If the Victorians could do it .....

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If the Victorians could do it .....

Postby Chris » 27 Aug 2017, 18:19

Bank Holiday Sunday, lovely weather, and a nice pitch on the seafront at Llanfairfechan, a small holiday resort on the North Wales coast. I've done occasional shows here every year for the past 25 summers or so. I've already done a couple of Sundays this year and had good crowds at both. Today I started the warm up with only half a dozen kids on the mat, so decided to play some music and dance a marinette around to try and attract a few more. After only a few chords the music packed in. On investigation I found that the battery was apparently totally drained. I hadn't recharged after two shows the previous day and it would seem I had left the amp switched on overnight. Calamity!

I did half an hour of magic - and as I don't normally only use a mike when inside the booth this presented no problems. But the crowd was building up and was quite sizeable by the time I was due to start Punch. Oh well, they'll hear the swazzle OK, I thought. Then it struck me that our Victorian ancestors worked busy and noisy streets without any amplification so why couldn't I .

Following a quick invocation to Saint Simeon I went into my opening chatter in the booth as I readied the puppets, and was relieved to get the laughs and responses as expected. I started the show, perhaps speaking a little more slowly, a little more distinctly than usual. The whole show ran without problem, I even managed to quieten the children after teasing them into a frenzy without any difficulty. I really didn't miss the microphone at all.

Of course I will continue to use amplification when in the booth. I was only doing one show today and I'm sure I would have found it more difficult to project as I got tired and did further shows. But it has taught me not to be frightened of working unamplified should I ever face the need in the future.
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Re: If the Victorians could do it .....

Postby lesclarke » 28 Aug 2017, 02:09

Yep, something I regularly think about.

I carry spare everything as I have a fear of being left without amplification, partly due to the fact that I don't have a very strong voice. It's loud enough, but sort of gets easily strained .

I recently realised that for a year or so I had not been doing any warm up, must start again.

Had the problem of battling against an over loud PA system recently and as one instinctively does made the puppet movements that bit more exaggerated, and as I have found before, in some ways, especially with a large crowd the show has more impact, being more visual and relying less on witty lines.
As if I haven't got enough to do today, with all I've got to do today.
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Re: If the Victorians could do it .....

Postby Chris » 28 Aug 2017, 15:46

You are right of course Les, the best Punch shows tell the story with the action and the dialogue is simply icing on the cake. This is especially true for the stand and watch type of show. But if one is a children's entertainer then the dialogue becomes more important in that you want to draw the children into the show, want them to participate and agree and contradict the puppets. In such a scenario it is necessary for them to hear and understand you.
When I ran a van I, like you, always carried a standby amplifier. Since I changed to a car, albeit a big one, I find space often at a premium and have got out of the habit.
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