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A step by step guide to doing awesome outdoor puppet shows

Discussion in 'Storytelling and Puppets' started by junglejoe, Dec 25, 2013.

  1. junglejoe

    junglejoe New Member

    Performing outside can be fairly simple and greatly enjoyable if you are equipped with the right tips, tools and tricks. On the contrary, it can also be unpredictable and distracting, especially to beginning performers. This guide is designed to help keep you prepared and organized for performing at outdoor events.
    While scheduling your performance, make sure that the event organizer provides you with all of the basic information about the venue that you will be performing at. Additionally you can do your own research on the venue online.

    Now that the puppet show is booked, keep these tips in mind for the actual day of the performance:

      • Always allow some extra time before your show to let the audience gather around and settle down before beginning the performance
      • At outdoor shows parking can be a problem, so speak to the event organizer about reserving a parking spot for you
      • The actual venue may be too far from the parking area, so always bring a dolly to transport equipment. Keep in mind that your dolly may not work on grass
      • Try to make your set-up as compact and simple to assemble and break-down as possible, you should only have to make one trip from your vehicle to the venue
      • At times a situation that you have little to no control over may present itself, in such a case, if the audience is having a great time allow yourself go with the flow and play it off
      • Background noise can be a problem in outdoor settings where a lot is going on at once, make sure that your sound equipment can withstand background noise
      • Many venues will not have electrical outlets available to plug your sound system into. Purchase a battery-powered portable sound system to use for your outdoor performances.
      • It’s good to have a portable sound system with a battery rather than a generator, the generator itself will produce a lot of noise and can be difficult to set up
      • Be prepared for any extreme weather conditions, heavy wind or rain can greatly disrupt your performance
      • Make sure that you have wind foam for your microphone so that the wind does not carry the sound away from the audience
      • Dress appropriately and according to the weather and occasion of the event
      • If possible, find an area with shade to perform under. Performing directly under the sun can quickly drain your energy during a performance.
      • Add an overhead tarp tent to your set-up to protect yourself against both sun and rain alike
      • Bring bottled water for yourself to keep you hydrated in between acts
      • Make sure you get paid before you leave. Never leave payment status uncertain. Everything should be worked out and agreed upon before the performance.
      • And of course, the most important tip of all… make sure to have fun!
    • Article as published at Allpro puppets blog.

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  2. Special K'z

    Special K'z Well-Known Member

    Nice article. Thanks Joe, The time before your show is called preshow and is a great time to size up your audience and figure out who would make good candidates for volunteers or ones to play off of. Couple of things from experience. Make sure if you are booked to be on a shared stage let them know that they should plan plenty of set up and tear down time in between acts. They don't know what you need careful planning and communication with the event planners is the key. I have rarely had trouble with electricity but have been staged way far from the mainstream and had trouble drumming up an audience. It helps if the event planners book a show with a set show time they need to do some pre publicity for you if they want to assure an audience. Sometimes kids shows get bottom billing and if your not in a high traffic area parent's will miss your show. I've had disappointed parents ask me to do a second show cause they missed the first one. Not always possible. As to area location I have even tried to move closer to the action but then it ended up being impossible to find an open outlet. One thing I've found helpful is to have a full listing description of my offerings for event planners that lists everything they possibly would need to know. (You can see mine on my second page of my website) This way event planners can read it and say yes you fit our venue and this is what I want you to do for us at this time. No questions asked or at least eliminating most major misunderstandings that can arise if you don't have it written down. Then this can be spelled out in the contract. But the listing is a great first start. Communication is the key and what identifies you as a professional performer.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  3. junglejoe

    junglejoe New Member

    Thank you Special K'z for such a valuable contribution, checked out your website too and loved the way you have organized all the information there.
    And I really liked the way you have simplified your setup, proves how much we can learn from experience.
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  4. Special K'z

    Special K'z Well-Known Member

    thanks Joe and believe me I used to think a pre show really wasn't that important till this last summer. The hypnotist scheduled to go on before me didn't want to start his show cause of no audience so I go about the grounds trying to drum him up an audience and to thank me he runs right up to the time I was to start my show? Yeah thanks for the set up time. I had a second gig booked that day so no time for leeway. This gave me no pre show time. So to save time I cut it out, and ended up misreading a volunteer. This resulted in my injuring my knee trying to make it back up the stage at the end of my show too quickly and tripping over my big old clown shoes. And I had a 3 hours drive and a big show to do that night. Needless to say I could barely walk to my car that evening. So one miscommunication with the event planners lead to one mistake after another. I still have trouble with that knee. That was when I took the time to write up all my services and post it. I send it out with every publicity mailing that I send and with all prospects who contact me asking about services. I'm not sure it will eliminate all problems but hopefully it will help me from further injury. You can also tell now I'm not to fond of hypnotists, I understand that they need an audience, I suppose same as puppeteers, but sometimes they seem to get more respect than us clowns and children's preformers who for all tense and purposes are way more versatile performers. You can bet if the shoe was on the other foot and he was waiting on me to finish my performance he wouldn't have been able to walk the grounds and continue to perform. A puppeteer probably could have but not a hypnotist. I wish event planners could see this. All they had the gal to say was "So you are going to stay late and do walk around performances after your show like you said right? " UHHH No I did that before when he was running into my time. And yes we did have a contract with time spelled out. They were lucky I was versatile enough to provide the services they contracted for in the time allotted even if they didn't uphold to their part of the bargain. Sorry Rant Ended!
  5. junglejoe

    junglejoe New Member

    Ouch!! that's messed up. I know I feel at times that kids entertainers get treated like a jump house rental service. We are performers and what we do requires training and skill. My time is valuable, I always say something if I have another event to run to. But I do roll with punches and always, always try to keep the customer happy. I do try to be respectful to other performers, just as long as they are considerate as well. If I feel disrespected in any way, I usually would politely say something to let them know that my time is valuable. Clowning around is a serious business. Most people don't know that....:)
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