How to Create a Kids Show Faster

Let’s talk about getting YOUR show together.

I had an epiphany and it’s this: magicians, just like children, need boundaries. What I mean is that just like when you impose boundaries upon children, when you tell them what they can and cannot do, they will kick and scream in protest. But later in life as adults, they’ll say they are really glad that their parents imposed those strict boundaries, that it made them more resourceful and creative, that they feel they are much better because of it.

As a magician putting together a show, when you have such a vast array of materials and effects at your fingertips (especially these days), it can seem like an impossible task to narrow it down to the right effects and routines for you. It’s like a river that fans out into a delta and becomes a slow-moving marsh because the water has no walls to concentrate its energy. Contrast that to a mountain stream coursing through a canyon. The water has such power and focus and direction.

In a similar way, I have always found it better to impose constraints upon myself when building a show to focus my energy.

The easiest way to do this is through the physical constraint of the container that my show goes in. As you probably know, I am a real fan of the container, be that a box or a bag. In fact, I even name my shows after it—the Big Red Box of Magic, the Bag of Incredibility, the Little RED Bag of Fun.

This is the easiest way I have found to get a show up and running in front of paying customers simply because it focuses my attention on tricks that can physically go into the box.

But what about all those wonderful tricks I won’t be able to include? Again, the tricks are not the show. You are the show. You can make another show later and use those bigger tricks, or you can be creative and make larger props fit into a smaller space.

Of course sizes and measurements are not the only boundaries you can use to focus your search for the tricks that are right for you. Having a theme or character will also help you determine your choices.

The tricks are not the show. You are the show.
If you are a pirate character for example, your props and routines are instantly narrowed down to a solid choice of performance-proven routines that fit the character. Of course you can be creative and make almost any trick fit your pirate act, but starting will be easier for you because you already have an idea which routines and costumes work for the character, which words you can use for your script, even which jokes will be appropriate.

Or maybe you want to do education-themed shows. Subjects like environmental science and reading can all narrow down your choices, which speeds up the process of creating a show and getting it in front of paying customers.

You can also use other themes—colours for example (the RED show), letters (M for Magic Show), and animals (a zoo theme perhaps). This sort of thinking will help you decide faster which things go into your show.

If you do choose to go with the physical box route like I did, don’t pay money on a box just yet. Just get a cardboard box in the size you think will work for you. What size is that, you ask? Let’s get down to a really nuts and bolts level here. The first thing you have to do is transport the box. Will it fit comfortably in your car? Will you be able to get the box out without taking all the skin off your knuckles?

Placing certain restrictions upon yourself will help you come up with shows faster—shows that will put money in your pocket.
Maybe you take public transport. I know a magician in Spain who rides his pushbike to gigs. He has cleverly made his show work for these parameters. Necessity is the mother of invention.

And remember this is all changeable. Nothing is set in stone. Trial and error will not only make you stronger, more resilient, and more creative; it will also lead you to what’s perfect for you.

I really do think that placing certain restrictions upon yourself will help you come up with shows faster—shows that will put money in your pocket. It’s all about focusing your energy.  Just like those kids who grew up and thanked their parents for imposing strict guidelines on them when they were young, you may one day look back and thank yourself for taking a tough stance right at the beginning.