On The Road With The Conklins

On the Road with the Amazing Conklins

From The NEW TOPS magazine, by Jerry Conklin, date unknown: “During the last part of July and the first part of August, we will be touring with our magical illusions show thru Ontario, Canada. It will be billed as “The Wonderful World of fantasy.” We will be looking forward to seeing our many Canadian friends. As yet, we do not have a rout but will be playing some of the same towns played last year with the “OZ Show.”

If we were to tell you that all of our shows were booked into auditoriums with all the necessary lights, curtains, stage area, etc., we would be kidding you. If our over two hundred shows a year, we play over two hundred different auditoriums or stages. We have played small stages and have had to put equipment in halls and other rooms. We have played stages so large we could park our truck back stage. We have played gym auditoriums, gym floors, all-purpose rooms and even out-door show on two flat-bed trucks.

One auditorium in Virginia had a front curtain that worked from one side only, the other side was off the track. We asked the custodian if it could be repaired before show time. He stared at the curtain for several minutes and then answered, “I’ve been here for twenty-seven years and that curtain hasn’t worked for twenty-seven years and it ain’t going to work tonight either.” That was the end of the discussion. When building a show of this type you must take this into consideration. You must be able to play on or in anything. Scenery must be designed to be very adaptable. You may need to leave a section or two out to fit the stage area. You will need curtains to block off views on gym floors. A good P.A. system is a necessary item – most schools have had their P.A.’s mis-used by the students and their sound is bad. Some lighting should be included in your equipment. A spotlight is very useful but needs an experienced man to operate it. Some fresnels or a few ellipsoidal or even some PAR lights at front of stage area will help. And of course, you will need several hundred feet of heavy-duty electric cords. Along with this you will need a good knowledge of electricity. You will also need to learn the various light boards used in auditoriums. Some are very complicated with sophisticated patch systems and others are just simple switches. There is nothing worse than a show that you can’t hear or see and just because the show did not take the time, money or energy to do it right.”