First impressions are so important. You only get one chance to make a first impression. I’ve heard this said so many times and to be honest I was not so sure that first impressions were all that important until this weekend. Let me back up a bit and I’ll explain.
This weekend I was the invited guest of the TMA, Taiwan Magic Association, for their annual magic convention. Several international guests from China, Japan, Germany, the USA and of course Canada were brought together to present a weekend of learning and sharing magic. Over the years I have participated, both as a registrant and as an honored guest, in many of these types of events. They are usually fun events and every once and awhile they are exceptional. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you will know that every once and awhile they are not well organized and the guest entertainers are treated less than stellar. Taiwan was fantastic!
I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to exit the luggage area at an airport and actually see a person waiting for you to arrive! I had barely stepped through the frosted doors of the customs hall when I heard my name being shouted. The man shouting was waving his arm and grinning from ear to ear and I was soon to learn this was Leonardo, my host and soon to be new friend in Taiwan.
I had to wrestled him so I could help move my luggage to an awaiting limo and we were off to the convention hotel. I had traveled a little more than 17 hours and was a bit tired to say the least. However upon arrival at the hotel Leonardo suggested we go for something to eat. Always one for a challenge, I said yes and we began a trek around the deserted streets of Sansia Township in search of a restaurant. Did I mention it was after midnight on a Friday? We found a small cafe that served hot pots and I was treated to a truly traditional style Taiwanese meal. When it came time to leave I was not really looking forward to the miles of walking we had done to find the place and was pleasantly surprised to find Leonardo had called and woken a friend to drive over to pick us up and drop me off at the hotel! My first impression of next few days in Taiwan was also that positive. I guess the saying is true.
Over the next few days I did two lectures to standing room only crowds of several hundred eager magicians. Unlike North America where the age of the magician seems to be getting older, in Taiwan I don’t recall seeing many older magicians at all! In fact I would say the average age of the participant would be in their early twenties. These young magicians were excellent students and asked all the right questions. I was also pleasantly surprised to see how many actually spoke English! These kids got my jokes and by the end of the weekend everyone was saying “Easy”. In fact I dropped into the lecture of a friend and when he said the method to his effect was easy the crowd broke out in unison to scream back at him “Easy” which at first threw him off but then seeing me laughing in the back he quickly figured it out and went so far as to point me out in the back of the room.
That evening I was treated to second row center seats for the gala show and I was witness to some of the finest magicians of Asia. The next day came quickly as I didn’t get a lot of sleep. It’s at events like this when I get extra time to just sit and talk to special friends and this evening was lots of fun.
The next morning I slept in and unfortunately missed the close up magic contest. I was sad to have missed this as I love to cheer on competitors as I know exactly how they feel when they are facing an audience who is there to judge them and their magic. In the afternoon I spent my time with the technical staff of the theatre in preparation for the final gala show. There were a whole bunch of technical issues to solve but with the help of their excellent crew, Leonardo’s translation and the generosity of Lu Chen, an Asian magic celebrity, I was able to present the show I wanted to share.
I was in a unique spot in the show. Lu Chen, who would act as Master of Ceremonies for the event started the evening with a very clever dove and manipulation act. He then did a bit of talking to warm the crowd up so more and introduced me. I can’t tell you how great it was to walk on stage to a full theatre of screaming fans! To start I did my presentation of the cups and balls using my new video camera and a huge scree in the center of the stage. The reaction to the ending of the cups was unbelievable. It sounded like air rushing out of a room followed by a deafening round of applause. I next performed my version of the walking knot rope routine to the beautiful voice of Etta James. This too was followed by very loud applause. I closed with my signature routine, Shape of my Heart and although a large percentage of the crowd did not understand a word I had said during the show or what Sting was signing it was well received. OK, it was better than well received. The audience leapt to their feet and cheered, clapped and screamed and it seemed to last forever. I wasn’t quite done so I tried to get them to sit. I then ended my portion of the show by making the deck I had used magically go back to new deck order in a sealed box with the cellophane. The young lady, Mary, who had selected the card was given the deck and she opened it to reveal her card in the correct position inside the sealed box. I barely got to say thank you and good night in Chinese, when the crowd were once again on their feet going crazy with applause. I wish I could have stood on that stage all night … they were such a generous crowd.
Following the show the performers were lead to a signing table where I believe I signed over 300 posters and souvenir books. I could not even begin to guess how photographs were taken but lets just say sunglasses might have been a good idea!
So now that you have heard all the good news, here’s the bad.
First impressions really are important. You see way back in September I submitted an expression of interest for the lease of the Rainbow Theatre in Whistler with the hope of opening my own theatre and being able to be at home and still do what I love. From the moment I began the process I felt I was just spinning my wheels. My first impression was that the folks in charge would never see the whole picture as they have their own vision and focus for Whistler Resort. Well I was right. I lost the bid to have the theatre in favor of the folks who produce the Whistler Film Festival (which will be held December 4th to the 7th). Whistler Film Festival, would like to work with the Whistler Tourism Board to create Canada’s first digital theater. The board has decided to move forward with the digital theater concept as it allows for more flexibility in using the theater for their convention business, and will create the platform to expand into the film industry. While my concept would certainly enhance the family offering, they feel that the digital theater partnership is better aligned with the long range strategies of the conference center and the resort.
So with those few words I lose a dream …