I don’t care how you cut it, but working outdoors is a tricky thing. You have all the variables working against you, yet you need to still look good to your audience. How do you do this successfully? Hopefully I can give you some answers, or at least get you thinking about your outdoor work.
First thing that you must cope with is the noise factor. I always ask where the show location will be in relationship to other activities. If it’s at a festival or fair they often put the stage area close to rides or other noisy things. I once had them put me next to a tractor pull and everytime I opened my mouth, the tractors would roar and I couldn’t even hear myself, let alone the audience hear anything. My advice..see if you can get your sponsor to put you in a more quiet place, or at least at a time where you don’t have to compete with loud interruptions.
Next on my list is seating. For a vent act to go over you need some sort of seating so you can hold the audience’s attention (and also make your audience comfortable). If the sponsor has no seating, or hasn’t thought about it, see if you can get some folding chairs to be brought in, or a bleacher section of seating brought to the area. A stage area with no seating is like a car with no steering wheel. It goes but not well. Remember, you are an act, not an activity. People milling around will not help your show cause.
Another thing I ask about is covering for my audience and myself. No one likes to sit and watch something in broad daylight when it’s really hot outside and no shade. See if they have a spot that has some sort of a covering or shade at least. Your audience will thank you for it.
In my next column will go into more things you should think about when performing outdoors. It can be done, but you must control as many of the variables as you possibly can to be successful!!