The Expendables

The average magic act has expendables coming out the wazoo. Things like mouth coils, flash paper, rope, cards, confetti, paper pads, fruit, hat tears, newspaper, sharpies, pens, pencils, (bent) cutlery, milk, paper cones, wax, lunch bags, snowstorms, etc. are all expendable items that take their toll on the environment and our pocket books.
In my attempt to 'go green' I have had to rethink the necessity of some of the expendables in my act. The recession has also been another factor in reconsidering the investment in things that will be inevitably be trashed after a single performance.
Question your expendables:
1. Can this thing be reused?
2. Can this expendable be replaced with a reusable?
3. Do I need to continue to perform this effect/routine?
Be honest and ask yourself if you want add anything to your act that has an expendable involved? Is it cost effective? Is it good to the world we share? Is it sending a good message to our audiences and clients?
Consider the expendables.


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  • Fourteen years of performing on the street led me to rethinking many expendables. It was extra stuff to carry and when your stage is two 4×4 boxes 18 inches high. That meant I also had to design a table that carried my stuff and kept it out of sight until I reached in the drawer and brought it out. I learned the first week or two that digging in a salesman’s case for my props was distracting and basically it shouldn’t be seen cause that made the people wonder what that thing was and get distracted. It took a while to grt comfortable with a crowd that could wrap around you. Learned the best ways to handle angles and I would kid with the ones who wanted to stand behind me. I would tell them, you can stand behind me if you want but you will miss most of the action since I don’t use tricks that can be figured out like that. It didn’t take long before they came to the front.Plus realizing the props were inside my table getting behind me didn’t afford getting a sneak peek at seeing something. All my effects were angle proof, many came from my close up act and I just remade the props in a larger size for visibility. Another advantage is doing the stuff four times a night, you learned the effect to where you could focus more on the audience since the effects were second nature. I did have extras that I could switch in depending on the crowd reaction as I got going, that came from a tip from Michael Finney he said he opened with the six card repeat to read the audience and went from there to make adjustments to the line up.

    Jack Shea

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