Second Day of Street Performance

At the end of my first ever street performance I hung around in Covent Garden to watch the other performers in the hopes that I would pick up some tips.

I have always been the sort of person who analyses things and tries to learn from their mistakes, if I was going to succeed as a street performer I had to get more than £1.56 in my hat.

I noticed that the acts with a lot of props seemed to get bigger crowds so I decided to take along things I could carry but would look big and take my time about placing them in just the right place on the ground - already my eventual performing character was developing.

One thing I noticed was that the delivery of lines was much slower and more concise and I guess generally the acts were a lot more visual than I was. This was great because my first acts as a young magician were all silent manipulation acts (I stopped doing that type of act when I overheard someone at a convention say “that David Brown is technically very good but just so boring”). I could use my knowledge of keeping things visual.

Somewhere along the line I had taught myself to juggle and decided to put a routine together that included juggling. I had been playing around with lots of visual ideas for quite some time and decided to go for it. My first experience of working on the street was so liberating I decided that I could experiment and see what would develop.

I seem to remember that I didn't turn up again until after the weekend, I figured the weekend was a chance to earn big and I didn't want to "step on any toes" and I was quite happy to learn my chosen craft.

When it was my turn I went out with my props and took my time about placing them (I didn't have any intention of using the umbrella and most of the other props I put out but a potential audience weren’t to know that).

At the end of the setting up process I had a quite a few people watching but from a distance so I tried to entice them forward, needless to say it didn’t turn out too well (another technique I would have to learn). However, I went through my new act which included introducing metal rings one at a time – I would take one out of the bag throw it into the air and reach into the bag for another one, catch the first ring and throw the second into the air then juggle these two for a few seconds then reach into the bag for a third ring and throw it into the pattern. The third ring was the gaffed ring from my set of linking rings but I figured it would be travelling to fast for anyone to spot the gaff and the fact that I was throwing it around in front of people was enough to not arouse any suspicion.

Eventually I would catch the rings and go into a linking ring routine using very ornate language that I thought would appeal to foreigners (don't ask me why).

The finale of the act was a straitjacket escape with my ankles locked together with an electronic release prop.

When I "bottled" the crowd I made the grand sum of £7.20, the other performers there were intrigued by my change of style and were a lot friendlier. They told me that anywhere between £6 and £8 was a good 'hat' for a mid-week performance.

I knew I still had a lot of work to do but suddenly it was looking like I could actually earn a living but more importantly I could learn about performance. There were a few times when sections of the crowd drifted away and I made a mental note of these so that I could adjust whatever I was doing at the time.

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