Looking Back and Looking Forward!
Assessing Your 2018 Season and Planning for 2019
Greetings Folks, Santa True here, and welcome to 2019! First, CPW is hoping and praying that our good friend Bo Turner heals swiftly and well, and our prayers go out to him and his family.
As you know, every month we at CPW try to release an article full of helpful information for your Christmas Performing journey and to throw a shameless plug out there for Christmas Performer Workshops. Now that we are safely into January, it is a great time to be reflective about our most recent experiences.
As I look back at my 2018 season, I try to divide it into two sections: the Business side (how many gigs, what kind, marketing, administration, and earnings) and the Performing side (what I actually did at those gigs, what went well, and what needs work). Here are some things that I think that are important for any professional Christmas Performer to consider.
- History: If you don’t look back at what you’ve done, you are missing an important part of the picture. I heartily recommend keeping a gig journal. It will definitely help when you have repeat performances for the same customers.
a. Check your overall numbers: How many gigs did you do and what did you do at them?
b. Check your specific metrics: These are notes including pay, audiences (size and age), length of gigs, travel time, and even prep time.
c. What stands out? What went well and what was problematic? What was fun? What do you want to do more of in 2019?
- Goals: I try to have some new goals for every season to help me build my repertoire.
a. Some goals are business-related (better paying gigs, better publicity)
b. Some goals are performing-related (new songs to sing, do more dancing)
As you look back over your season, try to visualize each appearance and interaction. Make notes about your engagements. Circle the ones that were really good or when something important jumps out at you. You may try considering the following points that go beyond numbers.
- Spiritual: How fulfilling was this season to you spiritually? While this may not be front and center, it’s an important part of what drives us and helps us to be compassionate and empathetic people. If you feel burnt out or elated after this season, ask yourself why? Think about what you want to do (more pro-bono gigs or fewer gigs) to maximize 2019.
- Emotional: This seems similar to Spiritual but it’s a different aspect. Some jobs are a grind, where you feel like a glorified seat cushion. Others leave you grinning all the way back to your sleigh. Consider the emotional stand point of your gigs and figure out what made the difference. One tip: Often your emotional standing is linked to the people you are working with. When some partners influence you for feeling better, consider how you can work with them more!
- Financial: How does this relate to performing? It’s very important to avoid those situations when we feel like we’ve been taken for granted. We know that we can put up with a lot of things. And when we work pro-bono, we feel that this gig is important and we really WANT to be there. There are times when we are not as emotionally invested in some situations, so the way in which we are treated and compensated can really make the difference. We often “go the distance” for a client who has limited resources but truly shows us how much we are appreciated. And financial benefits are not limited to pay. Did the client provide additional benefits such as great exposure on social media, outstanding photos, a marvelous review, or even just the chance to do something new and interesting? These have value, too.
- Professional: As Christmas Performers, we are all on a journey. If you use the rubric that we have approximately “700 days” in our career, you want to make each one count and to do better every time you suit up. When you look back, you may see photos that are not the best, you’ll remember gigs that were not the most fun, or remember when you would have liked to improve something. You can also see where your investments in costuming, training, and marketing have improved your photos, your videos, and your experiences. How does your last season compare to your ideal performer skills and appearances? Where do you want to take your particular specialties and offerings in 2019? Are you most interested in more corporate events or additional home visits? What will you need to do to get there? Remember, it’s a two-sided coin: Getting the gigs and then nailing your work at the event.
Going beyond this first evaluation of your season, let’s next consider some of the more subjective topics. Consider giving yourself a rating (perhaps on a scale of 1-star to 5-stars) for each of the following (as applicable). Ask yourself if you want to do more or less of these or if you see something missing from the list you’d like to add to your season evaluation.
- Character Work: Did you do any improv, persona or back story development , any mime, vocal training, or vocal performances? How would you rate your preparation and use of character work?
- Storytelling: Not out of a book, but told directly to the audience. You might have used traditional stories, written your own new stories, or told tales about the North Pole.
- Story-Reading: Here’s your chance to read out of book and engage in character voices, presentation, and working with others for the story.
- Q&A sessions and Working with Duos: Did you have a chance to work with others in character? Did you spend any time answering North Pole questions from your audiences such as talking about the reindeer, the elves, and how all the North Pole activities are done?
- Magic and Props: Did you weave in any magic tricks, the use of props like a magic key or the Naughty or Nice book, present any balloon tying, or other physical props into your presentation?
- Languages: Did you have opportunities to use other languages besides English? Have you considered learning languages spoken in your local communities (Spanish, Armenian, maybe American Sign Language)? Would you have liked to know how to say “Merry Christmas” in more than one language?
- Singing and Public Speaking: Did you conduct any sing-along sessions, perform any solo songs, or serve as an Emcee or “cat herder” for events, perhaps work the crowd and get them excited? How did your voice hold up throughout the season? Did you have vocal strength and stamina?
- Costumes and Themes: Did any of your gigs this year provide a chance to appear as Father Christmas in other colors than red and white? Did you do any specialty Santa appearances on skis or ice skates? Were you able to use a casual workshop outfit or Christmas in the kitchen? Would you like to expand your closet for available looks and costumes to expand your performing opportunities?
- Photo Mojo: Yes, modeling for photos is performing! How did you do? Same old poses? Anything new?
- Other Fun Stuff: Did you get to do anything new and fun this year? Dancing? Puppetry? Go snow tubing down the mountain?
As you look over your 2018 season experiences, if you find some areas you want to strengthen, grab your calendar and start scheduling your training goals. You don’t want to be like the old joke, “Bubba was so unaware that Christmas snuck up on him.” You will have days like me when you glance at the calendar and think, “Holy buckets of reindeer treats! I better get a move on!” One of the ironic elements of any great performer is that they can make everything look effortless. And we know that there is a ton of rehearsal, trial and error, plus hard work in the background that is never seen by the clients or audience.
May your 2019 Season be amazing, and thank you for all you’ve done in 2018. Now, let’s look at some training opportunities!
There are four official CPW engagements currently on the books and several tentative ones in the works. We are looking for a few more. Now is the time for your group to sponsor an amazing workshop like no other. The best part is that this is a team effort: CPW and the sponsoring group can do some cool things!
We are offering three different programs right now, all of which are tailored for your group.
- Christmas Performing Fundamentals – The Fundamentals never go out of style and are where all our success starts with Vocals, Physicality, Storytelling, Photo Mojo, and more.
- Advanced Christmas Performing – When you’ve started working through your fundamentals and you’re ready to stretch your muscles, it’s time for an Intensive study of Storytelling, Character Work, and Back-Story.
- Turbo Charging Your Christmas Community – One of the best things you can do to improve your craft is to mentor others and to be mentored. Develop a coaching relationship with your peers invests in your entire network with an in-depth workshop on Resourcing, Brain Storming, Peer Review, and Coaching.
Current 2019 Schedule
- Oklahoma: OKC Advanced Workshop, *March 8-9-10 (*current status unknown, watch this space for more information)
- Louisiana: Shreveport Fundamentals Workshop, March 29-30-31
- Georgia: Northern Lights ATL/CPW Basics, April 12-13-14
- Indiana: Indiana Fundamentals Workshop, May 3-4-5
- Florida: Florida Advanced Workshop, PalmTree Santa’s, June 7-8-9
We have some other tentative workshops in the wings but need to nail those down. If you are interested, please contact us today: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sending you all the best from Santa True, Cat Ellen “Mrs Santa True,” and all of us at CPW