This is Part Two. You can find Part One here – https://magicianmarkjames.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/pushing-boundaries/
The tricks are chosen and the script is written. Essentially, the ‘show’ is ready to go. Or so I thought…
I’ve used the word show business in conversation on thousands of occasions. I even used it in part one of this blog. The only thing I didn’t do is consider what it actually means. Show – easy, business – uh oh.
It never occurred to me that I’d be in any way responsible for getting people to come see this show. Maybe I watched Field Of Dreams too many times, but I always assumed that “if I built it, they would come”. As soon as I told Martin at Viva that the show was ready, he asked me for a huge list of things that I hadn’t even considered needing. Perhaps I’m playing up my naivety a little, but what I did need was help. Fortunately that help came from Viva, and it’s name was Jon Boriss.
Jon is Viva’s marketing manager. He’s a straight talking, hard working, creative and considerate guy. These are all qualities I value highly, so Jon and I hit it off right away. Before I spoke to Jon I knew I needed a poster. I’d had some terrific publicity pictures taken by Charles Leek (www.charlesleek.com) and a poster put together.
I sent it to Jon. His immediate reply was along the lines of “That’s a nice bit of art, but have you got a poster?”
I could tell already this learning curve was about to be steep.
We went through lots of different versions of the poster.
We were there. Poster done, write up, show synopsis and all creative decisions made. Time for business again.
Next up you have to decide the ticket price, the family ticket price, the OAP and concession ticket price etc. These thankfully come under heavy advisement from the venue and so it wasn’t too tricky to get it all going. With all those decisions made the show is ON SALE! We made it.
On opening night there’s nowhere to hide. For months people have been asking you about the show. You’ve explained to many in great detail what you’re planning, how you want it to look, what you hope will happen. Essentially it’s impossible for this to be anything other than a disappointment, surely? Because when you explain a show to people, especially one you haven’t done yet, you tell them the perfect fairytale version of how it will be.
Then you have to grind out the realistic versions that’s within your timescale, budget and talent. Usually this is less that your imagination and that’s no bad thing, it means you won’t be out of ideas in future when you develop further.
On the night things actually went pretty well. I didn’t puke and all of the tricks worked. I think that’s about as much as you can hope for. Thankfully I had my friend Darren Mac on hand assisting, stage managing and picking me up on things I might forget. Over the course of time, this role would soon fade away as things that seemed impossible became easily reached and my comfort level returned to that which I am used to. In retrospect you often look back on challenges and see they often weren’t as hard as you initially thought.
Sadly, this is only possible afterwards, otherwise we’d rarely have anything to worry about.
You also often look back on things and judge them harshly because they’ve since gotten better. One the night immediately after the show I was elated. It was the biggest challenge I’d ever given myself with regards to performing and it went well.
Now I had to do it again, every Tuesday and Wednesday for a season! Thank fully it got a little better and a little easier every time. I can’t wait to do it all again this coming season because all of the logistical worries are gone and I can focus solely on the material and it’s performance. Now that I’ve done it once, there’s no need to worry if I can do it again. That’s a great position to be in mentally. This year I can enjoy it and for that I think it’ll be a better show. I’m streets ahead on the marketing and we already have this years poster, thanks to another fresh pair of eyes in James Howells.
I’ve also written some great new material and found a little more authenticity for the ‘sideshow’ part of the show, for which I am very excited to share.
Having a long-form theatrical show has long been a dream of mine and ever since I first came on holiday and fell in love with Blackpool as a kid, it’s even better to have it there. In one of the most consistent homes of British variety entertainment.