In the month of August, I was engaged to perform for Central at Clarke Quay. Initially, the organizers wanted me to perform Interactive Close Up Magic in which I would walk along the stretch of Singapore River, on the side of Central to perform my magic.
However, after further discussions and understanding why they chose magic instead of other entertainment, I proposed Street Theatre. Their objective was to add buzz and color to Central. In addition to the stalls and music, they wanted a magician to entertain, bring laughter and amazement to the crowd. Understanding this, I pushed for Street Theatre as it would fulfill their objectives more precisely making it a right match of entertainment with setting.
The organizers were initially slightly reluctant as they were new to the concept of a Street Theatre show, but they decided to give it a try on day 1. It was a success!
- Day 1: Street Theatre at Central
The organizers were extremely pleased and surprised that I could draw such a large crowd for them! Without a doubt, they were very impressed by the insights I shared and the unconventional proposition to their original proposal.
- Finale for Day 1
After the first day, the organizers were sure that this was what they wanted. And we carried on for the rest of the month.
Despite the strong positive feedback, I thought about the organizer’s initial objectives and thereafter, I made adjustments to the setting so that I could:
1) Capture a larger crowd.
2) Do a a bigger show.
3) Add more buzz to the event.
I realized that all I needed to do was to perform facing Central, and let the audience members sit on the steps. This allowed more people to be able to watch the performance and it allowed for more interaction between the performer and the audiences as I am now able to see all their faces and make eye contact with them.
- Street Theatre
With a larger crowd, it also becomes harder for a performer to retain and engage every member of the audience. This is especially true in the street setting as the audience members have no obligation to stay and watch the performer (in contrast to a Dinner and Dance function or a paid ticketed performance), it takes a lot of confidence and charisma to draw and retain such a large crowd. In fact, I had fellow magicians coming up to me asking in disbelief, ”How is it possible for you to retain such crowd without the use of music, staging, lighting and big fancy props?!”
The answer is simple, the show is designed to flow and maximize engagement, the interaction and by-play that are embedded in the show so that it makes each member of the audience feel like they are a part of a unique performance. That is why they do not leave as they are having so much fun in this “play” that I started and they too want to be a part of its ending. This is not an easy task, it took me years to get to this point and till today, I am still constantly improving the act.
- The view from the top!
At the end of each performance, I have made many friends who came up to me, shook my hand and took a picture with me, telling me that this is a totally different show from what they have ever seen.
Performing at Central was definitely not an easy task, however, it is very fulfilling to perform for a dispersed crowd and turning them into an audience who would respond to you in unison, creating that buzz and colour to the shopping mall. I personally think that you can add so much more vibrancy and value to a place and event by making sure that the right entertainment fits the right setting, and not relying on the “easy” or “conventional” approach.
That’s all from me! Maybe I will see you as an audience of Street Theatre soon!