THE School Assembly is a great source of shows for magicians and other entertainers across the country. For me The Magic of Safety school assembly program was very large part of my magic career. This was the show that started me down the path as a professional magician. I’ve already looked at the overall process of getting a corporately sponsored magic show up and running. Now I would like to go into more detail about the script itself.
My first step in creating The Magic of Safety was to decide my approach. I elected to take a Disney type approach where the show would be entertaining but would still have educational content. Educational content is very important as we would be offering this program as an elementary school assembly program. In order to justify time spent watching a magic show educational value was a major selling point. It was decided that since AAA focused on bicycle and pedestrian safety that’s where the focus would be. I began by listing the safety rules we wanted to hit during the presentation. To do this I pulled literature distributed by AAA as part of there safety education program. I then began to match the rules to magic tricks that I could use to illustrate the rules.
- Bicycles should travel the same direction as cars
- Always use both hands when riding a bicycle
- Use hand signals when turning
These 3 rules were magically produced form a metal tube by an invisible character I introduced named Sam the Safety Silkworm (named for my friend Sam Kent). When I read the safety rule regarding hand signals I used it as an opportunity to bring 3 children from the audience to demonstrate the 3 basic hand signals. At this point there was a lull in the energy so during our test run I developed the hand shaking comedy bit I still use today. It turned into one of the real highlights of the show and grabbed back the attention of the audience. I concluded this segment with by rewarding my 3 assistants. I would perform Slydini’s version of the professors nightmare. Three pieces of rope are cut the same length then become different lengths and then go back again. The 3 assistants were given the rope as a souvenir.
I then segued into the importance of traffic signals. Initially I used a cane that changed into the colors of the stop light finally changing into 2 yellow handkerchiefs. To add some continuity to the flow of the show I decided that I would open with the appearing cane which I then secretly switched for the cane that changed colors. Not only did this give me continuity it allowed me to use a very quick hit them between the eyes opener. This trick had to be maintained and replaced frequently so a few years down the road I switched to a magic trick with 3 balls the color of the stoplight which change colors. Magicians know this trick as Stratosphere.
I then mentioned that the rules of pedestrian safety and produced shiny silver balls each one that had an invisible pedestrian safety rule written on it. In retrospect it sounds a little lame but for some reason it worked.
The safety part worked out it was then time to work out the rest of the show. In appearing cane opener I decided to do something strong so selected the linking rings. To close the show I chose to levitate a silver sphere to music.
The show was now in place and in order. There was one last thing to do and that was to add the talking trash can to the mix. Previously the program AAA used was 2 talking bicycles. It was decided that using this mechanism as part of the safety show would provide something familiar for the schools. It may also have been done out of concern that I may stink. Today I would just use my Show Cues app to play the voice in 1974 this option did not exist. The solution was a modified 8 track tape player. Most people familiar with 8 track tape players did not know how they worked. They were designed to play 2 tracks of stereo music. When the tape reached a certain point a metallic strip would signal the player to change settings and play a different set of tracks. This could happen 4 times resulting in the playing of 8 tracks of music. It was a way to put more music on less tape. Our player was modified so that when it hit the metal strip in simply turned off. Thus I could talk to the trash can and when the segment of dialogue ended the tape would stop. To turn it back on I simply stepped on a foot switch. There was momentary delay between dialogue or music and my activating the switch so I used this so that I could be on the other side of the room when the trash can started to talk. To augment the vocals and draw attention to the trash can the sound would activate a light inside the can. Actually now that I reflect on this it was pretty amazing technology. I later used it to record show music.
I performed the linking rings near the beginning of the show and on conclusion of the trick I would toss the rings into the can with a loud thud. The trash can then shouted, “OW” and scolded me for not being more safe. this was my segue into the safety rules.
With script in hand it was submitted to Denver radio legend Don Martin the voice behind “Now you have friend in the diamond business”. Don used helium to record the trash cans voice and recorded the introduction and the end of the show.
As I mentioned in my last post rehearsal was essential to get down not only the magic but the segments of the talking trash can.
What a great experience this process was and it has served me well through the rest of my career.
This is part 3 in My Magic Journey series. If you missed them part 1 was My Magic Journey, part 2 Kids Magic, Constructing a magic show.
I still do school shows for more information check out Library and School Magic Shows.
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