by LUNA SHIMADA
Times have changed and so have the roles and expectations of the artist/booker relationship. There was a time when all you had to do was create a kick ass 10-15 minute act and you were set for life. This was your bread and butter act, the act that would take you places, the act that you built your reputation on and no one messed with it, no one! You were a tight, professional complete package. You were the great …[ insert your name here] But then the rules changed and nobody told you. You had to find out on your own, the hard way. Now all of sudden your out of your comfort zone, you’re panicked, you’re angry, “How dare they ask ME , the great [ insert your ego’s pet name here] to change, to take this out of my act, etc, Don’t they know my act is written in stone and cannot work without these components? I won’t be as great if I have to change THAT! “
Has this ever happened to you ? Because if it hasn’t , it probably will. It has happened to me on a number of occasions and the first time someone booked me for a very important show and told me 1 hour before the show that I couldn’t use my fire on stage, I was totally panicked. OH NO, now what? You know that feeling? Knots in the stomach and so on. Well, being unprepared for the unexpected is a horrible feeling indeed so I have learned one of the most important instincts you can develop. Adaptability.
There are several things that have to happen within your psyche in order for this to work to your benefit. You have to get your ego and your emotions under control and quickly develop a sense of detachment to your material otherwise it’s gonna be Diva time and your probably gonna do, say or act in a manner you will later regret and will not be beneficial to you or anyone else concerned OR that energy will just fold in on you and you’ll have a bad show. So yes, skip the obsessive focus on the problem and move straight to the solution and do what needs to be done. You can always pacify your wounded ego later or simply see the lesson in it and be proud that you stepped up and met your challenge head on with flying colors! Now you are prepared for that scenario should it ever come up again.
I was once on a show at a magic convention where I was sharing the bill with another magician who felt it necessary to request from the producer that I take my opening Mask out of my act because he wore one on stage too and saw it as taking the edge off his act. The image I open with, which was important to me artistically and personally, not to mention that my father SHIMADA was the first to employ theatrical masks in a magic act and my ego felt a certain entitlement. Then there was the whole restructure of my choreography and the Segway effects, removing that mask created a whole chain reaction of effects that required a total restructure of the first 2 minutes of my act. Since it was very clear that the bookers valued their illusionist more than me and I was given a take it or leave it ultimatum, I choked it down and moved right onto the solution, in spite of the fact that I felt dis respected, I knew something good could come from it and chose to use it as a challenge to overcome. The end result was awesome, I got a standing ovation and they even chanted my name at the end of my act. So it was a victory dance for me. You see, a negative can always be turned into a positive if you choose to get your ego out of the way and let your creativity take the drivers seat. By the way, I harbored no ill feelings for the illusionist that requested this but instead felt grateful that he placed such a challenge upon me, he doesn’t know what a blessing it was, for it gave me an opportunity to see what I was made of and I grew from the experience.
There are other challenges that come up too. You get to a show with other magicians on the bill and they are doing the same effects as you and want YOU to take yours out! Well in my personal opinion I think the one doing the trick the longest with the reputation for that effect, should always get seniority and first choice, but that rarely happens so my suggestion is if you can take it out and it doesn’t effect the integrity of your show too much than, that’s the quick solution, but if it does or you simply need the time and you have no replacement routine, then you gotta be humble and offer to let the other act go on first, before you so they feel they get the edge on performing it first. That is if your ego can handle it Trust me you’ll be rewarded for this later…I know. Or you can once again just be the Diva and throw an atomic fit! That always gets results doesn’t it? No you get no rewards for that but plenty of stories about you circulating, hey it’s all publicity, right? It takes a bigger person to make the changes and sacrifices that are needed. You build karma points that way! Not to mention an important skill set, once again adaptability.
Ok so how about the person that books you after they’ve seen you do your act and then asks you the day of the show if you can do more time than what he booked you for? You can direct him to the contract agreement, you can ask for more money or you can make your client happy and say well you booked me to do my act but just this one time, I can do an extra routine or two for you. Now they feel good that you’re willing to go the extra step to make them happy and the chances of getting more jobs or referrals will increase through that source.
What if you get to a corporate job or a nightclub gig and find out that that they have a DJ, that it’s a rave and they want you to perform to their music instead of yours? Once again, can you, will you adapt? Maybe you could have a different routine on the sideline that you can do instead that could fit the situation nicely. I usually bring out my linking rings or rope in those situations, it can be performed to any music and lends itself to open improv.
I have some simple solutions that are really just common sense but important to implement if you want to be prepared for the unexpected. The answer is ALWAYS be prepared for the unexpected.
1.) Many venues don’t allow the use of fire without a permit, or even if you do. If you use fire, always ask ahead of time if you can use fire and if not, be ready to have alternatives in place. Same goes with animals in your show, this can always affect where you will be staying as well. All these things need to be clear before you arrive at the venue on the day of the show.
2.) Always find out who is on the show with you if it is a Magicians line up. Inform the producer in advance of what you are doing by sending them a list of effects you are performing to avoid duplication which saves a lot of trouble later.
3.) If you have extra material and routines, always bring them with you, just in case something happens, you have extra material or a fall back routine in the event of a prop breaking or otherwise. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it I say.
4.) Always be at your best, especially when things are at there worst. A calm demeanor breeds a clear mind which is necessary for problem solving.
5.) Last but not least, get your ego in check and cultivate detachment and adaptability.
People are waiting to experience you, not your magic tricks, they are just your tools.
Remember, there is a chance they have not seen you before so they don’t know what to expect anyway. Your persona should outweigh your effects.
It’s not the strongest that survives the Chaos, it’s the one most able to adapt to sudden changes that insures survival.
So good luck and I’ll see you on the other side of evolution!