At yesterday’s day camp show where I didn’t have music or a microphone, I initially had a bit a “what did I get myself into” moment. I started the show and the kids were really rowdy, lots of chatter and random screaming. The group was 3-12 years old, with the majority in the 3-5 year old range. That meant most of the kids had no concept of magic, or how to behave during a show.
I opened with a warm up, and did the rules bit that I do for school assemblies. It tells them my behavior expectations in a funny way. Once I did that and then my first trick, it really snapped them to attention. 15 years ago when I was a kid, I really would have struggled with this. I would have thrown energy at the kids, instead of keeping more calm (but still have energy). Starting out calm, like I’m the captain of a ship, really brought them to me…instead of me going to them.
The other thing that having no production in the show made me do was work a bit slower and be comfortable holding for laughs or reactions without any “audio spew” in the background. Holding and waiting for a reaction for me is one of the most nerve wracking things in performing.