Crazy adventures in magic?

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Postby Umpa Duze » 07/13/12 02:57 AM

I have been thinking back on some of my early experiences in magic and came across something I had written that reminded me of the following show. I would get a kick out of hearing others adventures in magic if you are willing to share.

In the early eighties I was performing in the SF Bay Area and was recruited by an agency to present a show at a local senior center. Unbeknownst to me, it was a home for cognitively impaired seniors suffering from Alzheimers and a variety of other psychoses. Below is an account of the experience

After the introduction, I began the performance showing a tube empty. At that moment a woman in the back row stood up and starting yelling Liar, Dirty Pig Liar repeatedly (I must have said it was empty). Fortunately, after a few moments two men dressed in prototypical white suits walked up behind her and lifted her over the back row hustling her off As she continued to shout liar dirty pig liar. Interestingly, the rest of the audience seemed remarkably indifferent to the scene and so I continued.

A few effects later I was producing volumes of spring flowers which were cascading to the floor when another woman, apparently touched by the magic, crawled to my feet picking up the flowers saying Flowers, pretty flowers over and over until help arrived and I presented her with a flower to take to her room.

Naturally at that point I was ready to get out of there and the next few effects occurred without incident until my finale. Seconds before the final climax/reveal, a gentleman in the front row stood up as I was holding my prop aloft and stepped right up to me to shake my hand for the wonderful show

That was the last show I did for that agency, but it is a wonderful memory of what can happen once the show begins.

Anyone else have an adventure in magic to share?
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 07/20/12 03:59 PM

Reminds me of a gig I did at local hospital for kids with learning difficulties. I was told the age range would be 4 - 20 but the mental age was more like 4-10 yr olds. So I was asked to perform my regular kids/family show.

I walked on stage and was just about to say hi when a 16 y/o kid from the back shouts up "Do the Full Monty" referring to the popular film telling the story of miners in the UK who when the mine closes turn to stripping.

I nearly cried laughing and certainly hadn't expected a heckle like that at a kids show.

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Postby Q. Kumber » 07/20/12 06:53 PM

Children and adults with mental disabilities and challenges do act differently to regular audiences, but their actions, to them are perfectly normal.

They are likely to interrupt verbally or physically at any time and this puts you off your timing.

In all the many shows I have done for these groups over the years I soon realised that unless a teacher or supervisor intervened, that behaviour was quite normal for that person.

Sometimes you will perform your show with practically no reaction at all and feel you have done badly yet the teachers will compliment you - sincerely - on how well you have done. For the group to just sit and watch a show for that length of time may be extraordinary for them.

There is a St John of God day centre in Dublin which every year takes a percentage of it's pulpils to live-in for a week, which gives their family an opportunity to have a holiday. They used book me on the last night to give a magic and Punch & Judy show. On this particular night a Down's Syndrome girl sat in the third row, simply glaring through the magic, not responding to anything.

During the Punch & Judy show, Mr Punch has just dropped the baby down the stairs and is denying his actions to his wife, Judy. Says Mr Punch, "Oh, no I didn't". The audience normally replies, "Oh, yes you did." Suddenly I hear a bellow from the audience, "Yes you did, you bastard, I saw you." I peek out and it is this same girl, standing on her chair with her arm in the air, and she continues, even more emphatically every time Mr Punch denies his guilt and her language became more choice as the show progressed.

I finish the show and the audience leave. The booker tells me that the girl had been there all week and that was the first time she spoke.

So don't worry about unusual interruptions, or the fact that you appear to be getting no response. The stimulus of your show may seem non-existent to you but have a profound effect on one, many or all of your audience.
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Postby Umpa Duze » 07/25/12 12:11 AM

I have worked with a number of organizations that serve children with a variety of disabilities and have really enjoyed the work. Q. Kumber is on the money in how we really do not know the effect of our work has. The same folks that booked me for the gig described above also sent me to do a school show for the Armenian (I thinkit was a long time ago) School in Richmond CA. I prepped my school show and went to the address. There I found a house. Yes, it was the school. I set up with my back against the bay window as fifty or so students crammed into the room. I almost had to do the whole show without moving my feet. We all had a good time.

I had another adventure working with a different promoter who promised a full stage in a community theater, only to arrive and find two picnic tables shoved together in the middle of the community center. Adapt or die : )
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