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Topic: Challenge - what is the best magic for language barriers (silent & showy)
Message: Posted by: tkuhns (Nov 13, 2002 10:24AM)
I recently moved to Japan and began doing kids shows here. Since I only speak a few basic words of Japanese (and won't be here long enough to learn more), I tried to select material that required a minimum of talking. I've discovered that working with translators is too unpredictable for me.

So my challenge is, what would YOU do in my situation? What tricks would you select that... require little talking? are highly visual? only need body language? are suitable for children?

For my 30 minutes, I did:
silk productions/disappearances/changes (to music)
Miser's Dream (to music)
Coloring book
Professor's Nightmare
Milk Pitcher with funnel retrieval (a bit difficult, but it worked with a translator)
Square Circle

Anything to add?
Message: Posted by: Andy Wonder (Nov 13, 2002 02:41PM)
Maybe David Ginn's vanishing 1 litre Coke bottle. All you would need to explain to the audience is that you are trying to vanish the bottle & you should be able to get through the rest non-verbally.
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Nov 13, 2002 04:18PM)
Hi tkhuns, - A local entertainer to me did quite a stay in Japan but as his primary occupation as a juggler. We have had kids of Japanese business people over the years and still get Christmas cards from Okinawa - in our case they loved our cabaret marionettes. I would personally as a person able to use facial expression for comedy purposes go through most standard kids routines including dieboxes. It all depends if you are 'able to ask a question' or make other statements by facial and bodily expressions. Mime I guess. - Tony :birthday:
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Nov 14, 2002 02:55AM)
I have done a few of these for Rumanian and Ukrainian children (Orphans) and quite a few for Italian students (check the letters link here for clients opinion of my performance http://www.absolutely-unforgettable.co.uk)

Effects that work for me are: -

Linking Rings
Object to impossible location
Rabbit production
Pom Pon stick
Quentin’s pocket-handkerchief mouse routine
Juggling/balance routines

Basically effects, which are visual or/and the plot, can be understood without verbal explanation. However I would still recommend that you USE YOUR NORMAL PATTER as then your body language will be correct for the routine and your emotions will show through better leading to a greater understanding even though they cannot understand you verbally.

The worst experience I had performing for foreign children was when the leader of the Romanian party insisted that they must translate everything. This was because HTV were filming and he wanted to be on. Anyway it really buggers your timing up!
The funny thing was when it was on TV they only showed snippets and HE WAS NOT IN ANY OF IT!

Later I was talking on the phone to the reporter (he got me a master of the tape)
And he was saying what a pain in the ar** this translator was.
Message: Posted by: tkuhns (Nov 15, 2002 02:01AM)
The translator in my show also a pain, though not intentionally. We couldn't practice beforehand. When I had an assistant up on stage, he walked right up and translated between the two of us -- turning off the mike! I had to tell him half-a-dozen times to translate TO THE AUDIENCE. He also couldn't adequately translate what I was saying -- I think he was a bit nervous.

My advice to anyone else who is in this situation -- do your best to AVOID translators! Most magic is visual, so pick the most visual effects. Set them to music if you are afraid of speaking "gibberish" to your audience.

Andrew, which book is Ginn's vanishing 1 litre bottle in?

So, any more ideas on child-appropriate, highly-visual effects? I forgot to add that I also did 20th Century Silks, Crystal Tube and dye tube.
Message: Posted by: Jim Reynolds (Nov 16, 2002 01:36PM)
I'm surprised you did not list Zombie. A great non-verbal effect (assuming you do it well).

Message: Posted by: tkuhns (Nov 17, 2002 09:45AM)
I didn't bring my zombie with me, so I'm trying to rig one up with a styrofoam ball. Just didn't have time to include it in the act.

Also, is there any non-magic entertainment that comes to mind? A sucker trick, perhaps?
Message: Posted by: Jim Reynolds (Nov 17, 2002 10:24AM)
Personally, I don't like sucker effects for kids. Unless you are the sucker. I'm not sure if hand shakes are customary outside of business in Japan, but a funny gag I've gotten a lot of mileage out of is the constant hand shake.

As you shake hands with your kid volunteer and place him closer to you, you keep your hand on his elbow after shaking hands. As you are about to address the audience, you fling his forearm up as if he wants to shake your hand again. Keep doing it to milk the laughs. Old gag, but can be funny.

You may want to check out Patrick Page's video: Funny Business for Kids Shows. Lots of bits of business and visual gags for kids.

‚悢‰^ <--supposed to be good luck in Japanese

Message: Posted by: tkuhns (Nov 18, 2002 08:29PM)
When I said sucker, what I really meant was when you propose to show them something but end up showing something entirely different.