Amplification and Greetings

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Amplification and Greetings

Postby Chris » 23 Dec 2017, 23:31

I never use a microphone when performing magic for children however large the audience. However that is because my audience is never above about 400 children. I know some performers who work the Pontins type holiday camps and similar venues do have much larger audiences and do definitely need a mike in order to keep control.
When performing Punch, however, I always use a mike in the booth. The fabric covering of the booth does absorb quite an amount of sound and although it is possible to compensate for this by projection and exagerated diction it is so much easier and more comfortable to use a mike.
The old Victorian professors who worked the streets certainly had to manage without microphones and they must have had a great deal of background noise to contend with. Also the Punch shows I saw as a child, in village hall or at the seaside, were all performed without the use of microphone.
All this is a lead in to telling you about my last school Christmas Show this year. There is one junior school which I have been going to for over 10 years where they always book my show for the last day of the Christmas term. I welcome this because that is not a popular day with most schools who would rather get such things out of the way earlier in the week. Also I look forward to this school because it is one where I perform for the whole school including years 5 and 6 (in contrast to many schools where I perform from Nursery to year 4, the older classes doing their own thing, a disco perhaps or cinema visit.)
I always arrive during the lunchtime break and the kids in the playground recognise me and shout greetings as I trundle by trolley load of equipment from car park to entrance. They keep me on my toes since the older children will have seen my show 6 or 7 times before they leave. And the school has grown over the years from 67 pupils when I first went there to over 400 this year.
And it was with the prospect of entertaining 453 lively kids that I discovered as I unloaded the equipment that I had forgotten my amplifier. I realised exactly what must have happened: This week I have had workmen in the theatre all week, with all their equipment in the theatre foyer. It is in the foyer that I pack and arrange my equipment for the next day's shows. Each day is different depending on type of show, and whether its a first, second or third visit etc. and how many shows I am doing. I leave the equipment in the foyer, ready to be loaded in the morning. I do not like leaving stuff in the car overnight.
Because of having to travel widely, and get to schools for morning shows early, I am usually loading the car in the morning when it is still dark. This was what happened on Friday, and my amplifier had been accidently concealed by a bit of the workmen's equipment, and in my haste I missed it as I loaded up.
As I mentioned, I don't use a mike for the magic but I do use one in the Punch booth.
I consoled myself with the thought this, like most schools, would probably have a portable amp - possibly a Coomber with which I am familiar. And I did have the spare mike and long lead which I always carry. And at the worst I could do it live - sans mike, as I had done earlier in my career.
They didn't have a suitable amp and so I did do it live, to 453 children, and I did keep control! Actually it was easier than I imagined. I slowed down my speaking, shortened the sentences, spoke very deiberately and clearly especially when trying for a particular response from the kids. The only tricky parts were when when I had whipped the kids into a frenzy through some bit of business or another, and I wanted to calm them down for the next sequence. But I was pleased that all the little tricks one only gleans through experience came to my aid and I was quite happy with the show. Even so, I'm pretty sure that I will double check the presence of the amplifier for some time to come.

Tomorrow's Christmas Eve so it isn't too early to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, wealthy and peaceful 2018.
It's good to squawk!
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