Part one Putting a Show Together can be found in previous blog here.

In previous posts I have covered creative thinking, character, developing material, routines, practice, rehearsal and dress rehearsal. All of these finer points will serve you to putting a show together. For the purpose of this blog I am going to assume you have been working on all the above and now you are at the stage that you want to put it all together and produce a show.

The first thing I would like to bring to your attention is – this is where creative thinking is paramount and the process should be fun.

So –  I have been working on my character, material, routines and I have my studio or space all prepped.  I have my props to hand and a note pad and pencil to hand as well.

Ask yourself (and always bear this in mind)  what do you want your show to be and what will your audience see?

I have heard it said that the finale is the most important effect and I agree that the principle of this is true. Your finale is what will get coins in your hat and lead into gigs. You don’t want the scenario of a well-rehearsed show and then you screw up the finale – that will cost you your hat.

On the other hand, the opening is as important as your closer because with your opener com

This is where they are weighing you up to see if they think that you are worth watching.   Don’t get scared of this, there not standing there like Simon Cowl look-a -likes waiting to pass judgment!

If you create a reason for them to drift i.e. you have not quite thought out your show and their minds fall back on what they think they should be doing, well they may just not stay. Or you may have what I call a recycled audience – which is an audience that walks off and is replaced by people who are walking by. Whenever you are watching a street show look out for this, it happens to the best of us. My aim is to reduce that or even better to eliminate it all together. So at the end of my show, the first hedge of an audience is still with me and my audience has just grown. The additional problems with a recycled audience are that they tend to have less energy and tip a lot less –  I will go into this future post!

I tend to advice using three effects being the most you need in any one show, now iI am not one for making hard and fast rules and there is always an exception. I am going down the road of less is more you see. There have been times when I have drawn in an extra effect when the build has been real slow and other times when I have worked with just two effects and on other occasions, I have only worked my finale.

When I asked myself what do you want your show to be and what will your audience see – I came up with many thoughts on this.   Largely I wanted my show to be a universal family show that created magical moments in peoples lives! Summarised in “Creating Magical Moments in Peoples lives”.  I understand that to some this might sound cheesy but as an ethos I see it working daily even in my everyday life. Just with the power of words, you can bring about real change – real magic!

The Opener effect

There are hundreds of effects one can do to names a few.

  • Ambitious card routine
  • Linking Ropes/Rope Magic
  • Coins
  • Countless TT routines

Jugglers may start off with Danger at first

  • Fire
  • Vigorous warm up exercises
  • setting out props


Now the opening effect does not mean this is when the show begins – it may begin long before that with patter and setting up your pitch. I am looking at the effects you are choosing to use and asking you ask why.

Your rapport with your audience at the first step is as important as your last step in your show. Nothing should be left to chance – eye contact communication is vital. If you have a well-grounded character in your show I will say that is 90% of the battle now creating magic that will come easy.

Ask yourself will the effect that I am considering complement my character? For an extreme example you would not do sword swallowing at a five-year-old birthday party, would you?

So ask yourself what do you want that effect to do for you? I like effects that I can perform at eye level.   It simply re – inforces what I have been doing.  As much as I like to watch coins across, on the street if it is performed on a table I think you are negatively changing the audience perceptive.

It becomes platformed presentation. I am the same with cards, I am not talking about spreads and cutting a pack of cards but I mean a whole presentation performed on a table in my mind is too limiting and creates isolation – also kids cant sit on the floor and watch the show. The only exception I have seen to this is cups and balls, partly due to the fact they are not flat objects but rather pronounced.

It really comes down to the operator’s experience to make it the cups and balls work! The bottom line as a street performer you are also a public speaker or public performer. Your audience is watching your show because they like you or beginning to so don’t award them by showing them the top of your head every time you make a magical jest doing coins across on a table.

One of my routines is the linking ropes – this is a great opener.  Everything happens at eye level, and the bonus is I can hand out the ropes to the audience to tie them off and there is a mass audience participation that re-enforces the comradeship in the show.  This is all happening at the beginning and its very strong. Also, my ambitious card routine has the same rapport – a signed card appears every where and finally turns up folded in my mouth.  I’ve been doing this effect for over two decades!

I must admit I prefer a simple silk hanky vanish and reappear using a TT, over the complexed moves that are performed on a table with Coins and Cards. When I make that silk hanky vanish, or card appear out of my mouth, or the ropes that magically link – my audience glance me in the eye and keep their eye on the effect. They will see my belief in what has occurred and together we enjoy the moment – This principle lends itself well to “Creating Magical Moments in peoples Lives.”

Lastly, in my mind, a good opening effect is one that you can repeat at your leisure. You may have the odd day, show or shows where you have what we call a slow build and it is taking the time to pull an audience (It happens to the best of us) What better to have an effect as your opener that you can casually repeat if need be until you get your hedge.

Good opening effects 

  • compliments my character
  • At eye level
  • Involves the audience
  • Can be repeated


Next blog I will be looking at the middle of the show and then the finale