Pageant Wagons

Le ballet comique

Le ballet comique de la reine Louise. Performed in and around The Louvre in 1581.

In the first intermède three sirens and a triton appear, a sparkling wagon with a fountain with around it 12 naiads who later on perform a ballet. After that Mercury comes down on a cloud. In the second intermède we see 8 satyrs entering while making music, and after them again an amazing wagon with a forest on it in which we see 4 dryads sitting in a circle……

If you want to see something amazing check the internet about this spectacle….

Traveling Theatres

Hundreds of years ago there were theatre companies travelling from village to village to amaze people and earn a decent living with their grand scale performances. The most spectacular shows were performed from special wagons. Decors could collapse in the floor, while others could be moved out of other props.

It was a constant moving and changing décor. But since they travelled with more than one wagon the show also moved from one stage to another. The audience could remain seated, while the company simply rolled on the next thing on wheels.


They even had several wagons combined to form one giant stage that they even could turn around to create a new world. And the (paying) audience could sit on a scaffold that was brought along.


Pageant Wagons

These theatrical moving objects were called pageant wagons. They were moved through the streets while the audience stayed in one place – like parade floats. The term “pageant” is used to refer to the stage, the play itself, and the spectacle.

It was quite a spectacle by itself seeing them travel….

Plays were performed in sequence, so sometimes each play was performed several times at the same time. They simply moved to the next group of audience. The big parades that we see nowadays are basically the modern version of pagean wagon theatre plays.


Today you can see the principle of the pageant wagons in many of the Disney Parades.

And in parades like the biggest flower parade in the world, the dahlia corso in Zundert, Holland.

Several themepark still have shows based on parades. Most stuntshows are using this principle.

The Royne Theatre

What if you would go back to the garden of The Louvre? What if you just put a scaffold in your amusement park and let the show  simply move along. You could even use backdrops or a screen on the back. If you made a couple of large moving platforms or put all the decors and props on wheels, you could perform a show in the way of a parade. You could have ten, even twenty different parades at one day. No changing of your theatre. Just a new platform on wheels….

I thought a little bit about such a theatre and came up with this very simple 3D plan, only to give an idea of what I have in mind. The platforms can be stalled in the building that also forms the background of the place. The platforms can move forward through a large sliding door or rolled on from either side. You can have a roof over it. And also close the sides with sliding doors. If it’s a moving roof you can even do the most amazing pyrotechnics stuff.
When you have a relatively small amusement park this can be a perfect alternative for a complete theatre. You can have small shows with no platforms at all. For instance a kids show of clowns that bring  their own props. And up to a grand scale musical with 10 platforms, extra props, lighting and backgrounds on a large projection screen. All it takes is a creative mind to take it away….

Want to know more? Want to discuss this subject?


The history: entertainment on the water

Parades have not been strictly on land, there have been numerous parades on water. Floats have been really that: large objects floating on water.


Several operas have been performed on the water, with lots of gigantic moving props.

Large attraction companies like Disney have combined pageant wagons and waterfloats in some of their watershows like Mythica in their Tokyo Disney Sea park.

And now there are already water arenas where you can even watch sportsgames on floating fields while the tribunes for the audiences are on land.


Stagefloats are the next generation of waterfloats. They are large platforms that can move around freely on the water. They have a large below waterlevel segment with movable platforms that can rise objects and scenery above the water level. This segment can be filled with water, or with heavy smoke, or with nothing because when not lit no one will even notice it in the dark of night.  They are like moving stages with a large downstage area from which everything can ascend and descend. Lighting can easily be attached to the float, just like all pyrotechnics and fountains. It gives totall freedom of what happens on the water, just like on a real stage. But these floats can move around freely, so that a scene begin on stage right and end stage left. The actors can walk from one float to another…. The options are endless. With stagefloats you don’t need any fixed waterstages, or stages that move around mechanically. No difficulties with lighting and special effects. This is the perfect solution for any watershow!




Contact Erik Visser via:

The Township Model for future Themeparks

Development of Theme Park Real Estate and the future of theme park designing.


Walt Disney had a dream. He wanted to contribute solutions to the problems that pressed the urban society of North America. He envisioned a perfect woth, with an atmosphere of a better life than the one lived in conventional suburban developments, but also better than that of similar developments of closed communities that have proliferated. Calm streets lined with trees, free of advertising hoardings, bicycles without padlocks, vast areas of open spaces in the form of parks, communal buildings, squares and Neighbourough Electric Vehicles to get around the neighbourhood.

This became His EPCOT: Epcot (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow) was to be the materialization of this initiative: a community of some 20,000 people that was completely regulated, with infrastructures controlled by a central system and strict codes of conduct. In his last promotional film produced before his death, he described Epcot as ‘a new model of a city which could influence the shape of urban life in the future’.

Part of the technology that Disney would have required to materialize its plan was not yet available at the end of the 1960s or it was too expensive.

The death of Walt Disney meant that the plans for Epcot were totally reconsidered and that the project was carried out in the easiest way for the company: a theme park.


In the 1980s the company embarked on an important process of diversification and wished to take advantage if its experience in the design of spaces, the management of groups, transport and entertainment. It is in this context that the development projects for hotels, resorts, malls and office buildings on the property in Orlando multiplied, with the Disney Development Company being created specifically for this purpose.

As of the 1980s the Disney Company became committed to projects that were not directly linked to its existing parks and gained experience in the real world. It developed consultancy projects like the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Gen Autry Western Heritage Museum in Los Angeles, and advised cities as Long Beach, Seattle and Anaheim. Disney offered knowledge and know-how on matters such as theming, merchandising, traffic and the management of the masses.


In this context, Michael Eisner took up Disney’s idea of creating a community, though taking another look at its bases. This was Celebration: a city of 20,000 residents designed in 1988 in accordance with the principles of traditional urbanism.

A pedestrian town with a coherent structure of streets and squares with no fences. It is not a closed community like those that are distorting urban revitalization in the USA. There is no corporate police. There are, on the other hand, mixed uses of space and of buildings, for example apartments over the shops in Main Street.

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Celebration was the materialization of the aesthetic and ethical idea of what a city should be like according to Disney ideology.

The question is whether Celebration is a model for urban renovation schools such as New Urbanism would have it, or whethere it represents the failure of real urban America.

Celebration is a reanimation of the ideal American suburb in a form that never existed anywhere but strikes everybody as familiar.

Celebration aims to rediscover the civic life of 50 years ago. Thus, funcional activities such as garages are located behind houses. The fronts are meeting places, for riding a bicycle or for walking. Computerized systems make the homes ‘smart’. customized presence of technology, a certain type of atmosphere and specific formats of the houses.

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For Disney a town is not just its structure and design, but also the relationships that are established among its citizens and with its institutions.

It is a completely controlled, private urban community, conceived on the basis of values like the family and enterprise with an absence of problems of ethnic and class differences.

But towns need the presence of indigent poor as well as of physically and mentally unfortunate citizens in order to sustain instincts of decent humanity in everyone else, and how does a city behave when such factors are not designed in?

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The town worked while a lot of factors were kept out, but when the financial crises started to have an effect on Celebration as well, cracks appeared in the Disney bubble. More and more houses are not perfect maintained anymore. Lots of houses are empty, no one mowing the grasss every sunday…. Besides that the citizens want to have more value for what they can buy as well. Not only expensive shops and luxurious restaurants but also a place where you can eat fries and hamburgers. Slowly but steadily Celebration is recovering. But that is only because the people who life there make it work. They created projects for the less fortunate members of society and created shops and restaurants with more affordable products. The Disney society kept creating branded buildings and spaces that can be rent for high prices but the citizens just can’t or won’t pay the high prices that go with that for products that are a lot cheaper outside of town. So the Disney glamour has vanished and Celebration is now basically a town like any other, where people find their daily needs. But it still has the built in concepts of more communicating with neighbours and it is a more friendly city than most in the area. Plus it has some of the greatest theme parks nearby.

For Disney there were three reasons for the city:

1. The growing privatization of spaces which at the time were clearly in the public domain.

2. A growing watch over public spaces and controlled access in order to improve security.

3. The increasing use of designs that use simulations in theme park style and the rupture of connections with local history and geography.

The activities that used to take place in the public arena have shifted into private areas and have become a good for sale. Feasts, festivals, parades, ceremonies, sports and entertainment are better in private places than in that common cultural good, the public arena, an open space where people got together communicated and were committed in cultural matters.

Public space has changed from a meeting place, the heart of social life, into a highly regulated domain, where every individual demands safety and security.

Today it is private areas that put on sale the satisfaction of the private needs of leisure time. the places – squares and streets – have met a competitor; markets, malls, activity parks and theme parks.

You have to pay for the public life.

 Conclusions concerning the dynamics of privatization:

– It makes an officious urbanism policy possible.

– It facilitates political strategies of economic growth.

– It imposes development costs on the outside public.

– It reduces the capacity of the local public sector to plan growth.

– It causes contrary reactions when the problem of the management of growth becomes manifest.

– It gradually erodes power relations.

There are three characteristics that distinguish this new situation:

1. the disappearance of all stable relationships between things urban and the physical geography and local culture, the loss of specific links with the space.

2. The obsession with security and the proliferation of surveillance systems and segmentation.

3. the domination of simulations of the past as a replacement for the present and as a way of giving urban value to the new.

A nice example is Melaka in Malaysia. Since the 1980s the city was transformed from a political city to a new capital-intensive tourist destination. In the old days Melaka was known for its trade in mostly spices. Then government found the city and made it a policital capital. but after the politicians left the city went dead. This also threatened the historic heritage. so protection programmes were started and historic heritage went into museums. From the Malaysian state’s point of view the conservative status of historic landscapes limits their development potential and, in the era of mega development potential.

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And the development of theme park projects is also a strategy by which to engage in related property development schemes. Thus the largest-scale project, Baba Nonya Heritage Village, blends the leisure theme directly into a residential development and so blurs the distinction between home and tourism, substituting authentic landscapes of Melaka town with themed copies.

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The urbanism of parks generates new territorial identities. In spite of the lack of heritage, parks are concerned with proposing an identity via their narrative for the area they organize. They want to be spaces with content. Transferred to the rest of the area both in the creation of new places and as regards to the valorisation of pre-existing historical places.

In short, today’s practises of urban development and the preservation of heritage are applying the creative practise of the parks to the logic of the creation of places, because it is not just a question of the peripheral creation of malls or of resorts: it is also a question of the commercial reconversion of the historical centres.

The result is the creation of environments which, in spite of being supposedly real and having their identity, are scenographic inauthentic, though economically viable. There is a need to create identities that are adapted to the needs of visits.

Disney arrived in Seattle in order to advise as to the reconversion of the Seattle Center. This ageing civic and entertainment area had been built on the occasion of the 1962 universal exposition. Disney said they could help to reformulate the area. For this Disney designed a project which was to become its first and biggest incursion into town planning outside Disney property. Disney not only offered a proposal to redesign the landscape but also the development, financing and operations. Three years later, and following a promising start, Disney abandoned the project. There were two fundamental reasons:

– Disney’s inability to create designs for the Seattle Center that came into line with the residents’ wishes and needs.

– Disney’s apparent lack of willingness to remedy this situation by seeking the opinion, or taking it on board when offered, of local agents.

The Seattle Center was finally renovated without Disney. Its current configuration has incorporated the efforts of the numerous architects, planners, designer and other citizens the explicitly rejected the Disney project which did not manage to capture the local culture and suitably incorporated the ethnic diversity of the town’s social groups.

It seems distinctive of these dynamics that modernization, rather than constituting a straight path ahead, instead assumes a more complex form in which the global is tailored to the local and vice versa. In this way, rather than completely undermine and replace local cultures, identification is possible of a global trend towards staged and reconstructed authenticity, wherein traditional crafts, dances and etc. are artificially preserved and reconstructed.

While Southeast Asian theme parks may appear to be commercially viable and internationally appealing, and aking to the universal Disney product, they also communicate and respond to the various impulses of what is often construed as local.

The Township Model

China’s first theme park opened in the early 1990s, added to residential developments as a bonus — an extra attraction for the city’s new residents. “[Developers] had the idea of building a town, and decided to include a number of theme parks to anchor the development,” says Chris Yoshii, the global director of the consulting group AECOM. “That township model has caught on. It has been replicated in China and to some extent in South East Asia.”

The attraction of combining a residential and commercial development with a theme park, Yoshii says, has to do with the intensive capital requirements that come along with theme parks. Parks are attractive to local governments because they can attract tourism and encourage locals to spend their disposable income within the city. A successful park, however, requires infrastructure and a large initial investment. “A lot of the cities themselves don’t have money to invest themselves, but they do have land,” says Yoshii. To get their theme parks, cities will offer land to developers willing to include a theme park in their plan. This way, Yoshii says, “The city gets what they want without putting out much money. All they have to do is issue land approvals.”

In turn, a developer can include residential and commercial units in their theme park “township.” These aspects of the development offer a quicker return on investment. “They can use the residential element to pay for some of the infrastructure costs,” says Yoshii. “And at the end, you have a park that is generating a good return while some of the capital has already been paid back.”

While the majority of theme parks in China are built this way, the formula does not always produce stellar results. In some cases, developers have not delivered on their promise to develop a theme park and have focused instead on residential and commercial real estate alone. In others, the theme park is an afterthought –poorly put together, poorly maintained and poorly run.

“Surveys show that the majority of theme parks [in China] have been loss making,” points out Michel Brekelmans, the co-head of L.E.K. Consulting’s China operationsbased in Shanghai. Local governments will often offer land at a steep discount to developers who include a theme park in their plan. “Not surprisingly, many of these parks have been unsuccessful and leave visitors with a disappointing experience,” Brekelmans says.

China’s earliest parks were intended to present China to foreign tourists. These include the parks Splendid China and China Folk Cultural Village. Soon after, a park called Window of the World opened in Shenzhen, offering visitors a look at  theworld—the pyramids, the Eiffel Tower—on a small scale. China’s largest theme park chain, Happy Valley, opened its first park in the 1990s, offering a more Western-style format, introducing its own characters and dividing the park into different themed areas.

While Happy Valley has been successful and expanded, the majority of parks opening in China are either animal themed or loose adaptations of existing theme parks. According to Brekelmans, the majority of new parks will present visitors with an amalgamation of thrill rides, roller coasters and Ferris wheels. “More recently local operators are realizing that theming … is a key factor in marketing the park and creating the overall experience,” he says. “We’re seeing more attempts to come up with original concepts.”

Although Brekelmans believes the majority of new parks opening in China are still poorly planned and unlikely, in the long run, to succeed, he also sees changes in the market. With the arrival of Disney and other multinational projects, he says, more expertise and dedication is being shown across the board. “A wave of [joint ventures] with foreign players is entering the market, bringing with them the skills and concepts to succeed in China,” he says. “Slowly local players are learning lessons, and many smaller upstarts have exited the market.”

Magic Show Flow Chart


As you plan your act, one of the most important aspects has to be the flow, or how your act is paced from one trick to another. This especially holds true in an illusion act because often you are locked into pre-recorded music and you can’t speed up the pacing with your patter or presentation. So as you plan your illusion act, best you consider the flow first of all.

Remember, any successful show has peaks and valleys and they have to come at the right time. It took American illusionist, illusion designer and show designer Paul Osborne several years to work out pacing for park shows, but there is a formula for a good twenty minute illusion show. This formula is so successful that, season after season, he would substitute illusions, still keeping the same basic flow, and audiences around the world loved his shows.

To understand his illusion show formula remember what I said about peaks and valleys and begin to visualize it as if your show was a graph based on the high and low points. The highest points being the illusions or effects that get the most audience reaction on a fast paced, up tempo level. The medium and slow effects are still good mysteries, they just run at a slower pace to allow your audience to catch their breath as they are still being entertained.

Let’s use the same graph, but this time putting the effects in.

The act would basically flow like this:

The magician is introduced, walks out to a fast paced music. Enter assistant with crystal casket base and framework, the magician spins unit as assistant brings in plexi panels to insert into framework. Cloth cover is brought out, casket covered, unit revolved, girl produced. Running time approximately 2 minutes, 30 seconds. Magician bows with female assistant. She exits, he begins blowing up balloon.Male assistant takes crystal casket off, brings on Dove to Duck. Female assistant enters with tray, balloon is attached – POP! A dove produced. Female assistant exits with tray (changes costume backstage for sawing.) Dove is put in Dove to Duck box – BANG! Sides fall down – a rabbit is in the dove’s place. Male assistant exits with the rabbit and the prop. (Running time, 1 minute). Magician bows, steps up to microphone, removes six cards from pocket, begins patter – to finale of trick (approximate running time, 2 minutes.) Magician introduces the Thin Sawing in Half Illusion. Curtain opens revealing the prop. Enter two assistants, the girl positioned in the box, the male assistant helps with blades, etc.. The illusion is performed to fast paced music to finale. Girl exits from box and curtains close. (Approximate running time, 2 minutes, 45 seconds.) Assistants exit, male returns to bring magician What’s Next effect as magician steps up to to the microphone to begin patter on What’s Next. (Backstage both assistants preset the Asrah Illusion, girl assistant changes costume.) Magician performs What’s Next to finale. (Approximate running time, 1 minute, 30 seconds.) Magician steps away from microphone as ethereal music begins. Curtains open, enter female assistant. Magician hypnotizes her, she falls back, caust by male assistant. She is placed on the couch and covered with the cloth. She floats up, male assistant wheels away table. (Backstage she exits, runs around to the back of the theatre.) The form floats up, dramatically the magician whips away the cloth and she has vanished! She screams from the back of the theatre and runs down the aisle to join the magician and the assistant for bows. (Approximate running time, 2 minutes, 30 seconds.) Curtains close as the magician steps forward and requests the assistant of two young audience members. The male assistant hands him the Linking Rings, the magician performs withthe aid of his young helpers as the assistants prepare the Substitution Trunk backstage. As the Linking Rings are completed and the two young helpers are assisted back to their seats, the magician begins to talk about Houdini and his fabulous escapes. (Approximate running time, 3 minutes.) The up-tempo music begins, the curtains open to reveal the trunk and the two assistants enter. The handcuffs and bag are displayed, the girl is cuffed and put in the bag. The bag is put in the trunk and tied off, the trunk is locked. The magician jumps on top of the trunk and pulls up the cloth cover. “One” (cover up, cover down), “two” (cover up, cover down), “three” (cover up, cover down) – it’s her! She drops the cover, all is reversed and the magician is found where she once was. (Approximate running time, 3 minutes.) The magician and assistants take their well deserved bows.

This is Osborne’s basic formula for his popular park shows. Season after season he would change the illusions out but never the formula. He changed the Sawing for Zig Zag, Cutting in Sixth and Mismade. The slot for the Crystal Casket was filled with the Costume Trunk, Doll House and Chef’s Nightmare. The hardest slot to fill was the final illusion. The Sub Trunk is a natural conclusion to an illusion show. The Assistant’s Revenge works nicely, the Zig Zag works okay and a costume switch works, but it has to be a special illusion to conclude your show. One of the most creative finale illusions he came up with was called the Chicago Fire. It was invented for a now defunct park called “Old Chicago” near Chicago, Illinois. Basically it was a small buildin (cabinet) elevated on a parson’s table. Steps were wheeled up, a young lady stepped up into the ‘building’, the steps were removed and the little building caught on fire. Flames billowed out the top as ‘firemen’ entered to put out the blaze. Instantly all four sides of the building collapsed. The firechief turned around and it was our missing girl! It was a creative, inexpensive solution to “what do we put in place in the Sub Trunk?” What can you come up with?

After years of trial and error, he found this formula works for a twenty minute, three person illusion show presented in parks, and it is still as strong now as it was then. As you plan your shows, print my graph, write out what you plan to do, visualize your performance and gauge your peaks and valleys. Don’t give your audience too much and don’t give too little. Put it all together right and, even if your illusions are not that good but your flow is correct, you will give your audience a memorable evening of magic.



Maslow and your theme park

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology, proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation.Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans’ innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, all of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans. Some criticisms of Maslow’s pyramid as being ethnocentric may stem from the fact that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs neglects to illustrate and expand upon the difference between the social and intellectual needs of those raised in individualistic societies and those raised in collectivist societies. However there are things that to learn from his pyramid. It has some very good logic in it. And it can help you with getting more sales of your product(s).

Imagine walking though a large grocery store and they did whatever they could to make sure you buy… You smell, for instance, that delicous spaghetti that is prepared in the vegetable section, with fresh brocolli and tomatoes… Smells so great. Normally you would run over and taste it and be persuaded in buying all the ingredients that conviently are already packed for you in one bag at a special price…. However not this time. And that’s because you really, really, really have to go to the toilet. All that coffee that you had this morning has the need to go out of your body right here and now. But toilets are something weird in supermarkets here…. They did their best to hide them for you, and if you want to use it you have to pay 50 cents cash… No money no pee…… It’s like ‘we don’t want you to feel relaxed and happy so that you can spend more money, but we just want your money’…. From a business point of view that might be right. But please take a look at the other side for a change.

Or imagine being at a museum and they conveniently placed their restaurant at the entrance. In the whole museum there aren’t any more restaurants, just some vending machines. So you enter and you see the restaurant and you think…. ‘not yet, i just arrived’. You go into the museum. You get a bit thursty and then you see a vending machine. It’s not what you want but it sure as hell is better than walking all the way back to the restaurant. So you buy a coke from the machine. You continue and you end up again at the entrance. You saw the whole museum, and you already had your drinks so you don’t feel the need to go to that restaurant and you just leave. Imagine in that same museum there’s a souvenir shop halfway the exhibition. I have been to museums where that’s the case. But halfway through the exhibition you don’t have any need yet for souvenirs. Maybe you check inside but you will most likely decide to buy stuff later. Except there will not be a later because you will not return to this place in the museum, unless you deliberatly go back for that shop. Imagine that in this museum they would switch the shop and the restaurant. Halfway the exhibition you get your chance to buy a coffee and something to eat with it. And after you saw the whole exhibition you walk past that shop and you decide that it’s now or never so you get in and buy something to remember your visit. Most museums and exhibitions I have been have very deliberatly chosen to keep the exhibitions itself apart from the money part, the shops and restaurants. And most of the time these shops and restaurants are found on the most unlogical places, because the exhibition itself got all the best places for being the most important thing.

Maslow created the infamous Hierarchy of Needs, a pyramid depicting the levels of human needs, psychological and physical. When a human being ascends the steps of the pyramid he reaches self actualization. At the bottom of the pyramid are the “Basic needs or Physiological needs” of a human being, food and water and sex. The next level is “Safety Needs: Security, Order, and Stability.” These two steps are important to the physical survival of the person. Once individuals have basic nutrition, shelter and safety, they attempt to accomplish more. The third level of need is “Love and Belonging,” which are psychological needs; when individuals have taken care of themselves physically, they are ready to share themselves with others. The fourth level is achieved when individuals feel comfortable with what they have accomplished. This is the “Esteem” level, the level of success and status (from self and others). The top of the pyramid, “Need for Self-actualization,” occurs when individuals reach a state of harmony and understanding. (The Developing Person through the Life Span, (1983) pg. 44).Once a person has reached the self actualization state they focus on themselves and try to build their own image. They may look at this in terms of feelings such as self confidence or by accomplishing a set goal.

Ever thought about how it’s odd that in developed economies, typically less than 5% of GDP is represented by agriculture? This model explains that — how an economy segments its growth depends on where on the hierarchy the bulk of its populace lies. If everybody is well-fed and safe, and the local religion is taking care of love/belonging and esteem/respect relatively well, chances are, the next billion dollars of growth in the economy will be around things like education or lifestyle. Partly explains why Facebook was valued at more than Ford, doesn’t it? Now you know why apparently frivolous stuff like cosmetics can end up being bigger product markets than more “fundamental” things.

Of course, some products span the spectrum. A Big Mac is mostly a bottom-tier product, but a classy heirloom-tomato caprese salad at your local-and-organic neighborhood bistro is mostly selling self-actualization. Prostitution may have been the oldest profession, but pornography didn’t explode in market size until the Internet became available. So evolution along the Maslow hierarchy is not reflected precisely in market structure — technology determines when the market will properly reflect certain needs (i.e. when the market can actually deliver to that need).

When you buy a house, you will not do so in a reflex. It will take some days to arrange everything and sign all the papers. So in that case Maslow will not have that much influence. But what happens when you buy a house or a car? You get coffee, you are taken to a private (safe) place….. They help you fill up all the needs that are lower in the pyramid. Not that they always do that deliberatly, but it’s just how life is.  It also means that if you have something like a bookstore and there is not a place in your area selling drinks and some food, your profits of bookselling will increase a lot after you opened up a small corner where everyone can buy a drink. To go or to sip up in one of the chairs, with a view on all your best selling books….

But what if your product is a book? What if it is a book about cooking? Wouldn’t a grocery store be a much better place to sell than a bookstore? There are a zillion internet cafe’s. But I have yet to see one where you can print the pages you are visiting. Where you could gather information for your school project, gather it in a document, and have that printed for you. Where there’s pen and paper for you to grab when you have the need to make some notes. Maybe write down the name of a website….

You really can increase your sales when you sit down for a minute and think about what mindset people are in or have to be in, in order to buy your product…..

The glow

The Glow

When you feel like you’re ready to go
Somewhere you’ve never been
Make a wish and the dream in you grows
Shining as bright as day
Carrying you far away

The story begins with the light in your heart
A fantasy, a dream and a spark
Once you believe you are ready to shine
The person inside you will show
You are the glow, you are the glow

Look around take in all that you see
You just might be surprised
A world of enchantment and pure majesty
You’ll be discovering
The person that you’re meant to be

The story begins with the light in your heart
A fantasy, a dream and a spark
Once you believe you are ready to shine
Bright as the world’s ever known
You are the glow

Feel your strength, you can face the world
Believe every day, everything is possible
A magical journey awaits

The story begins with the light in your heart
A fantasy, a dream and a spark
Once you believe you are ready to shine
The person inside you will show
You are the glow, you are the glow
Whoa, you are the glow.

Every company needs a boffin


Steve Jobs was a boffin. And many other successful companies have a boffin at the top or at least very close to that.

Boffins are scientists, engineers, and other people engaged in technical or scientific research. They are what we call ‘geeks’, but they are extremely good at what they do. They know everything there is to know in their field. In the movies we see a lot of characterised boffins.


During World War II, boffin was applied with some affection to scientists and engineers working on new military technologies. It was particularly associated with the members of the team that worked on radar at Bawdsey Research Station under Sir Robert Watson-Watt, but also with computer scientists like Alan Turing, aeronautical engineers like Barnes Wallis, and their associates. Widespread usage may have been encouraged by the common wartime practice of using substitutes for critical words in war-related conversation, in order to confuse eavesdroppers or spies. Boffin continued, in this immediate postwar period, to carry its wartime connotations: a modern-day wizard who laboured in secret to create incomprehensible devices of great power. Over time, however, as Britain’s high-technology enterprises became less dominant, the mystique of the boffin gradually faded, and by the 1980s Boffins were relegated, in UK popular culture, to semi-comic supporting characters such as Q, the fussy armourer-inventor in the James Bond films and the term itself gradually took on a slightly negative connotation, broadly similar to the American slang, geek or nerd.

In the Commonwealt outsidethe UK, the word is much less commonly used – and relatively few Americans will have heard it at all unless via UK sources such as Doctor Who or BBC World. It is however still used in some environments, for example, scientists and engineers at Antarctic research bases were still being called boffins in the 1980s


Today every large company needs a boffin. It doesn’t matter what you produce and sell. From multimedia to playing cards. From paint to garden Furniture. Even factoring and billing companies, especially factoring companies. In my opinion every company should have at least one person who plays the role as mister ‘Q’ in the James Bond series. Someone who plays with your product and does things with it that you wouldn’t think of in the first place. Your company ‘geek’ who is a great fan of your stuff and gets to do whatever he/ she wants to do with it.

Even after just a couple of weeks, it is this person who you will come to first if there’s something to be solved. If sales drop, this person can tell you why. If your competitor sells more than you do, this person can explain exactly why customers buy theirs instead of yours.

A boffin can tell you exactly how you can improve your product.

Movement Analysis

You can tell a lot about what your competitors are up to, if you know where they are. If you keep track of all people working with competitors you can make great guesses about their next upgrades, improvements and new products. If one of your competitors puts a photo on his Twitter of him in front of a hotel in Paris, then you should have someone who, like a detective, should try to find out why he is there. If there’s another photo of this president or manager together with other people then it would be a very wise thing to find out what company they represent. There’s also a lot to tell about employees getting to work later and leaving earlier. If whole departments seem to do that, then you can take a pretty educated guess about why. You can learn a lot by having a boffin sitting in a car a whole day, in front of your competitors office. Writing down license plates, checking who goes in and out. When they get in and out… And not only keep track of any job vacancies but also when they were and how much vacancies they say they have in that department. Check who seems to go there for an interview, and after that check who seems to have gotten the job. This is what all national security agencies do with potential dangerous people. They keep track of who this person talks with, where he goes to and what he does when he gets there. Only after that information they decide when to arrest him, and who else.

One good boffin can tell you more about a companies movements than any movement-department. A boffin knows exactly what you competitors are up to.

Resources list

Especially in a large company this can prove to be a very handy list indeed. At home everyone has a notebook with names and numbers. And everyone has a shortlist of people to call when you need a plumber or electrician. Who to call for the best deal in tilesand who to ask about finance. A while ago I worked for a company where two toilet seats needed replacement. They decided to find someone to replace all of their seats. About 40 in total. Well, after two weeks, when I was there again, I noticed the seats still weren’t replaced. When asking about it they answered that it was hard fo find a business that could replace them for a small price… What the??? If it would have been a small company, the owner would have asked his employers if they know someone who could do that for cheap. But strange enough the larger the company, the less logical simple things start to become. Spending two months finding someone to replace their toilet seats….? Why shouldn’t you do the same as when your company was still only 40 people strong? Why don’t you ask the people who work for you about their shortlist?

A boffin knows who your competitors call. Your boffin knows what companies are on their shortlist. And not only can that tell you what problems your competitors ran into, but also what they might be working on. Your boffin might even say that they have better coffee in their factories and offices. And they can tell you who you should call to solve the problem. Trust me, they know….


Every business in the world works with disinformation. Even not telling everything is disinformation. And large companies are pretty good at distracting their competitors with news that is not (completely) true.

A boffin can tell you if any news of your competitors is disinformation or not. He or she can tell you with pinpoint accuracy which news doesn’t fit their flow of information certified as true.


At the end of may 1940Hundreds of thousands of French and English soldiers were evacuated from Dunkirk, Duinkerken, for the  German troops. The German army didn’t do anything but waiting…. Because they thought they had the allies trapped. Thousands of German magnetic mines were scattered in the waters from Dunkirk to England. So the Germans were convinced that any ships that would come to rescue would be blown by a mine. But that thing didn’t happen. The English knew about the mignetic mines. Before the evacuation they carefully got one of those out of the water. After examination they found out that it was magnetized with it’s north pole downwards. For the evacuation of all their thousands of soldiers the Brittish sent large wooden vessels to Dunkirk. But that would never have been enough. So they magnetized their warships with it’s south pole downwards. That way the magnetic mines were sort of pushed away from the ships and they didn’t explode. The Germans never expacted the Brittish to do this and when they found out it was too late to react: the beach was empty. The Germans did the same dirty trick in the Northsea close to London so that none of the ships could arrive there with supplies. So the British hung a large magnet under a Wellington airplane. It made most of the mines explode before one of them was detonated a little bit too early and destroyed the plane. But after some small perfections several airplanes were equiped with magnets. It became know as Project AirSweep, an amazing feet of clever thinking, and stupidity at the same time.


You need a boffin to tell you how to degauss your product; when your competitor pushes you into a certain direction you must know how to get out with your product without any harm done. It is very easy to see how your ‘enemies’ try to get you. Their mines usually aren’t hard to spot. The problem is that it needs creative thinkers to degauss your product, so that you can even walk in their trap and yet get out alive because your stuff is immune for it.

Music as a code

Everyone who has seen the movie ‘The lady vanishes’ has seen how Lady May Witty sang a song that had was used as a message to warn the allies. During WWII the resistance used a whole list of songs to bring over messages. During the Cold War the Russians used it to warn their spies all over Europe who could listen to a special radio channel that kept them informed by a very long list of songs to be played at specific times for specific spies. Many of their spies were saved by hearing the song to get out and run for your life. When the British caught a Russian spy, Frank Bossard, he had records with him with certain songs that could be attached to messages. Bossard was also the first spy caught with the use of an electronic transmitter. These transmitters were placed on the clips of classified documents, which were then followed to Bossard’s desk, and eventually to the hotel he was using.

Every company has a certain flow in it. When things go as usual a very specific rhythm can be noticed when observing the company. People say the same things, act the same because that suits the rhyhm they are in. You can tell when a company gets into trouble because the flow will change. Spokesmen will do things they didn’t do before. To reassure customers and stockholders that there is no problem at all. Suddenly you will hear managers state that accusations aren’t true while these had been there for months already. When the flow of a company starts to change you know something is about to happen.

 And you can keep your flow perfect with boffins!

Illusion shows Rundowns and Prompt Books

Link to the Excel file Promptbook

(Please inform me if it doesn’t work)


Put on a stage-crew intercom headset and listen to stage manager, Mark Stevens, calling some of the lighting, follow spot and set cues for the San Diego REP’s musical production of “HAIRSPRAY.” No rehearsed action is taken by the stage crew unless they hear the word “GO” from Mark’s lips. The sound feed from the actors has been turned down on the headset so the crew members can clearly hear Mark’s directions. No talking on the intercom please.



When I help magicians one of the first things I always ask is if they have some rundowns for me. And: no one has. Rundowns are a line-up of all the basical things you need for your act. Everyone needs to have that!I find it completely unbelievable if a magician doesn’t have something on writing about his act. He can tell what illusions he does, but he can’t even hand me that on paper!

In my rundowns I mostly have the following things:






And that’s it. It’s nothing more than that. It’s a list of the music and magic used in your entire show. So every show could have a different rundown. I always suggest to make separate rundowns of every act. So, when a customer calls for a show you just have to connect the rundowns of the acts you want to perform and you instantly know what to do and what to bring. A shortlist of all the magic in your act. How amazingly simple as it sounds: no one uses rundowns, except the very professionals. It makes life so much easier. When you have 200 shows a year with several special request you can’t go without them…..


After you made a rundown you complete that with your listing. A list of everything you use in your act. With that list anyone knows what magic to bring, what props, what lights…. If you can leave your bubble machine at home and how many moving lights to bring.

Many professional magicians have rundowns and checklists for every separate act, printed out in a large binder. In that way, if someone calls them tonight for a performance tomorow, they can react instantly. After agreeing the price the magician just has to take his binder, take out the rundowns and lists of the acts he wants to perform, and he is all set. He knows who to call, he knows what to prepare. Then he can get another binder for this show and fill it with the prompting sheets of all the acts. In just 5 minutes he is all set, and with the promptbook everyone knows what to do at the performance….

This is what sets the professionals apart from the amateurs!


This is a script of your acts and shows in which all actions and effects are mentioned and explained. Promptbooks are used in the entertainment industry for theatre plays, musicals, concerts and other large stage productions. If you have a large stage: make your promptbook!!! Also here I would suggest separate promptbooks for every act. Prompting is necessary when you have a stageshow with several assistants and stagehands. If you need people for the sound and light effects and have several stage hands then all you need to hand them is the promptbook of the show. It will tell them what to do. It makes practising much easier, your whole life gets more relaxed when you have a map with prompts. There are programs that do this work for you. The problem is that your show changes continuesly. It is not one show constantly repeated, like a musical. It will be extremely time consuming to keep your program updated. Any excel sheet will do the same and is just as handy for your stage manager…

Prompting is used in EVERY professional musical, play, circus or other type of show. EVERY!


Blocking is the recording of the performers’ entrances, exits, moves, gestures, pace use of props, etc. against the script. This serves as a daily reference for the performers and director during rehearsals, and is a record for the moves.

For blocking you need to understand first how any stage is devided and what’s where. Also you need to know that this is from the actors point of view and not from the audience.

Downstage is closest to the audience. Large theatres have an inclining stage so that the audience has a better view.


There are two types of blocking used in theatre: graphic and shorthand notation.

These are the most commonly used symbols. Anyone who had any sort of education in theatre has a knowledge of these symbols. They are used in any theatre all over the globe.

Thus the following move:

Magician enters from upstage right, walks downstage right towards the Crystal Box Illusion, crosses stage left to a chair, and sits….

Could be shown in shorthand like this:

M EN USR, X DSR -> CBI, X SL -> CH1 + ↓

You can find symbols in Word via Insert and Symbol.


Note entrances and exits, as well as the peoples relationship to the different elements on the stage. For example, when someone has been blocked to move behind the illusion at upstage right, coming from downstage left, your notation in the script may look something like “XUR-B ST.” Make the notation in the script at the point in the dialogue where the actor is supposed to begin moving.

Remember, stage right and left are from the actor’s perspective – facing the audience. Get used to having your right be stage left and visa versa. This takes some practice.

This a job for a pencil, NOT a pen. Bring either a good mechanical pencil with lots of extra lead or several sharp wooden pencils. Also bring an extra (big) eraser. Blocking often changes in the first few weeks of rehearsal.

Make sure you can read your own notes; you may be asked to remind the assistants where they are supposed to be.

Wallet Card

When working with several stagehands, aassistants, tchnicians and other crew, it is very wise to have a wallet card for any of them with contact info and what to do in an ’emergency’. What if your stagehand is caught in traffic? What if your lovely female assistant, who you need to cut in half, breaks a leg two hours before the show? You can have phonenumbers on the card and leave some room for the info of their ‘understudy’. That way you can leave some responsibillity with the people themselves. The guy in traffic can check if another stagehand, who has a day off, can be in time. The assistant can call her understudy herself before calling you. It’s great to get a phonecall about a big problem, and hearing it’s already solved.

Stage management and Stagecraft

All these things mentioned above are part of any stage management education.

Stage management is the practice of organizing and coordinating a theatrical production. It encompasses a variety of activities, including organizing the production and coordinating communications between various personnel (e.g., between director and backstage crew, or actors and production management). Stage management is a sub-discipline of stagecraft.

Stagecraft is a generic term referring to the technical aspects of theatrical, film, and video production. It includes, but is not limited to, constructing and rigging scenery, hanging and focusing of lighting, design and procurement of costumes, makeup, procurement of props, stage management, and recording and mixing of sound. Stagecraft is distinct from the wider umbrella term of scenography. Considered a technical rather than an artistic field, it relates primarily to the practical implementation of a designer’s artistic vision.

In its most basic form, stagecraft is managed by a single person (often the stage manager of a smaller production) who arranges all scenery, costumes, lighting, and sound, and organizes the cast. At a more professional level, for example modern Broadway houses, stagecraft is managed by hundreds of skilled carpenters, painters, electricians, stagehands, stitchers, wigmakers, and the like. This modern form of stagecraft is highly technical and specialized: it comprises many sub-disciplines and a vast trove of history and tradition.

There is a lot to find online about stage managing. Managing an illusionshow is very different from managing a musical. Circus and entertainershows need a specific kind of managing that is almost never taught in any course. So if you tend to get an education or take a course: be sure to check for what kind of play it is mostly targetted on!