We all have had to come to terms with this anomaly that entered our world. I’m talking about COVID-19 a.k.a Coronavirus.
When lockdown began I didn’t want to believe what was actually happening.
All my bookings were immediately cancelled. (About 3,000 pounds in total). The prospect of any future ones put on hold for the foreseeable.
In the beginning I crumbled. I couldn’t face the prospect of not doing the one thing I love whilst this virus swept the world. Staying in my bedroom was consuming all my happiness. A ticking time bomb ready to go off at any second. And I did! I was emotional, cried, was angry and sad. A whole spectrum of emotions flooded in.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. But the one most responsive to change.”Charles Darwin, 1809.
In the beginning I was not ready for change. I convinced myself that magic is a live medium. It could never work any other way, right?
After 2 weeks of misery, a customer got in touch. She asked the question I was avoiding answering.
“Hello we have seen some groups offering performances for their families online. As the FizzWizzPop show is so interactive, could you perform a show online for our group?”
I froze on the spot. And what came out in response was complete and utter honesty.
“I don’t see any reason why I cannot perform for you. I must admit I’ve never done that before. I agree with you that my show is interactive enough to hold the attention of an audience on screen. But… (and there was a big but) I cannot offer you this service for free. There must be some sort of fee because well, I’ve lost everything with the virus and I have no work for the foreseeable and if you want me to perform I have to be paid something, I’m so sorry to have to ask for this at this time.”
Even though I knew that other companies were offering free activities. Right now, I couldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I do think there are certain projects that you should perform for free. Like helping family, colleagues in the business, charities, people who are in need of some cheering up.
Should we give everything away?
If everything becomes a free for all for the public like music, magic, songs, dance classes where does it lead? What tone does this set when things get back to normal? I think in a way it devalues our art if everything becomes complimentary.
If you decide to offer activities free to help when does that stop? Perhaps there should be a period of time you offer free stuff.
We must remember to support ourselves too. Balance here is key!
“You have got to fill a pocket or two.”
When I started out my business in magic I performed at loads of events, for free. It got to a point where people began to take advantage of my generosity. I even performed at a charity event that in the end turned out to be a regular family get together.
I had to set a policy that I would only offer a free charity performance once a year. And it was my decision what I supported and when.
Things then changed for the better. Not only did I gain lots from performing at these free events, I met likeminded people and learnt stuff too. I believe it’s important that you get something out of offering things for free. Whether that’s just a feeling of helpfulness. Using the experience to try out a new routine or making connections for future events.
Back to the customer
Not only did this customer wish to pay for my services. She actively wanted to continue to support facilitators during this time. Finishing the call she agreed to pay me £30 more than I asked for.
Before that phone call, I had literally given up all hope of working again.
A day later I was asked to perform Magic for a zoom birthday party.
Changing Rooms – Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen have at it!
As my first party was a kids show, I wanted to use my FizzWizzPop backdrop. Thankfully it fit in my bedroom. I chose effects that were really interactive. Colour changes, numbers tricks and a game with a magical ending. I agreed with the customer that it was best that she set up the meeting on Zoom. On the day, I agreed not to login until all the party guests were online.
Then FizzWizzPop’s face would hit the big screen. A magical entrance if there ever was one!
It took me a full hour to prepare for this show. I had all the tricks set up on my bed ready to go and easy to access. To my surprise is was not only a success, the show made people laugh and smile LOTS! The mums and dads in each household sat and watched with their kids. Even granny and grandad got involved. It felt like something everyone needed. In a way, it felt like we were together in the same room.
Don’t forget to make a wish!
Prior to the zoom session I thought it might be nice for everyone to sing happy birthday together. And for the cake be brought out to the birthday child. The mum and dad were delighted with this idea. I verbally warned the parents that I was on my last trick. And as I finished the effect, the cake came out, we sang the song and FizzWizzPop said her goodbyes.
Zoom has opened up collective thinking!
In just the space of two weeks I have not only performed shows as FizzWizzPop. I presented a Magic workshop with Clare The Party Professor another fab entertainer based in Northern Ireland. I never normally get the chance to work with her because we are both so busy.
Now we can put our skills together creating something unique for children to enjoy.
Prohibition or Pandemic… nothing stops Chicago Magic!
The most recent collaboration I have joined is performing with the amazing team at The Chicago Magic Lounge. A place I actual performed at last July 2019. What a joy it was!
When they were shut down, Joey, Cynthia and the team decided that they needed to continue supporting their staff. That people out there needed magic more than ever.
The result of this is that they are keeping Chicago Magic going by creating a unique Virtual Cocktail Hour!
All guests can buy tickets and experience what they would at the real lounge, on screen. Four top class magicians, a cocktail class and discovering the history of magic in Chicago.
I am grateful that the Chicago Magic Lounge wanted to collaborate with me. I feel like part of an amazing family.
After my first show alongside Luis Carreon, The Amazing Bibik and Justin Purcell a guest commented,
“I was able to sign up myself, my parents in Florida and my sisters in TN and FL for the show tonight – we loved it and wanted to say thank you. My mom said she felt like she was actually with other people.”
In the space of just one week my attitude to this horrible situation was turned upside down.
Remember if you must go through a path with puddles. Make sure you jump, splash and enjoy creating chaos along the way!