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A stage offers amenities to inspire artistry. It has curtains to help performers to segue from one act to another. It has large wings on both sides where props can line up, waiting for their entrance into the stage proper.
A stage also has a large space at the back, where artists and performers can move around and warm themselves up, as they wait for their turn to perform.
Theater stages are the ideal venues for performing artists, including magicians.
In real, workaday life of magic performers, though, a stage is not usually available. The birthday mom can’t usually afford to build a stage for the magic show she has hired. And even if she can, the living room is not big enough for a stage.
That being the case, most magicians in the Philippines have to content themselves with whatever performing space the client provides them.
However, in the rare cases when a stage is available—as in auditoriums, town plazas, clubhouses—there are some things a magic performer must keep in mind. While a stage can enhance a performance—it allows a large audience to see what’s happening even from afar—it can also work against the magician and trip him up.
If you are to work on a stage, steer away from the these pitfalls:
Band Stage. A stage built for a band is unusually high. They are sometimes twice the height of people. The logic behind stratospheric band stages is, I think, to prevent fans from climbing the stage in the middle of a performance and smothering the band members with love and affection.
A magic show is unlike a band concert. It has some audience participation, which is difficult to execute if the stage is high. A magician has to choose an audience member with the agility of mountain climber to bring on such high stages.
A stage for bands is also not the ideal place to perform on. It usually bristles with drum sets, Yamaha organ, microphones on mic stands, and large speakers. There is almost no place for a magician to set up his roll-on table or small illusions in the midst of this clutter.
Avoid a band stage like the HIV.
Clubhouse Stage. Most clubhouses have stages of the platform type. They are usually about one foot high. While they help elevate the performer, so people at the back of the room can see the action, platform-type stages are not high enough to prevent children from invading the magician’s performing space.
If they get the chance, children watching a magic show will climb up the stage and watch the performance like a colony of ants looking up from the performer’s feet.
No need to avoid clubhouse stages, but be wary of them.
Town plaza Stage. Town plaza stages are constructed for various purposes and uses. That’s why they are called multi-purpose stages. Although designed for many types of programs, they are not made for magic shows. They have no wings, no back stage areas, no curtains.
When a magician performs on this type of stage, people usually watch from the sides of the stage (some members of the audience actually bring chairs and sit on the stage beside the performer), from behind him (children climb atop the back drop and watch the show like monkeys atop trees), and in front of him (members of the audience climb up the stage via the stairs in front of the stage).
Eschew town plaza stages as you eschew obfuscation.
My only complaint against mall stages is that it is usually in a central court of the building under an open, skylit-type ceiling. People on the second, third and fourth levels of the mall can watch the show on the stage from a vantage point. You guessed it. They watch the show by looking right into the top of the Square Circle and Substitution Trunk. In the process, they get an enlightening education on the ways of the magician.
Be leery of mall stages as you are leery of sex offenders.
A stage can be useful, but not all stages are made for magic shows. The magician must be aware of this awful truth and adjust his performance accordingly.