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Topic: The Best Children's Magicians aren't Magicians at all!
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Apr 27, 2007 03:27PM)
After a long time in this business I've come to the conclusion that the best children's magicians aren't magicians at all.

You don't need to know a thing about magic to become an excellent magician. In fact, magicians probably make the worst children's magicians of all.

What you do need to succeed is a knowledge of entertaining and stagecraft. By which I mean someone who has been trained as an actor or similar theatrical discipline.


Take Geoffrey Durham. Geoff was an actor and stage manager in the UK who created the role of The Great Soprendo, a stereotypical Spanish waiter style speaking semi-broken English and performing magic. Nothing showstopping. Nothing any general magician wouldn't know about.

But could he present himself and put it over, entertainingly.

He learnt what he used inside out and was a top of the bill for years till he decided to take off the wig and become Geoffrey Durham, magician and entertainer. Lovely fellow and a lovely and clever act. These days he still does magic you would know and understand - but with a little extra kick that leaves magicians guessing.

I would bet my money every time on an actor learning the role and succeeding as a children's entertainer against the many magicians trying, struggling and frequently failing to become entertaining children's entertainers.

In my view, knowing much about magic is an impediment to creating and producing a successful and entertaining children's show.

A good actor will knock spots off a good magician when it comes to entertainment.

It's down to stagecraft and showmanship - not copycat routines and big flashy props.
Message: Posted by: WagsterMagic (Apr 27, 2007 03:31PM)
I am an actor and a magician. I do all types of venues. What would be to flashy for a children show?
I do things like beads of iran, mouth coil, coloring book, coin bucket, hip hop rabbits and a little routine with a wand a flower and a fan to open my show. Is this too flashy because the kids seem to love my show?

Best
Brandon
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Apr 27, 2007 03:34PM)
Tony,
This is by far the best post EVER made in this forum. I was trained first as an actor, and all I have to say is that having watched most "professional magicians" is that most of them are the worst entertainers I've ever seen in my life. The magic is their crutch and if they forgot their props at home they'd be a lifeless, completely talentless heap.
First thing I say to students asking me how to be a "magician", I say go to college and learn how to act. No presence, no power.
Houdin said that great phrase about a magicians being an actor playing the part of a magician....
The word "actor" is the most important part of that phrase, but it's that word that makes the difference.
Message: Posted by: derrick (Apr 27, 2007 03:34PM)
I'm going to take a wild guess here. You're a magician and don't know the first thing about acting or stagecraft:)
Message: Posted by: calamari (Apr 27, 2007 05:21PM)
What you do is important, but how you do it makes it entertainment.
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Apr 27, 2007 05:28PM)
The thread name of course was Houdin so strictly speaking Houdin was the surname.

The traditional French system takes some getting used to as both parents male line names continue.

Therefor his father would have been called Something-Houdin. Something was his father's mother's name and Houdin was his father's (and his father's before him) name. The male line persists, but on both sides.

On marrying, his father retained his name in full.

His mother would have been a Someone-Robert and on marrying she lost her mother's name (Someone) but retained her father's name (Robert) and acquired her husband's family name of Houdin.

Hence she was known as Robert-Houdin even though her husband was Something-Houdin.

Jean Eugene took his mother's form of name - Robert-Houdin. On marrying he retained Robert-Houdin whilst his wife and children became Somethingelse-Houdin.

So Houdin was in fact the continuing surname. These days in France on a day-to-day basis many people do not use the mothers name but stick, as we do, with just the surname.

They pull out the family history for legal, formal and social occasions.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Apr 27, 2007 05:31PM)
Magicians having training in acting have a [b]huge[/b] advantage.
I agree.
Message: Posted by: Andre Hagen (Apr 27, 2007 05:37PM)
Great Post Tony, and right on the money! Many times I have watched an actor on TV (excuse me...the Telly) or onstage and thought that teaching him a few tricks he could out-magician the best of us!

I live for your posts Tony (once I learned to live with that hat in your avatar).
Message: Posted by: Marvello (Apr 27, 2007 06:00PM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-27 18:28, Tony James wrote:
The thread name of course was Houdin so strictly speaking Houdin was the surname.

The traditional French system takes some getting used to as both parents male line names continue.

Therefor his father would have been called Something-Houdin. Something was his father's mother's name and Houdin was his father's (and his father's before him) name. The male line persists, but on both sides.

On marrying, his father retained his name in full.

His mother would have been a Someone-Robert and on marrying she lost her mother's name (Someone) but retained her father's name (Robert) and acquired her husband's family name of Houdin.

Hence she was known as Robert-Houdin even though her husband was Something-Houdin.

Jean Eugene took his mother's form of name - Robert-Houdin. On marrying he retained Robert-Houdin whilst his wife and children became Somethingelse-Houdin.

So Houdin was in fact the continuing surname. These days in France on a day-to-day basis many people do not use the mothers name but stick, as we do, with just the surname.

They pull out the family history for legal, formal and social occasions.
[/quote]Actually, this is incorrect. His birth name was Jean Eugène Robert. He married Mademoiselle Houdin, and under special permission from the French government, was allowed to use the hyphenated last name. It is incorrect to refer to Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin as "Houdin."
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Apr 27, 2007 06:16PM)
Thank you Grandpa. The hat is very effective in attracting attention. remember, that is what I have to do every performance. I have to pull an audience, stop them and pull them. I don't have an audience brought together for me, like a birthday party, school or theatre. I have to get out and get my own.

The hat - and the coat which you can't see - are impressive. They were based on two pictures from around the 1860s of an English circus parade costumes. The coat from one and the hat from another. No idea about colour of course but they are showstoppers, practical (overnight wash and dry) and essential to do that part of my job.

Outside, all weathers and four performances daily. And for it to work there is a deal more to that costume than meets the eye.
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Apr 27, 2007 08:25PM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-27 16:27, Tony James wrote:
After a long time in this business I've come to the conclusion that the best children's magicians aren't magicians at all.[/quote]

You don't need to know a thing about magic to become an excellent magician. In fact, magicians probably make the worst children's magicians of all.

Well said Tony.
Those 2 paragraphs said it all.
The magic is secondary, entertainment first.
Richard Lyn.
Message: Posted by: calamari (Apr 28, 2007 02:29AM)
It does my heart good to hear others say it "entertainment"
Message: Posted by: ROBERT BLAKE (Apr 28, 2007 05:19AM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-27 16:34, chris mcbrien wrote:
The magic is their crutch and if they forgot their props at home they'd be a lifeless, completely talentless heap.
[/quote]

I learned it the hard way on the streets. if YOU don't entertain them the wont be looking. the nice thing is that if YOU are interesting enough you havea bonus comedy & magic.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Apr 28, 2007 05:57PM)
When discussing this topic, it is safe to say that there is a big difference between the performing mere tricks and performing a truly enterainment experience. The first part in learning how to make your children's magic entertaining, is to do just that. It is to first recognize the differences between performing a trick and performing an entertaining routine.

To me, anyone can do a trick. I can have anyone be taught how to perform a trick. A trick is just the mechanics and movements involved in making a seemingly impossible situation possible. Anyone can do a trick as long as they learn the movements of how the trick is done and study the secrets and methods behind it.

However, that is where I see the "Trick" part ending. A person performing a trick is not interested so much in patter, acting, presentation etc. This is where I see a true children's performer can really start to change that trick into something far more special.

I think an audience who sees a trick only goes away thinking the trick was good or bad and nothing more. There is no focus on the performer or on laughing or creating any type of emotional response to what is happening.

For the children's performer, the entertainer really must understand and start to learn that performing just tricks will not win you over the children nor will it engage them in such a way as to get them having fun with what they are seeing.

This is where you must add in the "Entertainment" portion to the trick. Once the trick is learned, the performer must learn to build upon the trick and create an entertaining experience around it. Give that trick substance and make the journey you take the kids on even more fun then the trick's climatic moment.

How do we add entertainment value to our kid's show tricks? Well that is a good question and one I would like to explore here with you and hope that you will also share your thoughts on this as well. There are so many vast and different ways in which to do this, so I will describe some of which have worked for me over the years.

First, I would like to make a simple analogy as to why adding the entertainment value to a trick is so important in a children's performance. Let us say that the trick is a plain pizza. There is nothing wrong with the pizza as is and the kids may eat it and think nothing of it. However, the entertainment value you add is like the many layers of toppings you can place on this pizza to make it even more special and rewarding an experience. Each "layer" gives the children something more to enjoy.

So what are some of these so called layers that you can add to your children's trick to get it to be more entertaining?

- Comedy props: These are items that look funny to a child or have a funny thing happen to them. They can range from comedy wands to jumbo sized toothbrushes to even comedy rubber chickens. I think for children, just the site of a funny object can often times make them laugh and giggle and have fun with it in the course of the routine you build.

- They see but you do not see: This is a layer whereby you build into your trick a period in which something happens that the children notice first long before the magician does. Why does this work? Because children feel empowered. In their lives, they are seldom ever right when they are with adults. The adults are always correct and always correcting them. In this situation, the child feels empowered because he or she sees something first before the adult does and gets to tell the adult that something happened.

- Imagination: This is a huge one. This is a layer in which you allow yourself to use imagination to make a trick more entertaining. Children live in a magical world. To them, turning on a light bulb is magical. They also have vivid imaginations and you can see this when they are at play. So we can use this idea by allowing the children to pretend and imagine things as the trick progresses. Suddenly a rope is not a rope any longer, but is a worm named Bob. The kids can stretch their imaginations and they can have fun with imaging what will happen to bob the worm.

- Story Telling: This leads us into a layer called storytelling. A magician can change a trick into entertainment through the use of effective storytelling. Use a storyline to tie in the tricks or parts of the trick together so that it has more fun for the children. Children love stories and read or hear them all the time. A story can be a great way to tie in different aspects of the trick and make it fun and easy to understand for the kids watching.

- Dress Up and Costumes: As I stated previously, kids love to imagine things and pretend. They also like to dress up and become someone else they might admire. We can use this layer to change a trick into an entertaining routine by allowing ourselves to get the children dressed into costumes or even wear a costume ourselves. If baking a cake for the b-day child. Perhaps the b-day child gets to feel even more special because they get to become the master chef with a chefs hat and chef's jacket. It is fun for them and gets them involved in a different way.

- Adding a human quality to an object: This is something fun that can be done to change a trick into an entertaining routine by simply creating a human character around an ordinary object. Kids may not understand or may not really grasp what a sponge ball is. However, they can have a lot of fun if that sponge ball all of a sudden becomes Marty the Martian. Marty always likes to travel from place to place but never likes the dark. Now all of a sudden the kids can relate to the little character and what this funny character will be doing in the routine.

- Magician in Trouble: This is a classic principle that works great for adding entertainment to a trick. Children love to see the magician apparently get into trouble or mess up a trick. I think they enjoy it because it shows them that even adults can and do make mistakes. They can have fun with it when the magician messes up.

- Empowering the child: This is a layer that I use quite often. This is where you really empower a child because they actually make the magic apparently happen on their own. You try it and it does not work, but the child tries it and wonderful magic starts to happen. The child feels extra special because they made something work on their own. Making the child feel like a star can be a very entertaining experience for them and the audience watching.

- Music: Music can be used as a fun layer to envoke a mood or an emotion. Funny music can get the kids laughing while upbeat music can get them interacting with the trick in an entertaining way.

There are many many more, but I will leave it at this for now. I hope this gets people thinking and starting to look at their own tricks in a new light. I hope it gets you to rethink routines and find ways to make old tricks into entertaining magical experiences.

My 2 cents.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Apr 28, 2007 06:26PM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-28 18:57, magic4u02 wrote:


Let us say that the trick is a plain pizza. There is nothing wrong with the pizza as is and the kids may eat it and think nothing of it. However, the entertainment value you add is like the many layers of toppings you can place on this pizza to make it even more special and rewarding an experience. Each "layer" gives the children something more to enjoy.
My 2 cents.
Kyle
[/quote]
Kyle.
The paragraph above should be looked at by everyone. It is well said by Kyle.
A entertainer with lots of knowledge and experience.
The toppings are, as the British would put it(The Business).
Tricky Ricky
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Apr 28, 2007 06:52PM)
Thank you Ricky. I appreciate the kind words my friend. I just havce such a passion for creativity in magic and for those magicians to realize there is so much more to performance then presenting a trick as a trick. There is so much you can add to your magic to make the routine something that entertains my audiences.

For myself personally, I am not there so much to fool anyone or to wow them over time and time again. Sure I want my magic to be good and to be well received. I want wonderment to happen. However, most of all I want my audiences to be entertained by what it is I am showing them. I want to put smiles on faces and create laughter and good times. I can do that if I realize that a trick is a trick but entertainment is something completely different. It takes your magic to a new level.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Apr 28, 2007 07:04PM)
Tony....I love you man.

In a purely platonic most masculine way, and not like that hung over morning I woke up next to Aladdin's lamp and the widow Twankey. :)

Did I say that out loud? :)

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: Andre Hagen (Apr 28, 2007 07:09PM)
Here it is Saturday night and I don't have a gig until NEXT Saturday night! Could anyone recommend a good one-week acting course to fill the time?
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Apr 28, 2007 09:12PM)
Danny: love the new avatar my friend. Looking good. =)

Kyle
Message: Posted by: WhiteAngel (Apr 28, 2007 09:19PM)
It all comes down to one word. Showmanship.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Apr 28, 2007 10:08PM)
Ahhh...I'm sitting here thinking of all the people reading this saying "yeah, that is the way I do it...entertain 'em" and then they'll go out and do canned routines without putting anything of themselves into it and using tired jokes they heard of some DVD. Bummer.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Apr 29, 2007 12:07AM)
I think I need to clear up something based on a PM I received. Someone felt that the use of the word 'canned' was in reference to a specific magician who sells a wonderful routine based on the use of cans simular to PB and J. When I used the word 'canned' it means that someone buys a routine and uses it as is, this expression comes from the idea of buying canned food items that you don't mix yourself you just pour it out of the can and heat it up. I apologize if the individual who created the routine in question felt this was a knock to him, it was not what so ever, it was a knock to 80% of those doing kids shows that think if they buy five complete routines they can do a show, well they can, it just won't be as good as the other 20% of us are doing. Thank you.
Message: Posted by: flimnar (Apr 29, 2007 01:17AM)
Nothing is always, everything is sometimes......a beautiful thing it is (to me), that among the rich variety of human beings with their unique and distinct personalities, likes/dislikes, communication styles, and personalities, we manage to identify different purposes, methods, goals and measures of our success. It is terrific that those who have contributed to this thread are achieving their goals in magic/performing with integrity and excellence. A worthy goal for us all...

Flimnar
Message: Posted by: Bill Scarlett (Apr 29, 2007 07:38AM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-28 19:26, Richard Lyn wrote:
[quote]
On 2007-04-28 18:57, magic4u02 wrote:


Let us say that the trick is a plain pizza. There is nothing wrong with the pizza as is and the kids may eat it and think nothing of it. However, the entertainment value you add is like the many layers of toppings you can place on this pizza to make it even more special and rewarding an experience. Each "layer" gives the children something more to enjoy.
My 2 cents.
Kyle
[/quote]
Kyle.
The paragraph above should be looked at by everyone. It is well said by Kyle.
A entertainer with lots of knowledge and experience.
The toppings are, as the British would put it(The Business).
Tricky Ricky


[/quote]

Kyle has posted some great stuff here, one of the most thoughtful posters on this place. Thanks Kyle.

By the way, I read that you are going to be lecturing at the SAM convention this summer. What is the topic, if you don't mind sharing?
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Apr 29, 2007 10:17AM)
Hi Bill,

Thank you very much for the kind words my friend. I greatly appreciate it. I hope my words may be of help to some or get others thinking differently about creativity in the magic that they do.

Yes you are right that I will be lecturing as part of a 3 person 90 minute lecture/session at this years SAM Convention In Dallas. I am very grateful that they asked me to be a part of this and hope people enjoy the topic and information I will be sharing.

This lecture/session is about the Creativity, Performance & Presentation of magic. It is not a lecture or a dictatorial dissertation. Nothing will be rigid or written in stone. It will be informal, but structured. It will be fun, inter-active and hands-on. The session will cover several aspects of Creativity, Performance & Presentation in magic.

It will primarily focus on Kinetics specifically in relation to Body Language, the usage of Stage, TV, Walk-around and Close-up performing space, Pre-performance Preparation, Theatrical and Drama techniques, Working with a Partner, Make-up, Creating and Developing a Magical Persona, Wardrobe, Maintaining a Magical Image, Story-Telling Magic, the Usage of Music to enhance simple effects, Usage of Music in Magic, Audience Psychology, Creating Audience Rapport, Volunteer Selection techniques, and the fundamentals of Stagecraft. The aims and objectives of the lecture/session are to stimulate thinking, creativity and to provide ideas, tips and practical suggestions on how to be a better Magical Entertainer.

Are you planning on going to the SAM Convention this year Bill? If anyone plans on being at the convention, I would really enjoy you sticking around after the lecture so that I may be able to personally thank you as well as shake your hand and get a chance to meet you in person. It would be a pleasure to do so.

The lecture really ties in directly with what we are talking about in this thread here at the Café. It is really going to be one of the first times anyone has really done a full lecture on creativity in magic and how any performer can learn to be a creative thinker.

Getting back to the thread topic, I just feel so strongly that every single person has the ability to be creative if we choose to be. But being creative and learning to entertain takes time, patience and pratice. Like any good skill, entertaining has to be acquired. It is not given to you. You must earn it and to be a better entertainer means to devote time to learning how to entertain.

Too many of us are lazy and it is so much easier to buy a routine with patter or to steal a routine from someone else. Yes that is easy but it does not make you a better entertainer. No one said learning to entertain was going to be easy, but I feel your audiences deserve that effort from you. I also feel that the magical arts can grow so much better when each of us is determined to be a better and more creative entertainer.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: Bill Scarlett (Apr 29, 2007 04:44PM)
Sounds great Kyle. I'm not sure about whether I'm going to Dallas, I'm on a pretty tight budget this year, but hopefully.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Apr 29, 2007 05:30PM)
I completely understand my friend. If you do decide to go, please stop by and say hello. I would love to shake your hand and talk to you about this topic. It would be my pleasure.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Apr 29, 2007 09:11PM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-28 22:19, WhiteAngel wrote:
It all comes down to one word. Showmanship.
[/quote]

It's the middle of the night and I've not long been in. The show is out on the road these days.

Showmanship is part of it, but not all of it by any means.

The foundation is what I said, a theatrical training in all matters 'stagecraft' which applies whether you're actually working on a stage, or on a flat floor or in someone's home or out in a field.

It has to do with all those basics which Grandpa would love to learn this next week! How to stand and move and how to position yourself. How to turn and walk with economy of movement. And voice production and movement and gesture and many, many other aspects.

Then, you can apply this to an effect. Look at what Kyle wrote up there and see what is in Chapter One of Open Sesame. The original and classic book on children's entertaining. It's all there and explained and it's been there for 60 years. How to routine children's effects. ANY effect. Entertainingly.

And then, only then do you begin to apply Showmanship. And that is a subject in itself.

Ours is a craft which takes much learning and application. You learn by taking your courage in your hands and going out there and doing it. And if it doesn't work you try again, differently, and keep trying till you do get it right.

What you end up with is yours. No one else's.

That's how you succeed.

You won't do it by slinging money at flashy props.

It won't happen for you.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Apr 30, 2007 07:50AM)
I love Tony's post titles. He doesn't muck around. I sometimes think all his posts should be preceeded with the words "This house proposes that.."

I see the point Tony is making and agree with the sentiment but for the sake of debate I'll bite de bait.

Firstly, I suppose it depends on your definition of magician. If your definition of magician is someone who writes and performs a great act which utilises magic then there is no real argument here. If we're just using the term magician to describe someone with a knowledge of tricks and sleights and the ability to perform them then I still think being a 'magician' has its advantages.

I have a couple of colleagues who are great children's entertainers but aren't really magicians. Their acts are better than most magicians but on the other hand I think if they had more magical knowledge it would be an advantage.
The trouble with a lot of children's magicians is they place the magic first and are most interested performing a certain trick then struggle to make it entertaining. However if you're scripting an entertaining magical routine then your magical knowledge and performance skills are one of the many tools that will help you.

Those that buy big flashy props or shows in a box in the hope that they will make them great are not only working without any acting, stagecraft or showmanship but are also trying to find the easy route to do the magic too.

George
Message: Posted by: harris (Apr 30, 2007 11:00AM)
Many magicians play the role of bad magicians.

I did when I first started out. Both my acting and magic have improved a bit since I began in 73. My first roll er role was in a college variety show. I played the harmonica while standing on my head. My jaws harp got me my first sitting ovation.

The actor at work(Benedetti) is my lastest book on my night stand. The director I work with has been slowly going over the exercises. I must admit it has been on the back burner.

Although some know me as a "Coin Guy", I would prefer "Audience Guy".
Coming up this summer a role as Stanley in Smoke on the mountain. He's the one that just got out of prison. (Type casting????)
I actually auditioned for the Pastor Oglethorpe role...(he doesn't have to sing all the 18 songs) as at 53 memorizing lines is not as easy as it was back in 73.

Over the last few years, most of my shows have included improv's with suggestions from my audiences. Along the way I have had classes and joined an improv troupe for several seasons.

Along with acting...writing is important. Did 2 years of that on a comedy radio show.... Our director helped me tighten up my scripts...as I had a tendence to go from A,B, C to Z. On radio things needed to be spelled out a bit more.
Message: Posted by: The Great Smartini (May 1, 2007 12:08AM)
In the film "The Prestige" Ricky Jay plays the role of a magician playing the role of a magician...or was he just acting? Hmmmm?

Everyone needs a place to work out the kinks of their show. This takes time, work, reflection and a real live audience. I don't know how many top name magicians I've met have told me/us this.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (May 1, 2007 01:53AM)
Acting is the most important skill for a kids' entertainer, yes. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Kids STILL love big props, good magic, ventriloquism, music, and all kinds of entertainment. Once you've mastered acting, if you can put together a show that includes lots of variety, props, and entertainment, you will have a career for life. I see too many kids' entertainers who are good actors, have excellent magical abilities, but who think this means they only need a couple of silks and a TT to make a great show. I do a few "briefcase" shows for kids every month, and they go over very well. But a Flying Carpet ride, or my Flag Machine, are quite awesome, and the kids adore this kind of stuff.
Thinking that it's YOU who the kids' want to see is missing the point somewhat. Of course, you're the one who has to command their attention. But it seems slightly arrogant to think that your humour will appeal to the kids more than, say, a Flying Carpet ride. Done properly, they will love your presentation of effects like this, and also remember the illusion for the rest of their lives. If all you do is join some ropes together and vanish a silk, the kids will quickly forget your show.
Here is an analogy - I used to be an a capella busker (unaccompanied voice). The main problem I faced was the very limited repertoire of songs that were suitable for this type of presentation. I ended up with about 2 hours of material, and made a very good living. However, when I've sung with bands, orchestras, or choirs, there is suddenly a HUGE variety of material to choose from, basically anything you're capable of singing. I could perform for hundreds of hours, as I know thousands of songs.
In the same way, my feeling is that the variety of effects I carry for my "pack small play big" shows are very limited. Having three of four hours of material of this kind can take some time to put together. Dealer bought props are a godsend for the experienced actor, as indeed your acting skills will entertain, while the prop provides for content. I have a large collection of props, most of which I use regularly. They provide me with material for dozens and dozens of different shows.
My philosophy is this - make your show the best it can be. If your acting needs brushing up, then get on the case. If your props are looking shoddy, give them a facelift or replace them. Look at EVERY aspect of your show, and consider whether you're being arrogant in any respects. Sure, include a sleight-of-hand routine if you find it plays better than your other material, but never forget that kids love the visual elements of colour, and toys (props), as well as the much discussed silliness, interaction, mystery, and characterful performance.
Just my 2c
Doug.
Message: Posted by: Marvello (May 1, 2007 06:21AM)
[quote]
On 2007-05-01 02:53, Potty the Pirate wrote:
Acting is the most important skill for a kids' entertainer, yes. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Kids STILL love big props, good magic, ventriloquism, music, and all kinds of entertainment. Once you've mastered acting, if you can put together a show that includes lots of variety, props, and entertainment, you will have a career for life. I see too many kids' entertainers who are good actors, have excellent magical abilities, but who think this means they only need a couple of silks and a TT to make a great show. I do a few "briefcase" shows for kids every month, and they go over very well. But a Flying Carpet ride, or my Flag Machine, are quite awesome, and the kids adore this kind of stuff.
Thinking that it's YOU who the kids' want to see is missing the point somewhat. Of course, you're the one who has to command their attention. But it seems slightly arrogant to think that your humour will appeal to the kids more than, say, a Flying Carpet ride. Done properly, they will love your presentation of effects like this, and also remember the illusion for the rest of their lives. If all you do is join some ropes together and vanish a silk, the kids will quickly forget your show.
Here is an analogy - I used to be an a capella busker (unaccompanied voice). The main problem I faced was the very limited repertoire of songs that were suitable for this type of presentation. I ended up with about 2 hours of material, and made a very good living. However, when I've sung with bands, orchestras, or choirs, there is suddenly a HUGE variety of material to choose from, basically anything you're capable of singing. I could perform for hundreds of hours, as I know thousands of songs.
In the same way, my feeling is that the variety of effects I carry for my "pack small play big" shows are very limited. Having three of four hours of material of this kind can take some time to put together. Dealer bought props are a godsend for the experienced actor, as indeed your acting skills will entertain, while the prop provides for content. I have a large collection of props, most of which I use regularly. They provide me with material for dozens and dozens of different shows.
My philosophy is this - make your show the best it can be. If your acting needs brushing up, then get on the case. If your props are looking shoddy, give them a facelift or replace them. Look at EVERY aspect of your show, and consider whether you're being arrogant in any respects. Sure, include a sleight-of-hand routine if you find it plays better than your other material, but never forget that kids love the visual elements of colour, and toys (props), as well as the much discussed silliness, interaction, mystery, and characterful performance.
Just my 2c
Doug.
[/quote]Potty - you are 110% correct - thanks for articulating this. It needs to be a balance of acting skills, audience management/participation, great effects, and eye candy to be a show that they will remember.
Message: Posted by: harris (May 1, 2007 09:41AM)
Combining song parodies, musical instruments, acting and yes magic is a great way for me to be flexible and provide my consumers with interesting programs. Due to the improvisation...sometimes they are surprising even to me.

Latest parody songs start...
(Dixie)
Oh I wish I wasn't in this line at Wal-Mart
Lady with the blue hair with a check book forgot
Look away, Look away....
....
'(Ole Susanna)
Oh I come from Johnson County with a mortgage on my back

As I recall members of bands fees (at least on the local level)
weren't that good back in the 70's..Have they gotten better????



Harris
Message: Posted by: Prof. Alexander (May 1, 2007 11:44AM)
Hi

I think the important word here is magic.
An actor in a play can create magic.
A comedian can create magic
A musician can create magic
Etc.

Anybody can quote Shakespeare.
Anybody can crack a joke
A lot of people bash the hell out of guitars…..

And a lot of magician just do tricks!

It’s artists who create magic; some of them with all sorts of colourful props and expensive settings and some standing alone on an empty stage, some on the street and others in the front rooms of peoples houses.

But the magic comes from the person first and foremost.

I think this is the point Tony is making.

I just read over this and it sounds a bit pompous – I’ll post it anyway.

All the best
Prof. Alexander
Message: Posted by: Tony James (May 1, 2007 04:08PM)
Now then Professor. Once more you've hit the nail right on the head.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (May 1, 2007 04:16PM)
Well professor
I just answered your question to me at "knots and loops", and now that I see how much pride you take in your work we will get along just fine. Welcome to the magic Café my friend. Where are you from?
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (May 1, 2007 04:42PM)
Well I may as well take the plunge, as a fellow Englishman is already here....Tony! Tom Riddleton! My old friend Max saw you do a children's show a while back...must have been the late 90's? Wanted to come here and say: "Good show!"
I am a retired investigator, and though the BBC has made my ex-profession look rather romantic, may I say it was in no way such! I now do children's parties when I wish it, though my back may not! Max told me this was a great spot to meet fellow Englishman magi and to hob-knob with others from around the globe...is this true?
Tom
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (May 1, 2007 04:54PM)
Tom
Welcome to the magic Café, I'm not English, but I do speak it, kinda.
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (May 1, 2007 05:18PM)
[quote]
On 2007-05-01 17:54, Al Angello wrote:
Tom
Welcome to the magic Café, I'm not English, but I do speak it, kinda.
Al Angello
[/quote]
I also "kinda" speak English! We should get along quite well then! I see you are indeed a juggler. I used to be able to juggle clubs and knives quite well, twenty feet up in the air, actually, was my best hight I'm afraid. Have'nt done that in eons....used to have fun with that! Met my wife that way...threw up a club, and for whatever reason it came down funny, just slightly nicked her and her dad yelled "well, that's it son, you'll have to marry her now!"
After a very amusing conversation that everyone in the audience seemed to adore, we went on a date...and the rest is history!
Message: Posted by: Prof. Alexander (May 3, 2007 01:21PM)
Hi Al

Where am I from? Well, at the moment I am a teacher at the very famous, virtually unknown, and completely invisible, Irish school for young wizards, Frogspawn Hall.... or so the story goes! In my muggle form I am a Scotsman living in the Rep. of Ireland (for many years) having fun as a wizard.

I've had about 25 years experience as an actor, drama teacher and director and I have been known to write a bit now and again. I'm taking a bit of a break from all that at the moment and concentrating on building the professors character and magic skills.

I am delighted both yourself and Tony appreciated my last post.

Although I say that the magic comes from the person, and I do believe this is essentially an instinctive thing, I also believe (as you might expect) that training and building skills is essential. Performing is a craft and like all crafts many aspects of it can be learned. In future posts I hope to share and discuss many of the ideas I have on this subject with you all….

Sorry for taking so long in replying but I’m very busy at the moment.

All the best
Prof. Alexander
Message: Posted by: coolini (Nov 26, 2009 07:04AM)
That's a great post and I can't agree more with everything said,the magic Café is really full of great advices and I find this post very helping so I thought I would thank you guys for your comments and advice