Using a Database
I keep a database of all shows. It is in Excel so I can keep it on both my PC and Pocket PC. This database has all my show (two years worth then they go to an achieve file). It also has thumbnail descriptions of all my stories, routines, jokes, character bios (a little more detail), magic, themes, etc. They have fields for type audience, ages, etc so I can sort/search. My shows are modular, that is, I plan each for a specific audience/venue and put the elements into a set list. The set list (Maximum 3 words for each element) is printed at 24 points so it can be read on the floor. It gives me the order for the show.
When planning a show I pull up similar venues to get an idea of what to do then work from there. For repeats venues I try not to repeat material for at least two years. I also include on the set list some extra material incase I need it doing a show; something doesn't work as well as I thought or the show needs to go longer than intended or whatever. That has saved me a number of times.
The database has a blank column as the first field so I can go down thru the list and put an "x" for each element I might want to use. Then I sort on that column so they all go together. Then I can copy and paste into WORD to organize the show. Since WORD and EXCEL are on both the desktop PC and the PocketPC I can do this with either then sync them together later. This allows me to plan in the field and print set lists anywhere. I have been doing this for a number of years and find it to work very well for me. The PocketPC is especially handy. Since it syncs with Outlook on my PC I keep my schedule and bookings in both places. I also use MS Streets and Trips to locate the venue and download a map of the area into my PocketPC in addition to printing it out. My PocketPC can also be used to get email on the road and even make minor changes and corrections to my web sites.
Typical Set List
D: Hello, Cow Heard, Tex, Tell Story
· Anansi & Friends
M: Wand, Silks Popcorn
· Noisy House
M: 3 Ropes
M: Coloring Book
· Do Not Open
NOTE: This can be done using Palm PDAs however I prefer the more powerful Pocket PC PDAs. Palms start at a lower price however as you add software the price increases. There are more powerful Palms coming out and they cost more also. Pocket PCs have some very economical and full featured units coming out. I use a Dell Axim X5 which has a very nice price, actually lower than Palms with close capabilities so the price advantage Palms enjoyed are fading. I recommend a Pocket PC.