Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On The Road - Part 3: The Show

Of course, the purpose of our trip to Taiwan was to perform. Our schedule was pretty standard for a tour schedule, pretty brutal for a normal human being's schedule.

We had 4 shows ... in 4 days ... each in a different city in Taiwan.

The first day was of course the most treacherous. Our Magic road cases with all the props and equipment were slow to arrive at the theatre and it was the first day with the technical crew, who only spoke Chinese. Thank goodness for Jack who was Taiwanese and had very good English. He was our sound crew and often technical translator to lighting crew, spotlight operators, curtain operators, and the volunteer setup/breakdown crews each day. We had less time that first day to do the most work.

Of course, we had a few bumps in the road along the way. They started early with our first tech meeting the night I arrived in Taiwan (after over 14 hours of air travel). "We don't have Rosco colors, only Lee and those are limited. We don't have the colors you said. What colors do you want? Those? We don't have those either." We had multiple instances of lights with no frames to hold the color, and basically had to entirely redesign the show daily rather than load in the same show each place and go. The day we loaded into an analog run theatre with our digital equipment was fun. I ran the two-scene preset board(like in the old high school days) while our tech ran the little bit of moving lights and par cans we had on the digital board. Getting the levitation unit and road cases in out of schools and libraries always had its challenges and finding out what curtains, borders, etc were available to us was always an interesting adventure.

I worked mostly with this guy, he was our wonderful head lighting technician. He led the crew each day with our hang and focus in addition to running the lights each night. There are certain things that are universal no matter the language and from what I experienced, when you work with professionals in your field, we all think the same. There were many times when I would give instruction to our translator (who was not a technician, per say), she would relay the information and he would then start to say why it was impossible to do. Before she could translate back, I usually had a good idea of what he was saying and was starting to give instructions for an alternate. Needless to say, words like "Tieng" which meant "STOP!" were useful, and I think that as much as I learned to say "Red, Blue and Pink" in Chinese, they learned the english version. Apparently the concepts of a "Standby" versus a "Go" don't translate so well. I spent a good bit of energy spewing commands like "no, i didn't say go....wait, don't go back now that you went there...wait, but...go! go! hurry! go! you missed it!" However, by the last show, everyone understood what "standby" and "go" meant.
Our schedule was basically show up to the theatre early AM, load in, hang lights, focus, setup everything, do a technical run-through, take a short dinner break (mostly while audience was already starting to arrive), perform, breakdown, drive anywhere from 2-5 hours to the next city that same night, land at the hotel, sleep and do it all over again! And again, and again, and one more time! This kind of schedule works best when we all chip in and help with everything. I really enjoyed learning where the magic props all stored and quickly had my 'roadcase' that I was responsible for. Jordan was awesome with pictures of each case and how it packs. Much like sailboats, everything has a place and it does not work right if that map isn't followed exactly.

As they say, "Practice makes perfect" and by the time we hit the last show in Taipei, we had a mostly well-oiled machine. That theatre was in the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Hall and is the second largest theatre in all of Taiwan. It was a boggling space considering we had started in smaller school theatres and such. The view from the control area is shown here. Jeff, Abbi and Jordan looked like tiny little ants on the stage from that vantage point, but luckily for the audience there was live video feed projected with zoomed in closeups. That show was loads of fun because we could really stretch our legs with effects, rock n'roll and the subtler cueing rather than just trying desperately to get the show plugged in.

Not only did Jeff, Abbi and Jordan perform onstage, but they also did strolling closeup before the show as well as greeting audience members in the lobby.

Part of each show was the time before, after and during intermission that we were selling merchandise. This was also a time that Jeff would sign autographs and take pictures. I really enjoyed watching the excitement on the audience members' faces to get to meet Jeff, Abbi and Jordan and take pictures with them. Although it's tiring after a two-hour performance, I think Jeff enjoys it too, as evident in this picture taken in Hsin-Chu. After the show, there was usually a madhouse scene with people clambering over each other to get to Jeff. Without a doubt, every show had at least one local magic club group who all had their very own decks of cards and memorbilia for signatures. Our last performance, in Taipei, had a particularly impressive crowd, who formed an organized line all around the HUGE lobby of the building to get autographs. Jeff and I were also amused by the 'paparazzi' of people crowding in to take pictures that night, as you can see in my picture of their pictures.
Jordan also looked like he had fun meeting fans, signing autographs and taking pictures.
Overall, after all that, the ups the downs, the challenges and the adrenaline rush's, I can't wait to do it all again! There is nothing more satisfying than watching the audience light up at a surprise or reveal , or being in the groove of the rock and roll at the end of a show.

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