Monday, April 14, 2008

There's no business. . . . like. . .

Click pic to enlarge

Rather than write about what a shitty weekend I had at work, I'm gonna try and convey an ounce of inspiration I received after watching a movie Polly turned me on to. Basically the movie (released in 2007) tracked 4 new musicals from the 2004 Broadway season and tracked them from inception to the Tony Awards. "Show Business: The Road to Broadway" is full of the ups and downs of show business.

It was great see, feel and hear the excitement of the actors, writers, dancers, singers, composers, directors, producers, etc. I was struck with what one woman said. I think she was a director. She was talking about how difficult it is to take an audiences' emotional temperature on any given night. WOW I thought! Where do you stick that thermometer? I'm not sure I even knew that the audience had an emotional temperature. This simple phrase gives me new insight as I evaluate my performances nightly. I quickly discerned that there is a direct correlation between the audiences' emotional temperature and the actual temperature. Over the last several months, I've studied peoples' hang time (the amount of time that someone will stop and watch my show) as it relates to how hot or cold it is. Performing in 90 heat in direct sunlight. . . see what I'm saying. But stop they do, and watch in the heat as we all sweat. So, what does this say about their. . . and mine. . . emotional temperature. I think it says, shows performed after sunset will be received in different light. It's a good 10 degrees cooler today, Lets hope for cooler heads.

Another part of the movie that resonated deeply, is where a director is directing a child actor. In the scene a girl gets in the kids face and says "Boo", he reacts surprised and stumbles back. The director goes off on the kid saying, "Your supposed to be surprised! You look like you know its coming and you're waiting to react." He goes on and tells the kid, "Be in the moment". I really liked hearing this. I pride myself on what I call "Freshness Factor". Is the performer walking through the act or really feeling it EVERY TIME? Having gone to work immediately following the watching of the movie, my head was full of excitement.

Just as art imitates life, the movie wasn't all happy singing and dancing. A fickle public, a lumbering story or just bad timing made the untimely demise of many Broadway shows, some lasting only 1 performance. As my work week ended, I too was faced with the reality of horrible numbers for the week.

I love making people happy with my magic. What can I say. That's what it's all about. I will go out there tonight, still chomping on this stuff ratteling around in my brain

"ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway" theatrical trailer

1 comment:

Timmy Jimmy said...

Interesting post and insights.
I got a different "feel" from the words "emotional temeperature" than your take, although I'm sure you already know what I'm going to talk about. You mention actual temperature of the outside and how it can and does affect your audience as well as yourself the performer. Emotional temperature on any given night has many facets and factors. For example, The physical make up of any said audience can affect the emotional temperature of that audience. I performed for an audience of mostly 75 year olds and their grown children.Most of them 50 or older. I had a really hard time warming them up to me and my act. Had there been even a few children in the room, it would have been a totally different "atmosphere."
Watch the movie, "Finding Neverland (2004) starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet for a great example of this concept.
J.M Barrie who wrote the play Peter Pan gives tickets awy for the opening night performance to a bunch of ophans. He strategically places the orphans throughout the theatre. Their laughter is spontaneous and contagious, soon the old men and women stuffed shirts are having a great time, and well, the rest is history!
You as a performer and where your head is at that day will affect the emotional temperature. Are you burned out? Excited, Happy or sad?
I watched Doug Hennings' magic movie from the 80's recently, it was a magical musical.
What I got from it is that Doug was able to always add the wonderment to his effects, he often looked and acted as surprised as his audience at what just happened. This is something I am working on doing better.
You touch on this in the bit about the boy who is supposed to be surprised. As a magician, we know what is coming so it is no surprise, but if we add the wonder at the moment they are surprised, well, you have a heightened moment!