Podcast 007: Should You Pack Small and Play Big?

How To Be A Professional Magician, Podcast 7

Should You Pack Small and Play Big?

In this episode we ask why you should “pack small and play big”. It’s a common phrase that you’ve no doubt heard, and it is rooted in logic; but is sticking to this rule potentially compromising the show that you can provide? And would adapting the shows let to a better product for the client – and lead to more bookings?

To “pack small and play big” means creating a show that literally packs up small (and therefore easy to transport and carry), but can be performed on a stage and entertains the whole audience. However, this can lead to magicians packing small for the sake of it, even when there is no need to – and this can compromise the show as a trick and/or props that would be better suited will be left out.

Of course, if you are travelling on public transport then limitation will apply, but if you are travelling by a car and have plenty of room then there really is not need to make the size of the prop the primary deciding factor on whether it should be included in your show.

Compare your tricks – both what is in your current show, and what isn’t. Looks at what are ones that pack small, and compare to the ones that don’t. How do they compare on playing to the audience? Have you found that your show is made up of items that are easier to transport, even though they may not get as good a reaction as some of the larger tricks you don’t have in your show?

Size isn’t a determining factor. There are plenty of effects that DO fit the “pack small and play big” rule, such as mind-routines; or tricks that involve spectators. Conversely, there are plenty of tricks that large (and not just illusions) that may easily fill a stage but not get much of a reaction from the audience. And of course this is before scripting and presentation is allowed for.

Pick the material that gives you (and hence your client) the best possible show, not the material that takes the least room in your car.

Work out variations of the same trick that can be performed at different scales. You can then take the props that will fit the size of the gig you are working at.

If you regularly work at venues that require a show that will play large but you have restrictions on what you can take (perhaps because it’s a city centre location, or you are performing on a cruise ship and your luggage and your show must fit in a single suitcase) then have two different acts – a ‘small’ and a ‘big’ act.

You can use banner stands, flip-charts and projectors to make your show fill the stage and ensure your entire act can be seen and enjoyed by the whole audience; yet these also fold down and pack small for easy transport.

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