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Setting Up A Stage Hypnosis Show


Stage hypnotism is a great way of promoting your business and above all else it can be a really fun way of demonstrating hypnotic phenomena. It's also a great form of alternative entertainment and most of the venues we've approached have been interested in putting a night on.

Here we share some of the things that you may need to set up a hypnosis show

Venue

If you're just starting out and you're looking to perform your first show, finding a good venue is key to having a good show. It helps if the hypnosis show is in a separate room because the venue owner (or you) can sell tickets to the event and the people that attend have invested in the night so they are less likely to heckle or be obstructive however, it's not a deal breaker if it's not.

We'd recommend finding a venue that has good transport links and preferably one that has a decent customer base to begin with because it will make it easier for you or the owner to sell tickets to the night. Other bonuses would be a decent stage, lighting and sound system provided by the venue but, these aren't always available.

If you've been performing for some time you may be asked to perform either by an agency or by the venue itself.

Of course, if you're booked to perform at a venue you have little choice as to whether it's a good venue however, you can do all you can to set up the night so that it has the best chance of going well.

Get to the venue early so that you can set up the evening and talk to the staff/punters. You can already be building an interest in the show and finding out who is likely volunteer.

Some performers that are booked in this way don't see setting up the venue as being part of their job. We believe that you're paid to put on a show and it's your job to put yourself in a position where the show can go as well as possible. From my years as a comic I've in the past, switched chairs around in the room and set lighting in a different position which has made a room that may have been difficult, playable.

Remember no matter how crap the sound was or, whether there was a wall blocking the view to the stage that could have been avoided by switching your position in the audiences eyes the performer is always seen as the failure.

Having a good night at a venue also means that you're more likely to get repeat bookings or bookings for other shows because you never know who's sitting in the audience so why wouldn't you want to give yourself a chance?

I remember doing an awful charity gig a couple of years back only to be contacted by someone in charge of corporate events at the MK Dons a few days later who'd been sitting in that audience. My advice is always bring your A game.

Advertise, advertise, advertise

If you're running your own night it's important that you advertise your night. A night with no punters isn't a night. At the very least you should get some posters designed and printed and drop them off at the venue. A3 and A4 are OK and something that's going to draw people's attention in. Below is a poster we used to use for our shows which had a blank space at the bottom that could be adjusted for each venue. This meant that we didn't need to keep paying for the poster to be altered however, if you're handy with photoshop you may be able to create your own.

Other places to advertise that are free are listings in your local papers, skiddle, eventsi & Facebook events and if you have a website you could also add events to that to let your fans know when you're next performing near them.

You could also contact the editor of the events section in your local paper because they're often looking to fill the space and you have the added advantage of offering a different form of entertainment.

When I used to run a comedy night I employed the above method and I used to get a full page spread in the local paper by offering an interview with the head liner. It was a great bit of advertising for the club at no cost whatsoever.

If it's your own night that you're running you could also place advertisements in local shops in exchange for some free tickets.

Another great way of promoting your night is to get out and perform some street hypnosis either in the venue you're going to be performing in or some other venues nearby, if you get some phenomena going in one place it definitely builds interest which may turn into punters on the night.

Equipment

So you've set up your venue or you have a show booked and it's advertised but you don't have any equipment. Some performers believe that the equipment should be provided by the venue which to an extent is true however, it's not always workable.

I like to think of a performer with no equipment being similar to a plumber turning up to your house without tools. I'm also of the opinion that if you need it, you should bring it. This again came from my years performing as a musical comic. There were countless times that I arrived at a venue after asking whether they had a PA system only to find that they either didn't have one or that they had one that sounded terrible.

I decided from then on that I'd always carry some equipment with me because even if I didn't need it, it was always there 'just in case.' Also, rightly or wrongly, I got more opportunities as a comic when promoters found out that I had my own PA system because it was one less thing they had to worry about and I would get an increased fee for providing it. It probably also meant that the promoter was able to offer gigs to venues that otherwise may not have been interested.

The added advantage of offering a PA system is that you can charge this out to the potential venue as an optional extra.

Below is a list of the equipment that we'd recommend having if you're thinking of performing stage hypnosis.

1. A quality PA system suitable for small to medium sized rooms, comprising of 2 speakers, a mixer and all the leads to connect it up.

2. A good quality wireless microphone.

3. Speaker stands.

4. Extension leads (you don't want to have the above only to arrive at the venue and find out the nearest socket is 50ft away).

5. A couple of PAR Lighting cans (You could be the best hypnotist in the world but, it's pointless if they're unable to see your act).

PA System

I have a couple of PA systems that I use, which can be linked up to get a bigger sound. An active system (speakers with the amp built into them) is a good versatile system to start you off. I personally use TIBO 500W Active speakers which have 12" sub woofers in them and they do pack a punch.

The pair I have are similar to the one pictured and they have a number of outputs on the back including line in, line out, microphone in, SD card slot and a USB slot.

There are even PA systems on the market now that have wireless connectivity, I've not used them personally so I can't really comment here.

You may also wish to invest in a mixer for your PA system. That way you can connect multiple outlets in one place and have your speakers running from it as well. I have one similar to the one pictured. I can connect my microphone to it as well as any sound I may be running for skits/ pre-show and I can adjust the levels on each input and control the overall sound via the master controller.

I'd also recommend getting a good set of speaker stands. You can pick a decent pair up for about £30.00. Speaker stands help to project the sound out into the audience. As a general rule of thumb you want to set the stands so that the speakers are level with the heads of the audience to project the sound over them.

Spend what you can on your PA system. I paid about £500 for my speakers and mixer back in 2008 and I've used them for one thing or another almost every weekend for the last 7 years. Aside from a couple of damaged knobs they've been really reliable and a good PA system will serve you well.

Microphone

The microphone is probably one of the most important purchases you'll make. A poor quality microphone can make a good show bad. I'd invest in either a decent quality handheld microphone, a headset microphone or both.

I've used microphones that have suffered drop outs or interference like the one in this routine by Norman Collier. Although this was deliberate and very funny in this case it's a horrible thing to deal with mid show when you're not expecting it.

A good quality hand held microphone will be good to get you started. I purchased an ALTO radius 100 when I started performing stage hypnosis. It's a great quality microphone for around £150.00 (pictured below).

Lighting

Having good lighting can also improve the quality of your show. Although it's not necessary I'd invest in a couple of good LED par cans and a lighting tripod. There's nothing worse than having a great show that no one was able to see.

Remember if you provide your equipment to a venue it should be PAT tested and it's also a good idea to carry a risk assessment and method statement. If you'd like guidance on this I can provide you with a template or you can download one from the internet. I've been asked whether I have the aforementioned but, I've never actually been asked to see sight of it. Having said that it's like insurance you never need it until something goes wrong.

Insurance

Leading me onto my next point, insurance. It's a good idea to have public liability insurance and in particular a policy that covers stage hypnosis. It may be something that you never need to call upon however, it's better to have it and not need it than to not have it at all.

You can get cover from Equity, Blackfriars and I believe F.E.S.H. With Equity you get the added bonus of being part of their union which protects performers from venues and can be useful if you find yourself in a position where you've not been paid for a show.

Shop around for insurance policies that meet your needs and check the rules in your area as they may differ.

1952 Hypnotism Act

There is an act that regulates demonstrations of hypnotism in the UK. This varies from place to place, some councils require a permit for a performance of hypnosis and others charge a fee to cover a hypnosis performance so it's worth baring this in mind when you're planning on putting on a show and perhaps factoring this cost into the cost of your show.

The act is very antiquated and hasn't been updated since 1952. During that time there has been a lot of research around the subject of hypnosis and I'd like to think that our knowledge of the subject of hypnosis has moved on somewhat since the act was introduced.

You can view the act on the government website by following the link below:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6and1Eliz2/15-16/46

There are certain settings where the hypnotism act doesn't apply, feel free to contact us for further information regarding applications of this act.

It's Showtime!!

We'll be discussing the content of a show and building a show in a separate blog post and we'll be including the template that we use in our shows to help you build an entertaining and exciting show.

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