"The wise adapt themselves to circumstances as water molds itself to the pitcher." -- Chinese Proverb
During the 2010 Clown Camp Singapore program I appeared in a variety of shows and had to adapt my performances to changing circumstances.
I preformed the pre-show for the Staff on Stage benefit show that opened Clown Camp. One of the groups of invited guests were delayed in traffic, so Knik Pang, producer of the show, requested that I extend my performance and continue longer than initially planned. Since I had plenty of material with me, I performed some additional routines keeping the audience entertained while they waited for the show to start.
I performed a fifteen-minute routine during the actual show. I knew that several of the acts would include juggling so I did more magic and less juggling than my act normally includes. Because we were working without an act curtain I figured out how to make it as easy as possible to move my props on and off.
Brenda Ahern and I performed a show at one of the local schools. We arrived before the kids so we could take our time setting up our props. Since we both set our props before the show started I figured out where to place mine so they were not in Brenda's way while she performed the first half of the show. I was prepared to do a half-hour in that show. However, the principal told us that we had to end by a specific time due to the school bus schedule. I kept my eye on the clock, shortened my act to 23 minutes, and we ended two minutes before our deadline.
Open Sesame (Rone & Gigi) and I performed a show at a different school. We were each prepared to perform thirty-minute acts. However, the students at the school had special needs and there was concern that they couldn't sit for an hour-long show. So the decision was made to shorten our acts to 25 minutes so there would be time for the students who saw my show to exit while another group entered for the Open Sesame show. (Clowns doing strolling performing entertained the students who weren't watching the stage show.) The audience was slow in entering for my show. The principal didn't want my show to be shortened any further so I noted the time when I began and performed for 25 minutes from that point. Because the audience for my show was engaged with my entertainment for the entire time, the decision was made to let them remain for the second show. So while the additional kids entered, we quickly cleared my props from the stage, set the props for Open Sesame, and the show continued.
While in Singapore, I was part of a group that visited a hospital for women and children. I was prepared to go room-to-room interacting with small groups. However, the wards that we visited were set up a little differently than I expected. The rooms were clustered around the nurse's station and a large open area. I found that nurses, patients, and visitors flocked around me in the common area. So, I adjusted my performance to entertain more people at once while other clowns did the more intimate room-to-room entertaining.
When you perform, how can you adapt what you do to the circumstances? How can you vary the length of your act to fit different time constraints? What can you adjust to account for different sized audiences? When you work with other acts in a show what changes do you need to make so there is not too much similarity in material? What changes can you make to allow others in a show to do their best without compromising your own performance?