Here's a doozey of a problem: I had my lunch plate and a glass of iced tea sitting on a table. I looked down at it and, without anyone touching it, it slid off the table! The ship had suddenly lurched and leaned way over to one side. Now, imagine an assistant, supposedly in a trance, with the nape of her neck resting on the point of a sword, and that happens Anything top heavy or on casters is a potential danger. I'm not saying you can't do these things, only that if you are booked to do a show while at sea, and the sea is rough, be prepared to drop the effect, or suffer the possible consequences. One easily transported effect that doesn't take up much room, is 1 ightweight, and would be great when the ship is docked or in cglm weather, is the Broom Suspension. True, it is top heavy, but it's visible above waist level (unlike the Sword Suspension), it is a type of "levitation" (in the audience's mind they don't realize the subtle differences we do), and can be safely performed while docked or in calm weather. It would be difficult to do a Cutting in Half with only one assistant. You can't keep track of the two separate boxes if the ship suddenly leans. Hang onto the head box, and the foot box runs on its own accord into the front row!. For practical purposes, if you want to do a cutting trick, I would suggest the Zig Zag. If you think that trick is overdone, (it isn't in the lay audience's mind) then you could do the Cutting In Thirds (base method). It's visible and doesn't have the angle problems. Also, you can have locking casters installed to keep the box from rolling around without hampering the effect.
*6: If you require livestock for the effect, (Where Do The Ducks Go?, Vanishing Birdcage, etc.) you will have to get forms to take the livestock out of the country. This usually takes a while and you'll need to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get the correct forms. And find out the location of the closest consulate of the country you're importing the animals to. While this hasn't happened to me, I've heard several stories (backed up from several sources) about a magician who didn't have the correct forms, got to his destination, and officials KILLED his doves! 'Muff said. Now, if you're thinking of doing a Lion's Bride, you'll run into the same problem as the kids Paul mentioned in "Illusion Planning". There just isn't enough room to house the illusion and the animal. Plus, what will you do if you are a day at sea, with three days at sea to go, and you run out of food for the cat? Feed him the assistant that quit without notice? Too late, she's already gone. Sure, you could probably get some food from the kitchen, but when working ships, it's better not to cause any more work or problems than absolutely necessary, so plan ahead. Crew personnel, for some reason, don't like to do more than their share of work. Can you blame them? They work sometimes 16 hours a day, whereas you only do about 2 hours worth of work (that they see) per cruise. Why should they bend over backwards to get something for you?
*7: The more assistants you require, the more cabin space will be required, the more plane fares you'll have to pay for, the more money you'll spend on assistants. The ideal situation is to use illusions that only require one assistant, and get that assistant from one of the dancers already on board. True story: I used an assistant on a particular ship. Someone I had used before and trusted. She got a free cruise, free air fare, free room and board, plus $100.00 per week. All that was required of her was to do the Sub Trunk twice per the 16 day cruise, and abide by the rules of the ship. We were 3 hours from leaving Los Angeles to do Transcanal (Panama Canal) bound for Ft. Lauderdale. She (after causing numerous problems in other areas) quit without notice. She upset a lot of people by doing this and it was a bad reflection on me. She was my_employee. I quickly realized the advantages of using someone already on board. They already have their own cabin space, no air fare to worry about, and I pay them one fourth of what I was paying originally. Check with the cruise line or your agent beforehand to make sure this arrangement is O.K.
*8: If you are relying on certain illusions, what happens if something goes wrong and the prop needs to be repaired? Like finding food for an animal, if you are three days at sea, and your props need special tools to repair them, will you have the tools available? It would be in the best interest if
all your props could be repaired, assembled, taken apart, etc. with normal small hand tools. My Sub Trunk can be repaired with a flat blade screwdriver, dog bone wrench or pliers, and a hammer; all of which I carry in the crate. I also have a small sewing kit to repair the curtain or sack. If, for some reason, a lock jams, I have two extra. If the shackles break (highly unlikely), I have a set of thumbcuffs for my close-up act I can substitute. Illusion planning.
*9: The cruise director has the authority to shorten the length of your show to best serve the passengers and itinerary of the ship. If you are planning on doing a 30 minute show with all illusions, all taped on cassette, what happens to your music if the cruise director asks you to only do 15 minutes? For this reason, if at all possible, get the music on score sheets so it can be played by the band on board. This has a two fold advantage: A: They can delete music easier if your show is shortened. B: They can "vamp", or keep playing a certain piece over and over again if you get behind for some reason. If you have the music on tape and you would like to get it transferred to sheet music, talk with one of the band members on board. One of them can usually do it for a surprisingly low fee. The main illusion I like to do on ships is, of course, the Sub Trunk. It is virtually angle proof, entertaining, visible, can be safely performed even in rough weather, requires no livestock, is easy to ship and assemble, doesn't require special tools for assembly or repair and uses only one assistant. The routine I do is the same one found in my "Drive 'Em Nuts!" lecture notes, only slightly re-worked to use one assistant. I make it a point to ask passengers (when they come up and tell me how much they enjoyed the show) which trick they liked best. They always say the Sub Trunk. Whether it really was their favorite or the only one they remember doesn't matter to me. At least they remembered it! Have an act together and spice it up with an illusion or two. Of course you can do as many as you want, and if you do only one it doesn't have to be the Sub Trunk, but keep these things in mind. I've mentioned them several times during the course of this chapter, but what the heck, I've a few more minutes before the dinner gong sounds, so I'll repeat myself. I've a few more minutes before the dinner gong sounds, so ¡'11 repeat myself. (That's a little joke there, in case you didn't catch it.) Keep any illusions you're considering for ships'entertaining, portable, safe, angle proof, and visible. Happy Cruising!
P S if you are doing a Sub Trunk or a Zig Zag, you won't have to worry about the trick being exposed when Customs'officials search through the crate looking for contraband. I wonder what would happen if they decided to do a thorough search and came across the feet, crotch and bust of a woman for the Mismade Girl! Reminds me of Mike Caveney's three handed juggling routine with sawn off arms
For three seasons "Schroeder" has managed our western styled magic show and Bill Baldwin is new this season managing and assisting in Merlin's Broom Suspension in our "Fantasy Follies" show. Here are some ideas from both of them...
"Always try to buy casters for your illusions that unbolt from the main frame. That way on down the line, you can unbolt the wheel part and remove, hairs, threads and debris that accumulates around the center shaft and slows your casters (and prop spinning) down."
"The Broom Suspension is the best trick in our show but once I noticed that I didn't hear the familiar 'click' when she went up and I wasn't sure that she was locked in the top position at the climax of the illusion. If this happens to you, it's a simple matter to remove the plate that conceals the firing pin and replace the spring that is probably worn out. With a new, tense spring the pin will fire into the ratchet every time and once again your girl can feel safe and you can hear that familiar and reassurring 'click'".
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