the time to fix any problems with your original writing. No matter how good you think it is there is probably something that seems out of place or just straight up won't work. Once it is fixed try again. Get some friends to be test audience members and even do some open mic nights to test any material you feel iffy about. Again the more time you spend in this phase the better and more confident you will feel about the show.

Section 4 show day:
Get to the venue nice and early to set up everything. Then do a tech run make sure the slights sounds and anything else are all perfect (If you are doing mentalism don't forget about the house lights if you need to see the audience to read body language ect.). Do a couple rehearsals and when everything is sorted now take some time to relax.

Section 5 The Show:
It's time to go on stage now. First breathe it sounds silly but it really helps the nerves. Second take a couple steps back from the edge of the wings so when you walk out you have a bit of a running start making things appear more smooth. While on stage remember by now everything should be almost automatic so sit back and let all that rehearsal memory take over. The only really unpredictable thing as always are your spectators especially any volunteers on stage. Don't be afraid to go with them a little bit because sometimes a bit of luck and just the right volunteer can make a show. Just trust your material and keep going even if something seems to be going wrong spot the mistake and cover as best you can. Remember the audience doesn't know exactly what to expect so there is some wiggle room to cover for mistakes. Over all else have fun this is what you have been waiting for and if you are enjoying it, it will show.

Some final thoughts:
Prepare for the worst hope for the best.

Trust in your material.

Things need to be a little bit bigger than you think.

For mentalists, its ok to have a miss or two it breeds credibility.

With a good crew they can cover when you screw up with some quick thinking saving your backside.

So thats it one final note and without trying to sound like a salesman if you perform mentalism get "Naked Mentalism" by Jon Thompson I can't recommend it enough. It started as the basis for my favourite effect I have ever performed and the crowd was left mesmerized. Well I hope this helps a few people. :D
*edit: Also have some pictures from the show I may link to if there is interest.

Grumpy Panda
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Re: Your First show. A quick(ish) Guide.

Postby MiKo » May 19th, '15, 19:11

Thanks for the great post. I am definitely not at this stage (pun not intended), but it was a great read. Also: it would be interesting to have a few tips on *how* to get a good crew, and especially a good director.

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Re: Your First show. A quick(ish) Guide.

Postby Grumpy Panda » May 19th, '15, 19:52

Glad you enjoyed it :) will pop up an edit tomorrow with some info on crew.

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Re: Your First show. A quick(ish) Guide.

Postby Mandrake » May 19th, '15, 20:09

A superb post, thank you - this is now a sticky.

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Re: Your First show. A quick(ish) Guide.

Postby Lady of Mystery » May 19th, '15, 21:19

A brilliant post, thanks :D

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