Street Magic in Amsterdam

I was very impressed to see how organized the street performers in ‘Dam square in Amsterdam were. They arrive early (for performers) at the Kadinsky pub, and meet to divide up the day into performing hunks of time. Everyone seemed to do about a 45 minute chunk. There is a quiet and friendly (OK, maybe just to an outsider, I’m sure the politics is just as heavy weight as any other working venue) manner in which they do it.

The major part of the set seems to be lining up the crowd and quite literally drawing them into a tight audience. This takes quite a time and a bunch of skill in my book. The performers define the rectangle of performing area with a long rope. As they draw the crowd in they tighten the performance are by adjusting the rope and making the rectangle smaller.

I spent some time with Mark Cmor (markcmor.com) who performed a couple of small pieces of magic including a 10 Euro to 20 Euro with the $100 bill switch. He also did a cute gag –the vanishing cigarette, where he just rested the cigarette on the ‘stage/stand’ and said; “Hey, it takes time!’ and then eventually did vanish the cigarette in his thumb tip. Tiny magic that worked really well with the large/distracted crowd. Why did it work well? He has a great personality and more one-liners than you had any right to expect. He closed his show with a straitjacket escape.

The true art of performing Street Theatre is the final pitch for the cash. It didn’t seem like there was a huge amount of cash being delivered to Mark at the end of the show but enough obviously! Mark hails from Toronto and has made his home/living in Amsterdam for quite a few years.

 His performance was enhanced by a wireless microphone and a small amplifier/speaker system that made all his one liners possible and effective. The crowd just loved the one liners he hurled at passing tourists and local  pedestrians. He really did a great job and was kind enough to let me record about an your of his thoughts and advice on street performing.

If you are a performer visiting Amsterdam, check out the action in Dam Square. I was very pleased I did and learned quite a lot about this deceptively casual looking form of entertainment 

~ by Nick Lewin on September 27, 2011.

One Response to “Street Magic in Amsterdam”

  1. Although street performing appears casual, the performers are very hard working and to me the job seems stressful. It is not an easy life and there are no benefits attached. You have to be a devoted artist to live this type of lifestyle: not for the faint of heart. I enjoyed watching Mark very much, but was happy it was not Nick performing.

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