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Old 05-30-12, 03:47 PM   #21
Evan Young
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In a busy noisy space you need to be big and flashy and things need to happen soon and often. In a quiet slow space you need slow down, be subtle, meet them at their level. There is no magic recipe.

I find that on friday nights I have to cut all my most favorite crowd gathering lines because they are too subtle and the people who have already stopped get impatient, but on a thursday that stuff gets huge laughs and plays as well as anything.

Learn all the tricks/tactics/techniques, practice them all, learn when they work best, and have them in your back pocket for when you need them.

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Old 06-05-12, 02:33 AM   #22
Mr.Taxi Trix
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From the Library

You communicate intelligent forethought and expectation by illustrating your performing space. A rope on the ground indicating your "stage" is instructive. Semicircle is popular. Have fun with any kids who may cross it. Loop it gently around a foot, hang yourself with the end of it when a kid "wins." Later, when they are well lined up on the rope, it can be a useful symbol to remove and coil it, to mark the show's beginning, and establish intimacy and vulnerability. Chalk can also work, or sprayed water in summer, on bright hot days, can be fun.

A careful laying out of props is the simplest way to begin a street show. Do it as if it makes a serious difference where everything goes. Don't dismiss it. Read Pat Campbell's "Passing the Hat": as she says, this is sometimes performed with all the intricacy of a Japanese tea ceremony. Your level of respect for the props can be an invitation to people. It's a pull. Back away from set props, look at them from audience perspective, and then change a little something. You can communicate in your placement, and in making small changes, that there are things you know which they do not, that you prefer the set a certain way, and - oh hell it just works. (And you can trade it all for the mystery of the unopened box later, but these are the basics.)

I'm guessing you have skills. Use volunteers; you know that, right? Respect them, and have something genuinely useful and contributing for them to do. It's more than ok to have your show take a little detour into unexpected territory opened up by your volunteers. Don't be a script queen. How do you choose who you pick? Simple.

For adults, there is only one barometer. No matter what, get someone who is smiling. Stay awake and find a grinner before volunteer time. Get them up. One easy way is to single them out from nowhere. Mention how you need someone, anyone, anyone young, with long sleeves, etc. until only the person you want fits. Kids are far easier. Kids will trip over themselves to come up if you do one cool thing and then simply ask. Stay away from the ones with horns.

(Advancedů find 3-7 smiling people in the first minutes of the show, and choose from among them the one most comfortable returning your welcoming expression when you meet their eyes. Rob Torres gave me that one.)

Make believe people want you to go over well with them. It's a premise you do well to engage. (Can you "engage" a premise? I think I'm married to this one.) Be available to feedback from the crowd. Reacting to what is happening during the show, is lots of the show. We all trot out our bits, but the good ones listen. Listen: there is a private wordless conversation between you and them. It is formed of commentary on the fact that you are in front of them now. An eyebrow lifted at an intruding toddler beats three of a toss every day. If you communicate to them that they are impacting you, and that that is itself fun, they are glued.

The "magnet" portion: getting them to come to you, is a toughie. Cultivate intrigue in dress and movement. Project power and certainty, not arrogance but be clear that you are capable. Speak loudly, and say things that would make you stop in the street and watch someone. If you are not "hawking" your show, start with that. Say good things about what is to come. Everything works. Questions and commands work. Want to nail 'em to you? Get sidetracked into them, as in:"Hey get over here, I'm gonna stand on my head and HEY that tie with that jacket REALLY? Does your wife know you're wearing that? What a risk taker!"

It is its own dance. Do it 3-5 times before you decide if you like it. Watch your ego, it aint easy at first. My first show I made 25 cents. Invent that your body is the perfect expression of sensuality and balance on the planet. Cultivate gratitude. Be all of the space, encompass the show. Never, never apologize unless you hurt someone or you do it as a bit. Make believe the show is an event where you get to be three times the person you know yourself to be.

Keep asking for ideas, people like to seem wise. Ask your crowd for feedback: really. Love them. They'll get it.
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Old 06-05-12, 04:14 AM   #23
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Wow, Mr. Taxi Trix, that is a whole lot of good advice. Thanks for bringing it from the Library to this thread for our attention.
I'm finding that the more I'm understanding/performing Street Magic the more I have yet to deal with. It's like I'm dealing with a growing circumference/edge of a circle.

A few years back when I started out performing in the public I felt scared to even stand and set up where I wanted to perform; I was very self-conscious.
Now when I arrive at my pitch I think, "Here I am, this is my place.I own my pitch while I'm here." Where-ever I am, I am my show.
MagiCol. The presentation makes the magic.
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Old 06-05-12, 04:07 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by MagiCol View Post
A few years back when I started out performing in the public I felt scared to even stand and set up where I wanted to perform; I was very self-conscious.
That's a big thrill, to be able to go from self-conscious to owning the performance. I feel that way with my button accordion. In the beginning I played really out of the way places where nobody was because I felt so self-conscious. I was invited to play a few paying gigs, including a restaurant, but I turned them down because I was scared out of my mind.

Today I'll play anywhere, and I also volunteer my playing if it will enhance someone else's show or charity event.
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