I never thought that the desire to troupe a great show smartly and successfully would be controversial, but (sigh) …I read some stuff online …(I know. Stop. Stop. Stop.) …and here we are.
I confess, it hurts the Old Man’s feelings when he sees some performers misunderstand what “pack small & play big” means. Or to be more exacting, it hurts the Old Man’s feelings when he sees some performers misunderstand what “pack small & play big” means to …the Old Man. (That’s me.)
When I say, “pack small & play big” I’m not talking about some jabroni trying to do a lame packet trick that wouldn’t play for three people in front of three hundred people. Geesh. We all know that can be a suckfest of non-Fox-Lake proportions. It’s bad for the audience and it’s bad for the performer because he’s expressing himself in a selfish me-me-me-ME way! Ugh!!
The heart of play big is taking whatever limits the situation puts on you and delivering the best show you can.
The heart of pack small is acknowledging limits, whether those limits are a briefcase, carryon case, a carryon case and a checked bag, or the trunk of your Honda Pilot. And we all have limits.
Event planner: “So, I saw this act in Vegas and I want you to do the same thing. I want Johnny to lie down on a couch. You throw a sheet over him. He then floats up in the air. You pull away the sheet and he’s gone. Then he appears at the back of the room, jumping up and down, blowing a whistle. If that’s too much, please keep in mind, the whistle is negotiable.”
Magician: “You’re going to need a way bigger budget and room.”
Reality: Every gig has limitations.
These limitations can vary with:
Venue (Theater? Living room? Meeting room? Outdoors? School?)
Reset (Four different schools in one day)
Time (Do I have five minutes or fifty to set up?)
Travel (The thin model sawing doesn’t even fit in my checked luggage.)
And of course, budget.
There are magicians bringing in four cases to a gig who might wonder why I bring only one. To them I ask, “Where’s your Asrah levitation?”
The point is, we ALL set limitations. What varies is where the limitations are. To paraphrase a very old punchline …
“We’ve already established what you are. Now we’re just negotiating the price.”
We are limited in one way or another. All. Of. Us. Are.
It’s only when we embrace those limits and the reality that accompanies them can we fully embrace what to do with our show and for our audiences to give the BEST best performance we can.