And The Show Went On!

Saturday 19th April saw the first showing of some of the new act is the 2008 line up in the Second Life traveling variety show “The Show Must Go On” and it was not only a great success, but a whole lot of fun for audience and performers alike!

Postcard from Second Life.

Opening to the stand-up of Alonso the Robot, the audience were treated to SL’s first ever ventriloquist act before being entertained the beautiful desert dance of Alazi; the comedy of Lucy; Cooking with Margaux and her hapless assistant, Raoul; the death-defying cycling of the Synchronised Knitters Precision Unicycle Drill Team; Caitlin’s stunning roller-skating fan dance; Madam Crème Caramel’s Amazing Trained Humans; and the unique talents of the Cellophane Dance Troupe – all interwoven with the high-energy antics of Alba the acrobat!

Behind the scenes, yours truly was plunged into a new and exciting world of stage cues, curtain calls and quick costume changes. It is staggering how much work goes into putting on a live show in Second Life. Not only must artists be recruited, acts developed, rehearsals organised and, finally, shows booked. And then the nerves kick in as the real hard work of putting on a show begins.

My part in The Show Must Go On started as a small one. I was to be a non-speaking stunt bottom in a cheeky (warning, all puns intended) skit on a cooking show where I played the largely naked dumb-but-pretty toyboy with a lecherous TV cook. In no time at all, I found myself roped into dancing with the Cellophane Troupe, acting as the dummy in the ventriloquist act and even standing in as Murph the shocked boyfriend in a comedy sketch. Suddenly I was in up to my neck and feeling very much out of my depth!

Thankfully the other performers were both patient and experienced so helped me through my initial rehearsals, still it was one hell of a learning curve, I can tell you! The sheer amount of planning and organisation that goes behind a show is staggering. The actors must get to the theatre early (but not too early to avoid crashing mid-show due to memory leak issues SL has) and run through all their ‘costume’ changes – this pre-loads all the textures of the various clothes and skins into cache and makes subsequent changes quicker. All animations and gestures must be activated and tested as this help them respond on cue later on when anything that can improve speed is a life-saver because lag quickly builds up as the audience arrive. Talking out loud is not allowed once the show starts as to do so would fill the audience’s chat window with confusing stage directions, rather like going to a real life theatre only to hear the stage manager shouting over the actors throughout. Instead everything is handled in group IM, and let me tell you it’s a seat-of-the-pants way to communicate as SL often causes them to fail indiscriminately.

Given all this as well as various crashes and logging issues and sim-strain, it’s a nail-biting affair throughout. To a casual observer, the back stage world of The Show Must Go On must seem like a strange, silent ballet of ever changing avatars and moving scenery, seemingly without plan or purpose, but to the performers it a dizzying fandango of very well organised chaos that rattles the nerves thrills to the very core.

The audience loved our first show so it’s with great joy that I can confirm that the show’s organisers will be announcing more dates later on this year – I will, of course, let you know when you too can watch this amazing and truly unique spectacle.

Useful Links:

1) The Show Must Go On website.
2) The Show Must Go On on my blog.
3) The Show Must Go On on Osprey Therian’s blog.
4 ) The Show Must Go On on Enjah Mysterio’s blog.
5) The Show Must Go On on Janey Bracken’s blog.
6) The Show Must Go On on Molly Montale’s flickr.


  1. Well done Head, a star in the making and congrats to Osprey and Enjah and all the others who worked so hard. Fantastic show, really enjoyed it!!!

  2. Thank you for your lucid description of the process of Second Life performing. There is a lot of work involved, but it is really rewarding, and the crashes and freezes only add to the merriment, once we all relax and let it be what it is. We are all still learning and SL is continually evolving, so who knows where this will lead!

    *begins singing operatically*

  3. Reiterate:
    Fabulous you, HBA!
    All that “preloading” you mention doesn’t do anything at all for the audience.
    I used to tell ppl to put their textures on prims in the audience area so the textures would be pre-loaded, but no one ever did.
    Gesture sounds will be better if played a few times prior to show so they are loaded for the audience.
    Having your objects rezzed inworld helps you as they are manifested prior to need. (no one ever does this).

  4. Hi guys – thanks for your kind comments, I loved it as you know.

    Janey: so glad you guys came and enjoyed it – you must come to the next one (some time off yet) as we’ll have loads of new acts. I won’t be in the same ones, as I was standing in for people in girlfriend and Ventriloquist 🙂

    Enjah: It will be amazing to see just how performing in SL evolves over the next few years. By the sounds of it, you need to include voice for your opera – I, only the other hand, would cause the voice servers to crash if I sung 😀

    Os: Sorry the comment got borked – it never showed up in spam or anything. I’ve never thought of preloading textures on a prim – not sure that applies to me yet (as only a performer rather than a set builder) but if I ever evolve that way. I’ll ask you about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s