Archive for October, 2016

Bummer – When the Gig Doesn’t Go

Most inquiries never get past the initial request for information – folks are positively gobsmacked to discover that you can’t get a 10 person 30 minute circus show for $1000 on Christmas. If we get past the sticker shock, and they’re still interested, now comes All The Questions – can we rig there? How much space will we really have? Can we do it over a pool filled with sharks? This stage can take weeks. I’m not going to lie – it can be le poo (like fifteen-conference-calls-a-week-and-CAD-drawings-rendered le poo). BUT – if their wishes and our magic line up, we get….

THE CONTRACT PHASE.

Before the contract is signed and the deposit received? No gig is foolproof. We had one fold just today that I’ve been working HARD on for months because of an un-forseeable family emergency. Le. Poo.

What Does that Mean to Us As Performers?

It can be a delicate dance, because no one wants to miss out on work; here are a few tips to hopefully make things easier.

  1. Hold the date. If someone asks you to hold a free date, pop a note in your calendar with a question mark.
  2. First refusal. So – you’re holding a date, but get another inquiry. What to do? Be transparent. Tell the first person that you have another show or company asking after the date, and give them the right of first refusal. If they are not going to be ready to go to contract within a day or two, you may have to go with offer number two. It’s not personal – we know that, and we want you to WORK! Often, it comes down to whoever produces a guarantee first.
  3. It’s an official go! When you hear those words, you should see a contract within a few days. HOORAY!
  4. It’s a bust. Sometimes, sh*t happens and it doesn’t go – even if a crazy amount of prep has already happened. When you get the news as an artist, be sure to acknowledge it with a quick email response like, “Oh no! How disappointing. Thanks for letting me know,  looking forward to working with you in the future.” Radio silence can sometimes come off as peevish, and doesn’t give a nod to the butt-busting work that planner or agent did (for free) on your behalf.

Events aren’t an exact science, because PEOPLE. Do be gracious, and understand that there are a huge number of moving parts to every event which we don’t control. Now, go forth and WORK! Dare to imagine, Laura

Two-Faced: Your Performance Persona vs YOU, and How Simple Boundaries Help

October 18, 2016 Comments Off on Two-Faced: Your Performance Persona vs YOU, and How Simple Boundaries Help Uncategorized

signing-autographsIt’s a weird thing that we navigate as performers – the disconnect between the zany or glamorous persona we present on stage, and the real us that our friends and families know. I’m often approached, in person and online, by people who have clearly mistaken me for my stage or “e-self”, and it can get really weird! I had an interesting chat with a young artist who’s enjoying his “15 seconds” this past week, and it occurred to me that we don’t often talk about this. Allow me.

People make a lot of assumptions about us, don’t they? Many a lust-crazed swain, or fan who wants to get a little closer, seem to think we’re either wild and crazy daredevils with a propensity for making the beast with two backs on our trapezes, or austere performance athletes who work out twelve hours a day and subsist on lettuce leaves and moon beams. Where do they get this stuff?

Thing is, when that phony tail, lashes, WonderBra, and two pairs of Spanx come off (it’s a process), I’m a shy, frightfully risk-averse person with huge dreams and a hefty dose of (charming?) neurosis. I hate working out, swear like a sailor, and swill wine right from the bottle. The bedazzled glamazon in a sparkly unitard who smiles for two hours straight or smolders on a silk isn’t real – she dissolves with some cold cream and a pair of sweatpants.

What is real is the odd hotel key card pressed into your hand, offers of drinks, easy access via social media, folks who hope a little of your shine will rub off on them – lots of people who imagine you to be someone rather different than you are. How do we navigate this, particularly in the realm of social media?

Boundaries, Yo.

The boundaries you set depend quite a bit on where you’re feeling uncomfortable or squeezed. This next bit scratches the surface, but I think you’ll get the idea.

Setting boundaries becomes more important (and more difficult) when we factor in the easy access afforded by the internet. Any weenie with a modem can track you down. What to do?

  • Stick with la famiglia. Our fellow circus folks generally don’t give a flying flip what we do (hell, I’m lucky if they don’t roll their eyes when I reveal my apparatus). Instead, there’s generally a mutual appreciation, oodles of commiseration, and only sometimes a little fan-girling (I made a complete idiot of myself when I met Isabelle Chasse). My point is, they get you, probably don’t want anything from you, they know what you do, and they don’t have stars in their eyes when you meet. We’re family.
  • pre-show-interviewEstablish your personal “rules” for friending and connecting. For me, it looks like this:
    • Are they in the biz? Circus performance, production, management, etc? This is an easy yes – I’ve gotten more work than I can say through professional contacts and friendships which started online. I’ve gotten connected with some of the BEST people, whom I might not have met otherwise, and some have become dear and close friends. Love that.
    • Do we have at least 10 friends in common? If not, I sometimes direct them to my FB page (see below).
    • Are they family, friends, or folks from my past? If you didn’t torture me in grade school, you’re probably in. If you did, look at me now, bitch! Ahem.
  • Create an FB business page and funnel people who don’t “make the cut” over there. This allows them to keep in touch, but creates a bit of a boundary which can discourage over-familiarity with fans or audience members.
  • Decide on your personal policies for dispensing advice, meeting with people who want to “pick your brain”, etc. Like it or not, there are only 24 hours a day – you can’t do it all. If responding to requests for guidance, info, or opinion are taking up a fair amount of time, that’s time you aren’t spending hustling.

At the end of the day, it’s a super personal call. Some of us fly under the radar, some are super social and delighted to message with virtual strangers until dawn, while others find themselves weeding out that friend list on a weekly basis. Do what feels right! We want to be surrounded, both physically and virtually, with *our* people – folks who like and love us, know and appreciate who we really are, and fuel the fire of our dreams instead of siphoning off our energy. Good fences make for good neighbors. Dare to imagine, Laura

So, You Say You Want to Work in Showbiz? Up Your Hustle!

October 4, 2016 Comments Off on So, You Say You Want to Work in Showbiz? Up Your Hustle! Working in Circus

This past week, I had an interesting experience – one that I’ve had surprisingly often in the circus community. I had an event that I needed to cast with lightening speed, so I put the word out on social media, and got several fantastic leads. Within 30 seconds, one artist had sent me 5 photos and a video, and three more performers contacted me over the course of the hour. These artists are all pros, and they WORK – constantly. But here’s the funny bit – some folks didn’t get around to replying for days. DAYS. Friends, by that time, the ship has sailed – the money is off the table. That’s the most depressing situation for everyone involved! And it doesn’t have to be that way! New York City circus artists, it might be time to up your hustle.

Don’t Leave Work on the Table

As it turns out, the “lightening speed” was a bit premature (the client decided to play with the line-up for the evening), but here’s the take away: the artist who hustles gets the most work.

What IS hustle? Hustle is, well, it’s a hunger – a way of being in the professional world. It’s getting back to people immediately with materials or availability, following up on leads, and remembering that inquiries are, hopefully, the beginnings of supportive and exciting long-term working relationships. It’s showing people what they can expect from you professionally – prompt communications, reliability (doing what you say you will do, providing what you say you will provide), and showing respect for another person’s work, time, and investment in whatever endeavor is casting. It also makes the casting person’s job WAY easier, and gratitude often results in good things for everyone.

Silence Speaks – and You’re Not Going to Like What it Says About You

When I was a young actress in NYC, I cannot even tell you the opportunities I let slip through my fingers; it’s simultaneously mortifying and tragic. Once, I had one of NYC’s top agents asking me for more headshots so she could send them out, and I procrastinated. I sent them a few weeks later, but the fire had cooled – I never heard from her again. I’m not in any way sad about where I’ve wound up, in fact, you could say my procrastination was speaking loud and clear about how much I wanted a career in theater (as it turns out, circus was a way better fit); but, if you want circus, and you know you do, you may have a bit to learn about professional standards on the production side.

But I’m BUSY!

Are you too busy to provide a full answer at the moment? There are lots of ways to handle that which don’t involve radio silence. Working a lot and don’t feel any urgency to respond? Great, but sometimes famine follows feasting for artists. Not interested in the project? You might be very interested in the next one, so preserve the relationship. Not a “slave to technology”? M’kay, but accept that you’re going to miss out on work because of it.

Dare to imagine, Laura