It’s taken forever, but I’m getting to work on assembling a briefcase magic show. I dug out of the shed an old Pelican 1525 case that I bought for a specific gig a while ago, then used for my outdoor kid shows in the summer of 2020.
This case had a flange on the bottom, and I took that off. It used to have a bunch of custom 3d printed holders in it, but I took them out when I started using the case for the kid shows. I did leave my Sharpie holder in the case. This is a pretty creative solution to keeping pens easily accessible. The yellow holder has magnets in it, and so do the pens. They will pretty securely in the holder, but are easy to reach in and remove.
I’m starting to play with the layout of things in the case:
I have to make some choices, like using poker size cards, or moving up to parlour or jumbo sized cards. I think that choice will end up being made for me by what props/routines end up in the show. -Louie
When it comes to prop management, I’m not the best, but I do have a system. All of my hand held props are in a bin on my table. I don’t do any performing on the table top, it all happens in my hands, so the table simply holds my props. Here’s a peek into my table top bin:
As things get used they either go back into their space in the bin if the trick is instantly reset at the completion of the trick. If the trick doesn’t reset, it goes into my case which is to my left and holds a two larger props I use. This system works well for me when doing three shows a day at fairs. It makes it easy for me to assess what tricks need to be reset and make sure nothing gets missed.
I’m sure there are better systems. I know some two person acts have the “assistant” bring out each routine and then remove the props at the end of the routines. The advantage of that is the show is getting packed up while the show is happening. I’ve used this system in the past when I’ve performed with my daughter. It’s a really nice way to do it, but it’s not something in can do in 90% of my shows.
What’s probably the most important thing is that you have a system of some sort to try to eliminate or shorten dead time while getting or putting away props. Sometimes a joke or interesting patter can fill this time. Other instances, simply having a prop that’s easy to grab is the best option.
When doing the full show it’s easier for me to be set up confidently than it is when doing bits of the show out of the full show context. Last week I was recording some bits for a TV show and it was really stressful making sure that I had all that I needed for each routine.
Unlike a live show, you don’t have the freedom to make a joke and then rummage through your case. Sure on TV you can do reshoots, but doing them because you forgot to set a prop is pretty unprofessional.
I only forgot to set one prop for one routine. It was a dry erase marker, and luckily I had a sharpie in my pocket. I used the sharpie and ruined the prop (or at least made it harder to reuse) but the only person who would know is me!