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Topic: Effective Storytelling During A Magic Trick
Message: Posted by: General_Magician (Jan 8, 2014 08:38PM)
One of the things that came out of my rehearsals that I need to improve upon is effective storytelling in one of my magic tricks that I perform. I do a good job of making the magic trick amazing, however, the story telling aspect is weak. The trick that needs more effective story telling that I perform is Dean's Box. Not sure how many of you are familiar with Dean's Box. So, what are some tips on how to integrate effective story telling into a magic trick?
Message: Posted by: wwhokie1 (Jan 8, 2014 10:50PM)
What age kids are you performing for? I don't think Dean's Box makes a very good routine for kids unless they are older, like maybe 9 years or older. It just takes too much thinking to realize what is happening for it to come across as magical for younger kids. When ropes disappear into a box, a six or seven year old doesn't find it magical that they come out linked together, it is too conceptual and not visual enough.
Message: Posted by: Mr. Danny (Jan 8, 2014 11:41PM)
While I have been doing Street Magic, I have found that Very Short stories can work. To me it seems todays kids have a Very Short attention span.
Message: Posted by: General_Magician (Jan 9, 2014 12:08AM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-08 23:50, wwhokie1 wrote:
What age kids are you performing for? I don't think Dean's Box makes a very good routine for kids unless they are older, like maybe 9 years or older. It just takes too much thinking to realize what is happening for it to come across as magical for younger kids. When ropes disappear into a box, a six or seven year old doesn't find it magical that they come out linked together, it is too conceptual and not visual enough.
[/quote]

I did my rehearsal for a good friend of mine's family. I have known him since I was a kid and we both grew up together going to the same schools and living in the same neighborhood. So, I wanted to rehearse in front of him and his family and he has children. The children I will be performing for is between 4-9 years old. His children really seemed to enjoy Dean's Box the way I performed it (I took the concepts that Silly Billy teaches and applied it to my performance of Dean's Box and the kids really seemed to enjoy the trick and the way I presented it). After the rehearsal, I wanted to name several things that was good about my rehearsal and several things that needed improvement, no matter how good the show seemed to be.

My buddy said the trick was great and the kids enjoyed it, but he felt story telling could be a little better with this particular trick (he has no idea how the trick is done and was amazed by it). So, when I got home, I went back and reviewed Silly Billy's DVD on the section about story telling and I think I have an idea already how to improve the story telling part of this trick. However, I like to hear if other magicians could add some of their input that Silly Billy might not have to offer on his DVD as well as far as improving on storytelling when presenting a magic trick, in particular a magic trick presented to children between the ages 4-9.

Edit: I forgot to add an important part when it comes to my performance of Dean's Box for 4-9 year olds. I do not use the metal ring in the trick when presenting this trick to this age group. The reason for this is to keep it simple and easy to understand. This would also make the plot of any story that is performed with this trick simple and easy to understand as well. So the plot is to magically make two ropes interlock (the red and the white rope). The metal ring is never brought out when I perform this trick for this particular age group and I never used the metal ring during the performance of the trick in my rehearsal. I also use two children as volunteers to help me with the performance of the trick that way I am involving the children in the trick.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Jan 9, 2014 10:34AM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-09 00:41, Mr. Danny wrote:
While I have been doing Street Magic, I have found that Very Short stories can work. To me it seems todays kids have a Very Short attention span.

[/quote]

Yes and no. You are talking about two different things here. I can see how being a very short story could be important for street magic (and drunks). But kids can have a longer attention span than you might think if the story is engaging. in another thread ("Making an object reappear") I discuss a story I tell during a trick. That story is relatively long, but it works because it engages the kids with questions ("Guess who was standing at the door?"), it is a story they can relate to (ordering and eating a pizza), and I use a lot of animation and enthusiasm as I tell the story (the most important element, IMO. A huge percentage of magicians simply have zero personality in their shows and think that the trick is enough to carry them through).

So those would be my suggestions: make the story engaging, relate-able, and use an enthusiastic personality.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Jan 9, 2014 10:55AM)
I can, and do, entertain kids for an hour with nothing but stories. One of my favourite stories takes half an hour to perform. So kids will listen to a story, if it is good.

My advice is to watch both stand-up comics and storytellers, and see how they are doing it. Storytelling is an art form in itself, and is different from comedy. Silly Billy is very good on comedy. But he is not a storyteller, that is not what he is selling in his show. You need to see actual storytellers for a while, and get into the different rhythm they have. For one thing, a story is not a cute little addition to a trick. It is an essential fabric the trick is woven into. I do a routine with a ribbon vanishing and reappearing (thumb tip). It lasts ten minutes, and if by chance the trick failed miserably (never happened) the story would still stand and the kids would still be entertained. The story is as important as the trick if you are going down that route.

Magic tricks are generally performed at a fast pace, while stories are generally told at a slow pace. That could be the problem; you might not be gelling the two performing styles properly. You might be rushing the story to get to the magic, in fear that the kids will lose interest and get bored. But if you slow down, draw the kids into the story, and trust it, that might help.

Without seeing a clip of the trick, it is difficult to say much more. Best of luck.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Jan 9, 2014 11:10AM)
Excellent points Tony! Viewing it as a story with a trick as opposed to a trick with a story is probably the best advice that will be offered here that nobody will follow (yes, I know I oversimplified your idea that they are both important elements).

Let me clarify that when I say "enthusiasm" is does not mean to be manic. You can, and should, pace the story. Adjust your volume, change the speed, draw the audience in.
Message: Posted by: harris (Jan 9, 2014 12:23PM)
My experience taught me it is ok to be manic at times during a story.

As I grew as an entertainer, there are also times to use a lowered tone and speed. Laughter and screaming kids are not everything. Drawing folks (kids included) into your story & world.....priceless
Message: Posted by: General_Magician (Jan 9, 2014 12:36PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-09 11:55, TonyB2009 wrote:
I can, and do, entertain kids for an hour with nothing but stories. One of my favourite stories takes half an hour to perform. So kids will listen to a story, if it is good.

My advice is to watch both stand-up comics and storytellers, and see how they are doing it. Storytelling is an art form in itself, and is different from comedy. Silly Billy is very good on comedy. But he is not a storyteller, that is not what he is selling in his show. You need to see actual storytellers for a while, and get into the different rhythm they have. For one thing, a story is not a cute little addition to a trick. It is an essential fabric the trick is woven into. I do a routine with a ribbon vanishing and reappearing (thumb tip). It lasts ten minutes, and if by chance the trick failed miserably (never happened) the story would still stand and the kids would still be entertained. The story is as important as the trick if you are going down that route.

Magic tricks are generally performed at a fast pace, while stories are generally told at a slow pace. That could be the problem; you might not be gelling the two performing styles properly. You might be rushing the story to get to the magic, in fear that the kids will lose interest and get bored. But if you slow down, draw the kids into the story, and trust it, that might help.

Without seeing a clip of the trick, it is difficult to say much more. Best of luck.
[/quote]

Do you know of a few clips I can watch of good story tellers? Also, do you know of any clips or learning material that teaches good story telling for that particular age group? Since we are on the subject of story telling, what is some good material I can use to be a great story teller for any age group or for adults?
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Jan 9, 2014 12:51PM)
Here are three of my favourite traditional storytellers. I have had the pleasure of working with the last two:
storytelling actually is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TMBGCQu8q0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZD4PQRp8mY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Im-lKGj8PM

And here are some modern ones, who have turned storytelling into stand-up comedy. It shows how the art can be adapted, though it might not be for kids!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ii6KY87xwWI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4u_X459gOY

Finally, this is my effort, a Grimm classic updated: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RABc6I7OVpM

There are probably plenty of resources on the internet, but I learned through working for six weeks with John Row, and through watching Eddie Lenihan. I love storytellers, and will travel quite a distance to listen to a good one. But that is just me, I am afraid. My kids prefer stand-up comics.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Jan 9, 2014 01:13PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-09 13:23, Harris wrote:
My experience taught me it is ok to be manic at times during a story.

[/quote]

Of course. But it doesn't have to be limited to that. A story can have excitement, and humor, fast paced, slow paced, loud, almost down to a whisper ... variety helps sensory simulation.
Message: Posted by: harris (Jan 9, 2014 04:33PM)
Yes, we can and should touch on all those emotions I am guessing
You workers have heard this.
" I really liked how you kept them on the edge of
Their seats. And the way you could get them going and then bring
Them down and quiet.

Harris
Still to old to know it all....
Message: Posted by: Mr. Danny (Jan 9, 2014 09:41PM)
Hmmmm. Good points all!
Message: Posted by: General_Magician (Jan 9, 2014 10:26PM)
I have been watching some youtube videos on effective storytelling to children but I wouldn't mind knowing effective storytelling to adults as well. Right now, the simplest I can boil down the elements to a story is Context, Characters, Conflict and Conclusion. So, I have to figure out a Context and Characters that children will be famaliar with and then tie the ropes and the wooden box in the trick Dean's Box into the story. Here is a video I am also watching on storytelling which I think could prove useful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFC-URW6wkU .

Edit: I have been watching the youtube video I just posted in this post and the guy told a pretty good story! I liked listening to him.
Message: Posted by: General_Magician (Jan 9, 2014 11:52PM)
Wow this is a good video to watch on storytelling. I especially like how this guy explains the ways to get your listeners into the storylistening trance. Such as invoking memories in your listeners, the listeners are physically and emotionally comfortable while listening, the teller's involvement in his story, storyteller develop a rapport with his listeners before telling the story, personal preferences of the story teller and listeners, the novelty and/or familarity of the story and the teller's style for telling a story. Really cool stuff. It's amazing how much psychology goes into storytelling. The last story is the best story of all in this video. He talks about the most powerful thing somebody can become.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Jan 10, 2014 06:57AM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-09 13:51, TonyB2009 wrote:
Here are three of my favourite traditional storytellers. I have had the pleasure of working with the last two:
storytelling actually is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TMBGCQu8q0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZD4PQRp8mY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Im-lKGj8PM

And here are some modern ones, who have turned storytelling into stand-up comedy. It shows how the art can be adapted, though it might not be for kids!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ii6KY87xwWI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4u_X459gOY

Finally, this is my effort, a Grimm classic updated: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RABc6I7OVpM

There are probably plenty of resources on the internet, but I learned through working for six weeks with John Row, and through watching Eddie Lenihan. I love storytellers, and will travel quite a distance to listen to a good one. But that is just me, I am afraid. My kids prefer stand-up comics.
[/quote]


Great pick of videos, although I'm not sure many here will get Kevin Macaleer!

I was expecting one of them to be Dave Allen, there's a man who could tell a story.
Message: Posted by: Bazinga (Jan 10, 2014 04:16PM)
Are you basing your new need on the comment of ONE parent? If so, why?

You said you did the routine for one parent and his kids. How many kids, two, three?

If you've done it many times and the kids reaction is always good, maybe you don't need to change it. Or maybe you might think about only changing a little of it. If lots and lots of kigs like it and react positively to it, it's obviously working.

Bazinga!
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Jan 10, 2014 10:54PM)
Dave Allen was great. I made the kids watch a special on BBC of his stuff over Christmas and even the new generation got it. Wonderful entertainer.
Message: Posted by: harris (Jan 11, 2014 06:58AM)
Other elements could include; repetition, surprise and repetition.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Jan 11, 2014 09:21AM)
And they like repetition.

Kids really do. It empowers them to know what's going to happen. And seeing something again allows the really little ones to know what is expected of them since they've seen it before.
Message: Posted by: harris (Jan 11, 2014 10:00AM)
I use my instruments in story telling.
During one I play with my mouth wide open.
Then I just blow and draw, pause and say, I call that song , The I don 't know how to play
The harmonica song.
Later in the story I talk about my wife giving me a
Ukulele. Then I play random notes and chords.
Pause and say, I call that, pause and. Love it when several
People say " the I don't know how to play the
Ukulele song.
Message: Posted by: Bluesman (Jan 20, 2014 06:15PM)
General_Magician, did you come up with a story for your Dean's Box?