David Kaye and Children's magic

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Postby Bill Mullins » 10/26/04 03:47 PM

David Kay, in the Sept issue, had a big article on some historical aspects of performing for children. He laid out the case that performing for kids as a speciality grew from Gospel magic, and it did so around the turn of the century.

The Brookly Public Library has an online, searchable, full text file of the Brooklyn Eagle from 1841 to 1902. It only took a little while to find reference to performing for kids in a non-Gospel setting.

6/11/00 "Children's Day"
"The teachers and pupils of the [Lynbrook, Long Island] High School were the guests of Hamilton King Saturday afternoon. The members of the school assembled in the school grounds and marched to the residence of Mr. King, wehre they were entertained by a band of Japanese jugglers, five in number. The children were highly amused by the clever tricks of the magicians."

There were also numerous references to church-sponsored magic shows, but never any reference (that I found) to using magic to advance the message.

I think Kaye did some excellent research on the origins of Gospel magic. I'm not sure he proved that it was the first magic for children.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/26/04 07:35 PM

I would say that a group of Japanese jugglers doing magic tricks for schoolchildren during a tour does not constitute what we have come to understand as "children's magic."
And, just because the references to magic shows in churches didn't include the information that the shows were "informational" doesn't mean that the shows weren't--it wouldn't seem to be necessary to go into the details of the shows themselves and the actual religious information conveyed.
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Postby Matthew Field » 10/27/04 04:31 AM

Just to expand on what Richard said, David Kaye's main, and most interesting, point was that the magic we've come to associate in the U.S. as "children's magic," as opposed to magic performed for children, has its roots in gospel magic. David's point was that children's magic in the U.K. and other countries has its roots elsewhere, notably Punch and Judy and its precursors such as commedia dell'arte.

It is interesting to note that Japanese jugglers were entertaining U.S. schoolkids at the turn of the century but, as Richard noted, that's hardly what David Kaye was writing about.

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Postby Guest » 10/27/04 08:39 AM

Interesting that an earlier,(and too long) thread questioned using magic as a means to attract people to present Gospel messages.
Reading David Kaye's article, it seems this was one of the early forms of magic, directed to children, later used by secular performers.
So the Gospel magicians,vents, and puppet performers, may not have appropiated magic, for themselves, as their critics may claim, but rather were there early on, with others following them.
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