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Topic: A kid runs by and breaks my lota vase before the show?!?!?! What to do?
Message: Posted by: Chris Westfall (May 10, 2011 01:12PM)
So the other day I was doing a 1st communion 40 minutes show for the kids. It was about 60 kids in a huge banquet hall with a a couple hundred adults. The kids were wild and just running around the place as the parents mingled. I started setting up my show and had to kind of tell some kids to stay away from the stuff... Just before the show a kid runs by while playing tag or something and runs directly into my table with my lotta vase on it. (Can't get the same style which I loved.) He broke the vase water everywhere. The banquet hall cleaned it up and I did the show without that trick.

Just curious to what other people might do to keep kids away, how they would have reacted to a 60 dollar prop being broken by kids after you tried to get them to stop horse playing around the props?

Advice? Similar situations?
Message: Posted by: Full Effect Steve (May 10, 2011 01:23PM)
When I get to a room like that I always start by having one or two of the children help me put down a blue tape line. I then explain that I have to setup my show that the children need to stay on that side of the line. If as I am setting up I notice that there is still running on my side, I look for the person who hires me and explain that I just don't want anything to get knocked down or I don't want to accidently step on anyone while trying to setup (kids have a way of getting under you when you are not looking). It doesn't always work 100% but usually the kids will get the message especially if you let them help put the line down and then one or two of them will tell all the other kids that they need to stay on "that side of the line". I have even had children correct "grandma" or another adult for crossing the line. I try not to put any props on my table until the show is about to start just so that nothing gets knocked down. Hope that helps!
Message: Posted by: Chris Westfall (May 10, 2011 01:30PM)
I like that and I think I might just use it!!!! thanks
Message: Posted by: ColinDymond (May 10, 2011 01:31PM)
I Will sometimes put chairs around my "backstage" area to stop children coming in. It's quite good at keeping the crawling babies out too!
Message: Posted by: Julie Carpenter (May 10, 2011 02:25PM)
I have this problem with my bear - kids will steal him off my magic box and wander off with him.
Parents rarely stop them - then I mention the 200 price tag - and they get the kids to put him back, really, really, carefully
Message: Posted by: BIGmagiclV (May 10, 2011 02:51PM)
As I was reading this an idea popped into my head... How about carrying an air horn and as a kid approaches you activate it. This brings the situation to the parent's attention and spotlights their kids involvement. any thoughts?
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (May 10, 2011 03:12PM)
Grab a few chairs and stretch some Caution Tape between the chairs.

Make a zone.
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (May 10, 2011 04:13PM)
Great idea Steve. I only have a problem with one kid...he is a family friend, and wants to learn magic...but when he comes backstage h wants to handle everything...and is usually the kid in the front row saying that "he knows how to do that". Drives me nuts...but can't do too much about it.
Message: Posted by: jimhlou (May 10, 2011 06:00PM)
I have an air horn - it doesn't work. The kids will taunt you just to hear you blow the horn.

Jim
Message: Posted by: Alikzam (May 10, 2011 08:17PM)
They're kids. Speak with authority and tell them that you need space while you're setting up. I would also suggest only putting the props out on your table just before you're about to perform. That's what I do.

In some venue's a line of tape on the floor won't work either because the kids will want to cross the line just to tease you. But, in other venues such as libraries it works wonderfully. It usually depends on if the kids know each other or not. I stand at the point that I want the kids to sit, and tell everyone to sit behind my feet. The kids will creep forward slightly throughout the show, but with a little audience control you should be fine.

When I first started performing I had a wireless microphone receiver knocked off a table by a child running around. I've learned that its just part of the job. :)
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (May 10, 2011 09:51PM)
I carry a poisonous snake. That usually controls them.......

Actually, most kids are respectful if you ask them to stay back while you get ready. Sometimes I will even reward the little guy/gal by asking them to help me on stage.
Message: Posted by: dearwiseone (May 10, 2011 10:00PM)
A good venue can often begin with the confirmation letter, or booking agreement. Why did this booking go ahead with no demand or contract for a clear stage area, adult supervision, etc.? If it was in the contract, then why wasn't it enforced? Always make sure to specify things like that in your performance agreement. I once had a performance at the Four Seasons (a repeat performance, same corporation, different group of kids) where had trouble the time before and expected it again. I completely re-wrote my performance agreement to include specific areas where others were not permitted, and my contract stated that there were to be adult supervisors responsible for keeping kids off the stage. It worked beautifully, I wish I could have brought those workers to some of my other shows over the years!

When you arrive to the venue, and see that kids are running around your staging area (or anywhere close to it), that's the time to ask your contact at the event to have all the kids go somewhere else. Wait for them to leave your performance area. Then, and only then, you approach the stage, set up your things. Don't be afraid to forcefully (but politely) ask for what you need. (ie. "I'm sorry Mrs. Johnson, but I really can't keep setting up my stage area with all of those kids running around. I'm afraid something or someone might get hurt. I don't want to start the performance late, but I'm going to need the stage area clear before I can continue setting up.")

If you start setting up and still have kids coming over, stop setting up, and immediately inform your contact of the problem. Make it her problem, not yours. (of course, that's just the option I'd use if you aren't prepared upon arrival to start the performance)

Lots of this starts with the amount of respect you command. Why doesn't David Copperfield have kids running all over his stage? Why are some entertainers able to keep kids back with just a piece of tape on the floor, and others can't yell loud enough? Just a thought.

With smaller crowds, I take a more active role in discipline. With larger crowds, you don't even worry about it, just work through your contact, have them do the work, let them be the "bad guy," you aren't there to babysit, you're there to perform and entertain.

I hope you learned your lesson! Best wishes!
-Kevin
Message: Posted by: harris (May 11, 2011 10:10AM)
First thought was insurance.
Second was set up management.
Third was I am glad I have a metal lota.
Fourth was a time during my early days when a young lad tugged on my first vent doll. (Jerry Mahoney)

Yes, the whole leg came off in his hand.

I make set up a part of my warm up. If I really have to leave ask a reliable adult to watch anything already set up.

Though I am there to perform, as a counselor in a school as my regular gig, I take the opportunity to have teachable moments during those events that can and do happen. If you perform things can go ugly. How you respond is as important as your "show time". We don't have to be a bad man/girl when we discipline.

Good point to learn from things that happen. ...As the saying goes ..if it doesn't kill you, you can write a routine around it.

Harris
nearly normal reader and "righter"
Message: Posted by: zimsalabim (May 11, 2011 10:32AM)
Barbed Wire
Message: Posted by: Payne (May 11, 2011 11:02AM)
This is why when I do House Parties I work out of my case. There's no set up or break down time and no chance of kids handling or breaking my props.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (May 11, 2011 01:37PM)
[b]Payne just said what I was going to say.[/b]
Message: Posted by: Chris Westfall (May 12, 2011 08:51PM)
Some good ideas. I have in the past asked a kid or to to make sure that no kids come near the table and when kids try that kid will stop them, it feels like he is part of the show!
Message: Posted by: Chris Westfall (May 12, 2011 08:53PM)
But what about a broken prop that might be expensive and the fault is on purpose by a child. what do you do? ask the event to pay for that expensive prop or take it as a loss because its part of the job.
Message: Posted by: dearwiseone (May 12, 2011 09:30PM)
Chris,
It all depends what your contract/performance agreement said. Legally, you'd be fighting a very tough battle. Morally, if you specified in your performance agreement that there was to be an adult or multiple adult supervisors at all times to protect and keep clear the stage area, and if it was their responsibility to ensure the safety of the props, then by all means, explain how they fell short and ask for the compensation.

If not, chalk it up to experience, count this one as a loss, and don't take any more expensive props to kids shows!

Best Wishes!
Message: Posted by: Chris Westfall (May 13, 2011 10:41AM)
[quote]
On 2011-05-12 22:30, dearwiseone wrote:
Chris,
It all depends what your contract/performance agreement said. Legally, you'd be fighting a very tough battle. Morally, if you specified in your performance agreement that there was to be an adult or multiple adult supervisors at all times to protect and keep clear the stage area, and if it was their responsibility to ensure the safety of the props, then by all means, explain how they fell short and ask for the compensation.

If not, chalk it up to experience, count this one as a loss, and don't take any more expensive props to kids shows!

Best Wishes!
[/quote]

it wasnt an expensive prop! but it did get me thinking for the future if there was a pricey prop present. lol ....... pricey prop present that sound funny.

thanks , I will take that in consideration to add to my contract.
Message: Posted by: tgs (May 13, 2011 11:47AM)
[quote]
On 2011-05-12 22:30, dearwiseone wrote:
Chris,
It all depends what your contract/performance agreement said. Legally, you'd be fighting a very tough battle. Morally, if you specified in your performance agreement that there was to be an adult or multiple adult supervisors at all times to protect and keep clear the stage area, and if it was their responsibility to ensure the safety of the props, then by all means, explain how they fell short and ask for the compensation.

If not, chalk it up to experience, count this one as a loss, and don't take any more expensive props to kids shows!

Best Wishes!
[/quote]

Actually, legally it's a pretty simple battle. If the kid intentionally (and without permission) ruins the prop, his parents would be liable for replacing it. You're not likely to get an argument from most parents, although it would rarely be worth the expense to take legal action against holdouts. Under United States law, children old enough to understand they are misbehaving ARE liable for their intentional torts (with limited exceptions).
Message: Posted by: Powermagic (May 13, 2011 01:06PM)
Tgs- LAWS SNOMZ. Most entertainers are not going to ruin good will by fighting the parents for money even if it is the legal. Parents think their kids are angels even when they create the problem.
Contracts smontracts- I have in mine space is to be free and clear ,ready for the performer BEFORE I arrive. Does not happen most of the time, even is schools/ What can you do? YOu are not going to be be angry at them since it makes you look like a jerk...

If my P&L Lota hit the floor I am sure how I would handle it. Parents feel they have less control over their kids when not watching them like in a hall.


I have just been doing this long enough to not put anything out I do not have to if I have to leave the space or I am right there always on watch. Yes indeed, kids and running, they love to do it until they have to in gym class. But at that age they are zipping about and I usually only have to talk to them once.
However they are KIDS and can not reason well so when in the moment I see them forget until I step out.

Sometimes I get an adult to calm them down.
That is the real key, just explaining to those with more power that you have to keep this space free and that is when the running has to stop. Most parents know how wound up kids get and do not like it either.


Durning my show can also be an issue with wondering 2 year olds. They are sneaky and curious. I work so much harder when I have to keep my eye on them as well as perform.
I will talk to them which usually scares them off for a bit but then they might come back. They are the ones that can pull on and tip things.
Amazing how cute parents think it is until they get too grabby. Sometimes the parents do not get the hint to hold them back. They seem to rather have their bra...I mean precious angel, distract the audience rather than have them scream since they want to be free to toddle about.

BTW tape does not stop a toddler....
Message: Posted by: idomagic (May 14, 2011 01:03AM)
In the rare instances I show up and the kids are out of control and I need time to set up on a banquet floor or other terrible location, I break out the police line tape and stretch between a couple or few chairs. It looks cool to the kids, and it get's them to slow down around it.

http://www.amazon.com/Police-Plastic-BARRICADE-TAPE-Halloween/dp/B0001CUMGO

However, verbal and non-verbal communication is also a very good method.
Message: Posted by: peppermeat2000 (May 14, 2011 09:56PM)
The advice Payne suggested (and backed up by Mr. Biro) is the best solution when performing in this context. Setting up a makeshift performance area is eventually going to lead to broken props and fuming tempers.Ideas like the bullhorn or police tape can sometimes backfire and draw more curious kiddos closer to where you really don't want them to be. How many gigs can all of us recall where the space designated for the "Magic Show" was a small corner in the family room or a spot on the floor (no riser or stage) where the audience would be running around hyped up on chocolate and soda pop????
I finally decided to use the "act from the suitcase" idea a few years back and boy am I glad I did!
At first I was afraid that it would prevent me from performing the effects I traditionally needed to set up on a small table prior to the act but with a little ingenuity and the right size suitcase, nothing has changed from my act...except for the headaches I used to get from the pre-show set up!
Message: Posted by: makeupguy (May 14, 2011 10:16PM)
An unbreakable liquid trick you can't spill.. and kids can't really break... and you give them the caffeine will take effect AFTER the show.. so the parents have to deal with it!!

http://www.wack-o-magic.com./wackomagic/topsy_turvy.html

Sorry for the thread Hijack.. but making the parents deal with the caffeine is totally worth it!.. there are are a limited number left..and I probably won't make more for a year or so.
Message: Posted by: randirain (May 14, 2011 10:53PM)
The best way to keep kids away while setting up is...

Bring a small wooden cutting board and put it on your table.
Then get the biggest Bowie knife you can find....
Scream as you stab it into the cutting board,
then yell, "I dare anyone to get anywhere close to my table!!"

That works every time.
Message: Posted by: dearwiseone (May 14, 2011 11:22PM)
[quote]
On 2011-05-13 12:47, tgs wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-05-12 22:30, dearwiseone wrote:
Chris,
It all depends what your contract/performance agreement said. Legally, you'd be fighting a very tough battle. Morally, if you specified in your performance agreement that there was to be an adult or multiple adult supervisors at all times to protect and keep clear the stage area, and if it was their responsibility to ensure the safety of the props, then by all means, explain how they fell short and ask for the compensation.

If not, chalk it up to experience, count this one as a loss, and don't take any more expensive props to kids shows!

Best Wishes!
[/quote]

Actually, legally it's a pretty simple battle. If the kid intentionally (and without permission) ruins the prop, his parents would be liable for replacing it. You're not likely to get an argument from most parents, although it would rarely be worth the expense to take legal action against holdouts. Under United States law, children old enough to understand they are misbehaving ARE liable for their intentional torts (with limited exceptions).
[/quote]

tgs,
I'm sorry, but I think you're way off. I'm guessing you don't have insurance? It would be nearly impossible, if not impossible for you to sue for damages. I don't know if you've ever been through court cases, but you would have to submit evidence indicating so many different things from intent, liability (and/or release of liability), damages sustained, witnesses...trust me, it would be a very, very, very difficult case to win. In fact, I would say there is a higher chance of you being sued if the child or property sustained damages from the child knocking over your prop!

It's not as easy as saying the child intentionally broke your prop. Whether or not the act was intentional, you have to prove it to the court! Besides establishing fault (which could be nearly impossible, there had to have been multiple witnesses), you would then have be trying to prove intent!

Regardless of whether you or I are right, I think Chris learned his lesson, and let's be grateful most of us will never have to deal with this matter of legality!
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (May 15, 2011 03:23AM)
This is another good reason to host the whole party. I get to set up before the kids arrive, and at most there are just the Birthday kid and a couple of siblings and friends.
I also hand balloons to the kids as soon as they arrive at the party (and give them to early arrivals as soon as they get there). This gets them "on your side", which means it's easy to keep them "off your side" when you need.
Having a backdrop also helps - as has been mentioned, you can simply place chairs across the space from the backdrop to the side walls, to create a barrier. This works for me.
;)
Message: Posted by: kimmo (May 15, 2011 03:31AM)
I keep all my props apart from 4 silks in two closed trunks. They only come out when they are being used, then are returned afterwards.
Message: Posted by: terry herbert (May 15, 2011 07:09AM)
For private birthday parties I either arrive and set up before the kids arrive and strike while they are having their tea or arrive during their tea and set up while they are out of the way and strike when they are leaving at the end of the party.

If it is a different situation I explain to the adults that in line with health & safety laws and the fact that I have electrics (my PA system which is in fact perfectly safe)it is essential that they keep the children away from my set up area.
It usually works.
Message: Posted by: Chris Westfall (May 15, 2011 01:33PM)
[quote]
On 2011-05-14 23:53, randirain wrote:
The best way to keep kids away while setting up is...

Bring a small wooden cutting board and put it on your table.
Then get the biggest Bowie knife you can find....
Scream as you stab it into the cutting board,
then yell, "I dare anyone to get anywhere close to my table!!"

That works every time.
[/quote]
LOL
Message: Posted by: REV BILL (May 19, 2011 02:26PM)
I don't leave things out but if they break a prop I usually march into their room and bust one of their toys.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (May 30, 2011 12:57PM)
[quote]
On 2011-05-10 19:00, jimhlou wrote:
I have an air horn - it doesn't work. The kids will taunt you just to hear you blow the horn.

Jim
[/quote]

I carry a stun gun at the show at all times; paralyze one kid for a few minutes and the remaining kids listen to everything you say.

The parents love it

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