What About Outdoor Shows?

On Facebook I have asked for suggestions about doing outdoor shows. Many were kind to respond. Here is my synthesis of ideas shared.

  1. Do not forget there is the potential for rain. Therefore, take things that can be set up and packed up quickly.
  2. Always have an extra shirt on hand. Rain and/or humidity can soak you quickly. To remain fresh when dealing with the public, have something you can change into (or out of). Kevin Heller suggested getting shirts that have a “wicking” property that takes moisture away from the body. He says he always travels with many such shirts. (Typically this is a property found in nice athletic type t-shirts and golf shirts.)
  3. Wind is a problem. Almost everyone advised against doing silk tricks outdoors. Wind blows them around so pictures cannot be seen and some times even blows them away. I agree. I do use the Mis-Made Flag with a Change Bag in outdoor shows. However, even though I am known for silk magic, it is about the only silk trick I do in such situations.
  4. Do your best to offer a “suitcase” type show. This means easy setup. It also means you do not put much on the stage ahead of time. Therefore, if a storm comes up suddenly, you can just close the case and move for cover. This is another idea with which I agree. Even though I have never bought into the “pack small play big” concept, for outdoor situations I do think it is the way to go.
  5. Pay attention to the path of the sun. Do not set up for the show in a place that will soon have the sun beating down on you or in your eyes. You also do not want it in the eyes of the spectators. Plan your viewing positions and angles!
  6. Remember that, in spite of the hassle outdoor shows may bring, they are worth it. There is good money in doing programs outdoors and shows for fairs and festivals can be especially lucrative.
  7. When outdoors, rope tricks are better than silk tricks. Large laminated card tricks also go over well. A botania is a good choice. Wind should not be a problem for it.
  8. Sponge balls are not wind-friendly. Therefore they are another item that rarely is good for outdoor work (unless working out of your pockets in a walk- around situation).
  9. Tricks with blocks, like the Die Box or ABC blocks are good. The block is not affected by wind. The size of the prop makes the trick easily visible…and it is a great effect!
  10. D’Lites are not good in daylight. They do not show up well
  11. Mark Trip said the Water Torture Cell is a good trick for outdoor shows. He was not kidding. It is not bothered by wind or rain. It attracts attention. It is an impressive illusion and great for publicity,
  12. The Sub Trunk and Sword Basket are good choices for outdoor shows. They are fairly rugged props. A person does not have to be hidden inside of them (heat becomes a problem when outdoors in a tight spot…especially if the sun is beating down on the illusion).
  13. The Linking Rings is another great choice for shows outside. Wind and rain are no problem for it.
  14. A Straight-Jacket escape is good for outdoor shows. Audiences like Straight-Jacket routines. The trick is easy to carry with you. It requires no backstage setup or preparation.
  15. John Alexander shared that wind can even take down a PA speaker. When outdoors, do not put the speakers from your sound system on high stands. (When working on a stage, we put them directly on the stage floor. If there is not stage, we put them on a packing crate.)
  16. Doves are not recommended for outdoor programs. If they try to fly they may get away, or be injured.
  17. Rabbits are fine for outdoor programs. Rabbit productions tend to be stable and unaffected by weather. The one concern is to not keep the animal in a confined space where it will get to hot. Keep it out of the sun and do not leave it in a closed vehicle. Personally, I recommend the Rainbow House trick as a rabbit production to use in outdoor shows.
  18. The Hippity Hop Rabbits trick can be blown over by wind. A “sucker” type effect using big cards, such as the Vanishing Elephant, is better because it does not need to stand on its own.
  19. The Miser’s Dream is good for outdoor shows. It is another effect with strong appeal to the public. Weather is not a problem for it and, with the right routine, setup is no problem either.
  20. The Giant Three Card Monte trick is another good choice for outdoors. This is true as long as you have someone to hold the cards (an assistant). The big plastic cards are easily visible and, since all you have to do is turn them from one end to another to make the change, there is basically no setup involved.
  21. Most important advice for outdoor shows? Plan for the worst. Do not assume the weather will be fine. Plan so you can do a great show even if conditions are miserable. With this kind of thinking, you have a great show ready for whatever you face.




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