Happy Easter! Here's a blog.
This year I am embarking on a journey that has been a long time coming. Every summer, for the last four years, Megan and I have been going to the Edmonton International Fringe Festival as a summer vacation. I have been (sans Megan) to the Vancouver International Fringe Festival three times and thoroughly enjoy myself every trip. This summer will be a little different as I am finally taking my own show to these two festivals, and with this has come a lot of new experiences, and the festivals haven’t even started yet! Here is where you will find my thoughts about developing, scripting, curating, producing, re-scripting and whatever else it takes to create a fringe show!
Please note that this is my very first time creating a fringe show and these thoughts are not meant to be used as a guideline to create a show, but rather express my sheer and udder panic and confusion about what I am getting myself into.
First of all, it’s the fees! Holy freaking cow! Months…I mean MONTHS in advance, you have to apply for these festivals, and every one of them has a small registration fee and you are not guaranteed a spot. Now, before you jump down my throat and say (in a high pitched and very condescending voice) “They have to make money somehow…” and "don’t you know they need those registration fees for administrational work”. Yes, I do know all that, however, applying for multiple festivals to have the best chance of being able to make money in the summer months… almost lost me all the money I had in the winter months! It’s fine, and hopefully my shows will do quite well in the festivals I did make it into and I will make that money back. But it sure did get expensive.
After applying to all these festivals, and getting into two of them, I had to pull some kind of show out of my … brain … partially. I do have three unique shows that I can perform, and I do so at corporate events and private functions, but I wanted my fringe show to be completely new and include some never before used effects. I wanted this show to be unique and entertaining and special! It’s my first time at Fringe after all…as a magician. Well, I mean, I’ve always been a magician when I have been at the Fringe Festivals but I’ve never been in the festivals as a magician…you know what I mean.
With creating a brand new show comes a lot of roadblocks. Rather than putting together a show that can go from corporate event to corporate event and fit into their event seamlessly, I needed my show to represent me and my style of performance without having to worry about the corporate aspect of it. This was strange. It seemed as though I was creating the show for myself and I wasn’t sure what I liked… I wrestled with so many different effects, three or four pages in my notebook were lined with the possible effects I could use and I needed to narrow that down to ten or eleven. After I finally picked my effects, I had to start scripting…I needed to workshop it!
While arranging a workshop of a play, one doesn't have to worry about having an audience present, it is a luxury to a straight play to have viewers but to a magician, it is a necessity. Many of my peers and fellow performers have mentioned this prior, so I won’t claim the thought as my own but I also don’t know who to credit it to. Just know it’s a widely accepted notion amongst magicians. When you go to see a singer, and they mess up their lyrics, they are still singing… when you go to see a play and an actor skips a line, the play continues almost seamlessly and the audience is still watching a play. BUT! If a magician messes up a trick in a way that is apparent to the audience, you’re just watching some dude (Probably a guy, sadly there are not a lot of women in magic. That is starting to change, but that’s for another blog!) standing on stage and they have accomplished absolutely nothing. Hence the importance of practice and workshopping. And while practicing alone is all fine and dandy, I can get the moves down and even the patter, I don’t know how an audience is going to change the way I need to stand or where their eyes are focused, practicing magic in front of a live audience is extremely important. At least for me. SO!
If you’re in the mood to see some magic, check me out at The Historic Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod, Alberta on April 28th, 2018 where I will be presenting the world premiere of Ben Price Magic Presents: Rabbit Stew. And if you can’t make that OR if you did come on the 28th and had such a good time and wanted to see it again, check out The SOAR performing arts festival in Lethbridge on May 30th.
But the list of craziness continues. There are posters and handbills that have to be made…FOR EACH CITY… and again, there’s some more cash that has to be put out months in advance. Besides the cash though, one has to have the posters and handbills and show imagery designed. And to have show imagery, one has to have pictures taken. There is a lot to do to let people know you have a show at the festival. You could gamble that having no posters and handbills would work out and people would just hear about the show by word of mouth and remember to come…but that’s very unlikely in my opinion.
And finally, I have to travel! Travel is terribly expensive and as a magician, applying for grants is an exercise in futility. You can try all you want but in Canada, magic is not art (I guess). Which means, in large granting organizations, applications for magic shows, are almost always passed over or denied. There is a movement right now to try and have magic recognised as art but that’s in the United States. I would like to see this move into Canada and have our organizations recognise my art for what it is. ART! Duh!
All in all, this is turning out to be an extremely fun, but taxing adventure and I hope at least some of you can come see me in Vancouver and Edmonton!