fansThis gif is meant to be self-deprecating 🙂

Before reading this, I’d like folks to not internalize it but really think about walking around in the shoes of your favorite performers.

I still remember our very first fan letter and I am friends (online mostly) with our first and most loyal fan and last year invited he and his family to our anniversary party where the troupe performed in street clothes, we all had fun, drank great wines, beers and hung out together. When I see him it is hugs all around.  There is a family we know a good 1200 miles away from us and I really feel like part of their lives and it’s a big, stinking lovefest. There is another blog post about that –probably this winter. These folks and other hold special places in our hearts and are part of why,  even in the worst of circumstances, we slog out onstage and do our bits.

But generally our days-to-day fans don’t receive this level of access. And it’s not that we don’t appreciate that they came to the performance and gave us feedback and handshakes and laughter, but we know the social contract says that we all have fun at the fair and then everyone goes home.

What DO you owe your fans?

You owe them a good to great show, and if it’s not a great show you owe them showing up and giving it all you have-onstage. We have done performances in *terrible* weather conditions and in completely unsuitable venues. (And in one of those we watched the bride realize that the location had changed her plans as well and we sort of kept the swords out of sight! Never, ever, cross the bride, people!) Our favorite example is from our first show (not Phoenix Swords) where it was raining hail, in a lightning storm with freezing temperatures. The organizer told us
“IF no one shows up, you don’t have to go onstage and can pack up.”
But one lone kid, in a thin nylon jacket with blue lips showed up and we said
“This show is for YOU, kid.” And on we went, and sadly for the act after us, we attracted all the remaining die-hard faire-goers  and they had to go on after us. (You’re welcome!)
That’s an extreme example but if even one person shows up, you need to go out and do your job and give it your best shot.

You owe them gratitude
They showed up for you. Of all the acts in the faire they chose to come to yours. One of our longtime subcontractors (who is amazing and unsurprisingly, going into politics) is good at names and faces and deliberately chats up crowds before a show. He points people out to us, he works with making it a personal experience. We try to do the same (some of us better than others) and we have been rewarded with people choosing to go to ALL of our shows in a day and then coming back the next day. They are also the people who know that it is okay to laugh or clap at the right places and they tell the rest of the audience the cues you love to hear. They are the ones who chat you up to others and I am not above pointing out the organizer if the patron wants to give positive feedback.  Many organizers personally work the gate and if they hear about your show, thank your audience for coming.

You owe them timeliness-do your best to make this happen. Even as another act I have been known to make sub-vocal growling noises at acts *sauntering* on to stage late. Lateness is a sign of disrespect of the time of others.

You owe them feedback and answers-perhaps not AS the show is going on but several of our shows are education-based and we owe it to the crowd to be knowledgeable about what we do!

You owe it to them to be safe.

You need to render aid when needed.

You owe them service and professionalism. Our shows don’t mean a clean uniform at the end of the day but we do need to have *started* neat, clean and with nothing unsightly hanging out. And try not to use bad language or exclusive language and terms-well, unless you plan to explain it.

What you don’t owe your fans:

Personal information
justification for what you do
Putting up with bad socially/legally behavior
Access to your equipment or gear
To always be “onstage” (This one is tricky, sometimes you need that character break for potty trips or if you have your mouth wrapped around some food.)
Mind reading
Instant recognition-sorry folks, just jog my memory. If you have changed your hair color facial hair, style and have grown a few inches-bear with us, we are human!

And I still see some of these interactions turn sour. I’ve received my share of cranky emails and snarky remarks. But we are basically kind, polite people and if someone wants to turn that into a personal crusade, nothing we would have said or done would change that.

Love us or hate us, we’ll still go out and do our best for you in a show. And if you do like us, be sure to tell us because we DO appreciate you and you are the ones who let us do what we love. So thank you fans and we owe you one.