Monday, 18 February 2013

The Performing Mindset

Back in December, I started talking about performers and the reasons why they do what they do. In this post I want to discuss the performer's mindset.

Mindset – frame of mind – zone – headspace. These terms describe a utopian psychological state inhabited by performers, elite athletes, motivational speakers, and anyone who must be at their absolute peak of ability performing before a live audience. It is a place where their body, mind, and spirit meet in harmony in readiness for the task at hand. Only those who visit can understand how necessary it is to find it in order to give a successful performance.

Different performers have different ways of achieving this state. Some pace, some pray, some joke, some drink coffee, some intently review scripts, some practice, some stretch or do exercises, some just talk, but everyone does it, either consciously or sub-consciously. Indeed, some performers have onstage personalities completely different from their offstage personalities and people are often astonished by this. Really, it is only their inhabitation of a performing mindset that is happening. If the two personalities are extremely different, then performers may need some extra time to get into that performing mindset.

Anthropologist Victor Turner understood what is happening. Any performance, as he noted, involves “frame, flow, and reflection”. By “frame” he was referring to “that often invisible boundary... around activity which defines participants, their roles, the ‘sense’ or ‘meaning’ ascribed to those things included within the boundary, and the elements within the environment of the activity,” in other words, for our purposes, an event entertainment show. Performers recognize that the show (or “frame” according to Turner), is a distinct activity outside the norm of everyday life, and can be treated as such, so that they are free to be who they want or need to be. They can only get to this state by being given time to be on their own away from distractions.

What does this mean for event producers? It means that performers, no matter who they are, must be given quiet time before their performance, on their own, to find the right frame of mind. Therefore, it behooves the producer to provide such an environment. I consider this to be one of the most important aspects of working with performers.


  • Turner, Victor. (1988). The Anthropology of Performance. New York: PAJ Publications. pp54-55.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

My Latest Book Finally Launched

After a couple of years of writing and editing, my latest book has finally launched. It's a compilation of stories and anecdotes that took place during my nineteen years as an entertainment agent and special event producer.

No doubt everybody has similar stories if you are in this business. The problem is, would you tell them to your clients while you are still working? I no longer have to worry about gaining clients so here they are, all the embarrassing moments that nobody knew about until now.  This is what it's all about:

Uncontrollable laughter. Overwhelming tears. Thunderous applause. These are what every performer strives to educe from an audience. In my job as the person responsible for planning private corporate entertainment shows and putting the right performers onstage at the right time, it was also my goal and a measure of my success. Unfortunately, something happened along the way.

Jungle animals on the loose, bar fights, pyrotechnics gone awry, technical glitches, unusual brushes with the famous, a sweltering outdoor show for UN troops in war-torn Cambodia, and clients who committed deadly sins – these are but a small sampling of the stories that await within Stumbling Toward Applause: Misadventures in Entertainment.

This inspiring book is a selection of stories and anecdotes from the early 1980s to 2004, when the special events industry was in its infancy. While there are many entertainment memoirs on the market, this is the first book of real-life experiences within this particular industry. With the consequences of human frailty as the overarching theme, it takes readers on an emotional rollercoaster ride, from hilarious live, onstage mishaps to the poignancy of an actor’s death. Under the surface, though, lurk nuggets of wisdom and lessons about life, business, and relationships. 

Check out a preview, or buy the book on Amazon.

I hope you enjoy this lighthearted read.