Evaluating Performance Ideas

How do you know if you have an idea worth bringing to the stage? Ultimately you don’t…
…however there are a number of things that you can do to increase your chances for a success.

First of all, ask yourself this question: Do I like it? I know it sounds simple, but you might be surprised to learn the number if times entertainers select routines simply because they think an audience will like it. That’s not good enough! The performer must also like it or the piece simply won’t go over well.

Secondly, evaluate what it is about the idea that you like. It could be the way the routine looks from the audience’s perspective. It might be that it is a thought-provoking concept. Perhaps it’s a good routine because of how it contrasts with the rest of your material. Take the time to figure out exactly why it is good about it. In this way you can put emphasis where it belongs with the new routine, and eliminate the aspects of it that are distracting.

Ask yourself if the new routine serve your overall goal. In most cases, this goal should be for the audience to get to know you better. They are spending time with YOU, so make sure that your material reflects that. I don’t mean to imply that you have to tell them about the real you, but I do mean that your character should be reinforced with everything that you do on stage. If you lose them even once, it can take a while to get them back. If you lose them several times, they may never come back. This is another reason that you should like the material that you present so that you feel connected to it.

Once you have chosen a new routine to try out in front of an audience, I would recommend sandwiching it between your more polished pieces. Open the show on a strong note so that you can build rapport with the audience. Let them get comfortable while you build up your own confidence as well. Once they like you, you can get away with trying anything, as long as it is not too long.

Many times when I am bringing something new to the stage, I will announce, “Here is a brand new piece that has never been performed on stage before now.” This will make the audience feel special, because they know that this is not a canned performance. And it adds tension, which is a good thing. There is the feeling that anything can happen. Then if something does go wrong, the audience will forgive you. Everyone wins.

Try adding new pieces into your show frequently. It will keep you on your toes and help you to enjoy your performing. Take risks for your own sense of fun! The excitement is contagious.

Brad Weston is a writer, juggler, and experimenter from way back. For more information about him and his work check out his website at http://www.bradweston.com

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