You’ve put thought into your show.
You know your script.
You know what puppets you are going to use.
You’ve determined what props you need.
Chances are you’ve purchased a trunk.
And you’ve practiced your show.
Have you given any thought to how you will load in your props at the show venue?
Or how you will remove them when you finish?
If you only have a suitcase, it won’t be a problem. But if you carry more, it can be a bit more challenging.
When I am working a corporate event, everything is there. If the client followed the rider, there is suitable sound, lighting, staging and a tray jack stand for my case. All I do is carry in my Porter case.
(A Porter Case is a carry-on piece of luggage that turns into a cart. It is very handy for moving through airports with multiple suitcases.)
The problem comes when I work other types of shows.
School shows, smaller corporate events, civic organizations, etc. – don’t have my rider requirements. There I need to provide sound and lights, and backdrop and, well, more than I prefer to carry.
I have everything because I grew up with these types of shows. You had to bring in everything or you went without.
So now you have your case (or more than one if you have a bunch of puppets.) You have your sound system. You’ll need cords for the sound system, mic cords, speaker cords, electric cords, patch cords for music, etc. What about stands for the speakers? They should be elevated to provide the best sound coverage.
Have lights? You’ll have light cases, light stands and more cords to plug them in.
So now you have a bunch of stuff to haul in.
Making multiple trips is a possibility. But that will get you hot in the summer, cold in the winter, wet when it rains or snows … you get the idea.
Plus, in shopping malls and other public venues, I would worry about leaving cases or any equipment on the stage.
Especially when no one is looking.
And that person you asked to watch the stage? Not security. Chances are they are looking at their phone when your puppets walk away.
I prefer to try and do everything in one trip. This way I am with my equipment at all times.
I never pull up to the venue doors anymore.
I park as close as possible, put everything on my cart and wheel it in. That way I don’t have to go back and move the car. And after things are over, I don’t have to leave my equipment to pull the car up.
So what do I use?
I use a Telescoping Multi-cart/Platform Cart. It folds up easily, although it does take up some space in the car.
But it is perfect for my needs.
When I am doing a smaller show with one speaker, I just unfold the cart handles, set on my case, speaker, poles and backpack, and I am ready to roll in.
For larger shows, the cart telescopes out to create a larger platform. I can set on two cases, two speakers, my tray jack stand, my backdrop, extra electric cord reel and anything else I may want to take in. I also bring some bungee cords so I can secure anything that may want to fall.
This cart really makes my load in/load out so much easier.
Another thing to think about when loading in equipment, is the event itself.
What time do they start?
I hate to load in when guests are there. I’d rather arrive early, take my time setting up and be ready before anyone arrives.
I realize for some that may not be an option, but it is a professional courtesy to the client. Plus you won’t have two hundred sets of eyes judging you before you even begin.*
*Jay Johnson said in the Discussions On Showmanship course, that once the audience knows you are the entertainer, they will form an opinion even if you haven’t gone on stage yet.
Likewise, I try to find an easy way to pack discreetly and get out through a back entrance if possible. If I can’t, I’ll be packing when the waitresses are clearing the tables.
So put some thought into your load in/out.
You will be glad you did.