Taking the stress out of your child's annual celebrations!

Posts tagged ‘magic’

The Magic of the Party Entertainer: That’s the way to do it!

It’s something I hear quite often in my work as a London children’s party entertainer: ” How do you do it?” I heard it asked of me today at a lovely local party for a  sweet five year old girl, it was followed by , “Do you have magic powers or something?”.

Magic powers? Maybe, if you consider energy to be magic powers.

Let me explain.

The mummy in question was intrigued at how I managed to have a bunch of five year old boys and girls sitting patiently waiting for a puppet show. There was no fighting, no screaming, no chaos, just calm anticipation and a big buzz of excitement going around the room too.

This question is asked of me often.

It is a wonderful feeling for me to walk into a party full of excited children and have them quickly sitting down, calm and focused and eager to participate in silliness and stories.
Do I have magical powers?

Not in the Harry Potter sense, no.

What I do have to my advantage is what I call ‘Stranger Power’ plus a certain calm assertive energy that is useful for leaders and dog owners!

 

Stranger power is something I’ve observed whilst I’ve been entertaining children over the past 18 years. What do I mean by it? Well, when I walk into someone’s home, I am expected to take control of the party . I become a stranger with a position of authority over the children. They see me as fun, ( I’m often found lying down with the children playing Sleeping Bunnies

See the little bunnies sleeping

as well as hopping up and down ) but they’re not totally sure of who I am .  Therefore they regard me with caution, rather than pushing the boundaries of someone that they are familiar with. So, if I ask the children to do something in a certain assertive tone, like magic they cooperate.

Children view me with a certain positive suspicion. My attire ( ribbons in my hair and very bright sparkly clothes)

Silly ribbons but serious about partying.

suggest a fun , possibly silly person, they see Party Entertainer/ storyteller/ puppeteer when they look at me,  which gets their playful juices flowing, but then they meet my energy.  After encountering the wonderful Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan on the television ( and becoming a total disciple) I’ve worked on maintaining  a calm assertive state when attending children’s parties. This works totally in my favour as I am able to direct the proceedings of the party  in a calm but fun way.

No one needs chaos. No one likes chaos.

Today I face painted butterflies and vampires on the faces of five year old’s .

The vampires ( boys in this instance) decided to chase the butterflies ( girls). Screams ensued as well as a little bit of chasing round the garden. I continued to paint faces until I heard the tone of the screams turn from excitement and fun to hysteria, then it was time to change the energy before the fun turned to tears.

I used my calm assertive energy ( and my god-given booming voice) to gather the children to sing happy birthday and calm was restored once more without the vampires feeling they had been reined in.

The secret is keeping control without the children being aware that that is what you are doing. Walking that tightrope  between keeping things calm and becoming a party pooper can sometimes be tricky, but I think I’ve got it down to a fine art now.

If that makes me magical, then so be it!

Abracadabra!

The Magic of Puppets

 

I’m not a great fan of magic; unless we’re talking Dynamo ( now he is just special).

You know what I mean, that flouncy, hand wafting, mis-directional camp affair that passes for performance on the Las Vegas stage. David Blaine used to intrigue me until he locked himself in a cube and went without dinner for a while. That killed it for me.

Most birthday party entertainers do some magic.

I don’t. Why is that?

I’m a terrible liar.

Without wanting to give the game away to those who really and truly believe in magic,  magic is all about lying. It’s about illusion, convincing people that stuff that is impossible is real.

To be a convincing magician, you have to be able to look people in the eye and say ‘That’s magic’, in inimitable Paul Daniels fashion. I’m not capable of that, I’m afraid.

If I did magic, I’d just want to tell children how it is done; that would make me a bit of a killjoy. I’d rather not. I’d rather stick to puppet magic.

I can’t even mislead children when they tell me that the puppets I use aren’t real. I agree, well, in a manner of speaking. I tell them that the puppet is real,  but that the animal /character isn’t real. After all, it would be really scary if the monkey puppet I was using was a real monkey, and a talking one at that. Now that would really freak me out, let alone a bunch of children. That honest explanation seems to put children at ease, especially when I explain that the puppet has to borrow my voice to speak. I’m  not a ventriloquist, nor do I try to be. I don’t find it necessary. For me the magical aspect of puppetry is that the puppeteer brings the puppet to life through belief. If the puppeteer believes in the puppet, the puppet will animate and be believable as a character in it’s own right.

As a child, my first experience of puppets was Mr Punch on the seafront at Skegness Beach.

Watching Mr Punch , age 5

Mr Punch in turn thrilled and repelled me. I couldn’t understand his squeaky raspy voice or why he was hitting Judy with his slapstick but I didn’t really care. What I saw was strange and fascinating and other-wordly. I was hooked.

Off to the beach with mummy.

Shari Lewis‘s Lamb Chop, the gorgeous sock puppet won my heart on our black and white television. Then with the advent of colour television came Basil Brush.

Basil Brush

Image via Wikipedia

He was real to me then and still is now. I cannot imagine Basil the lovely English gentleman fox with his distinguishing laugh      ( Ha ha ha ha ha ..BOOM BOOM!)

having a person attached to him. To my child’s eyes he wasn’t a puppet, he was just Basil : the fox that spoke. There was no other explanation needed.

Then along came Thunderbirds.

That show messed with my head.

Those puppets looked so real to me . I remember having a real problem working out whether they were real ( as in real actors) or not. I saw the awkward walk ( beautifully lampooned in Team America) and doubted my convictions , then they would put in a close up of a real hand operating machinery and I would be back to my original idea that they were indeed real people. So confusing.

I see this interesting quandary echoed on my children clients faces every time I enter into the magic of puppets. I can see their eyes questioning how real the puppets are every time they engage and invest in the puppet’s personality. When it all gets to much for them then they ask the question if they are real.

My answer satisfies them enough for them to still talk to the puppet once it is off my hand and back in the suitcase, shouting their goodbyes at the empty shell of the puppet.

Now that’s  the sort of magic I love.

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