Tuesday, May 30, 2006

First Show of This Summer

I just finished my first performance of "Reading: Sport of Champions". It went well. Everyone in attendance seemed to like it and I had several people tell me that I am their favorite performer each year. Of course that is nice and I like to hear it. But...

I'm never really happy with my first ten performances. I can rehearse at the house, walk through the script, and even do dress rehearsals, but nothing really shakes a show out like doing it in front of a live audience. A REAL audience (no offense to my patient wife and daughter who lovingly watch my practice and rehearse far too many times).

I think the most frustrating part for me is that I know how good it is going to be by the end of the summer, but I simply don't know how to get there. I know that things will be revealed as I perform. Jokes will come to me, suddenly it will hit me that some prop should be placed on the other side of the stage from where I've been putting it. A new costume idea will hit me. All these things and more will no doubt come up, but I have to perform patiently and wait for them to be revealed.

Don't get me wrong, the show is good as it is. It is funny, it promotes reading, and it has some very strong tie ins with the theme. It will get even better, though. I am looking forward to watching it develop.

In some ways, it's like a child. You know they are going to grow, develop and change. But no matter how much you try to speed up or slow down the process, it will happen at it's own time.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

School is Out! Now things get BUSY...

May is always such a busy month for me. First of all, I stay pretty busy doing end-of-the-year reward parties and lots of programs to remind kids to read over the summer.

Then, like last night and the night before, I do events for High Schools. They host these all-night events with games, contests, music, food (oh-my-gosh the food...) and entertainment. So I get hired to come in and do a straight magic show. I don't get to do that much anymore since most of my stuff is all about motivating children, promoting reading, and educating kids about Texas History, Math, Science, Geography, and other such things.

As if this weren't enough, I am also supposed to be rehearsing a new show that I write from scratch each year and be ready to perform it in a few days. This is the show for my summer reading club. The theme this year is "Reading: Sport of Champions". I have been behind in this. I just got my posters in yesterday and I have to start performing the show on Tuesday. That gives me 3 days to rehearse.

I have to GO!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kids Say Funny Things

I perform a school assembly program about Texas History. Like all my shows it is a library show, a reading show. It promotes reading among children through the use of puppets, magic, stories, and engaging dialog.

Anyway, during one part of the show I ask the kids about the state tree, state bird, and the state mammals. Texas has three state mammals. FYI: The Longhorn, the Armadillo, and the Mexican Freetail Bat.

Anyway, I'm at this school and I ask the kids about the state mammals. One kid raises his hand, I call on him and he says "Longhorn". I congratulate him and tell him he is correct. The Large State Mammal of Texas is the Longhorn.

I then see another hand go up.

"Do you know the medium sized state mammal?" I ask.

"Aggie!" the kid yells with supreme confidence.

You gotta love kids!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Who Performs for a Professional Performer?

My daughter turned four today. She wanted a magician and quite frankly, Dad wasn't going to cut the muster. I have no problem admitting that there is really nothing that is too good for my daughter and we probably go overboard when it comes to her. Birthdays are really a good excuse for us to spend frivolously without guilt.

The best part is, that you can get top notch entertainment without paying a fortune. Don't get me wrong, it isn't cheap, by any means, but when a kid's party comes around once a year, I don't mind investing a few hundred dollars to create a memory that will last for the rest of her life.

So I called my good friend Trixie. Trixie Bond does about 400 birthday parties every year. She does more birthday parties in a month than most people will host in the course of their entire life. Trixie KNOWS how to put on a birthday party show that captivates kids, has adults choking back tears of sentiment, and has everyone rolling on the ground with laughter.

Yes, she's actually a competitor of mine. But she's such an amazing performer I have to sing her praises. When she puts smiles of excitement like this on my daughter's face I can't imagine a better investment of an afternoon. No wonder Trixie has been featured on the cover of magazines, and been invited to perform at the White House for two years in a row. If Trixie is good enough for the President of the United States, then she's probably good enough for my daughter.

If you live anywhere in The Greater Houston Area, give her a call at (281) 242-3020.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Wrapping Up Another Workshop

This year I tried something new.

For several years I've written a monthly column in one of the trade journals for professional performers (The Linking Ring) and I've gotten a lot of requests from performers who knew how to perform, but didn't really understand how I was able to create a viable business out of what I love doing.

So I put together a four-day workshop. For four days these people come into my home. They see first hand how my business is run. The get to learn all the ins and outs of every aspect of what I do. And this last group has pushed me hard.

I start as early in the morning as they want to start and we go until they are too tired to continue. They arrive here before sunup and I have coffee going. We eat breakfast here while I start answering any questions they have from the night before. We keep going all day, stopping to eat, but continuing to talk, practice, and work throughout the meal. Then they leave, sometimes as late as 11 pm, only to start again the next morning at 7 am or earlier!

It has been an amazing experience.

Everyone who has come so far has already asked when I'm doing it again. They all want to do it again next year. I've already been thinking about ways that we can improve it, getting more information in, more networking opportunities, and such. But we'll see.

It's not cheap to attend. But everyone who has come said they got enough the first day to make it worth more than the entire fee ($1,997.00)

I don't know if I'll do it again. It's pretty hard on me. But it is a real charge to get the phone calls and e-mails from graduates who go home and in just a few weeks double or triple their business. I love knowing that I am able to help people do what they love and successfully improve the lives of children at the same time.

I have to get to bed now. These lunatics are coming back over here in just a few hours....

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Petey the Opossum's New Clothes

Well, here he is. This is Petey the Oppossum. He's got on his All-Star baseball jersey, his cool matching baseball cap, a new pair of shoes, and his reading glasses.

I LOVE the glasses. They add so much character. I am very excited about working them into the show as well. I'm not sure how yet, but it will be interesting to see how it develops.

He also has a new get up for his participation in "Go Wild". Go Wild is the show I do on Science and the Scientific Process. He's got a vest like mine and a pith helmet. It looks good.

Lastly, he had to have a Hawaiian style shirt with a pair of sunglasses so he can try out for next year's presentation: "Set Sail".

We'll see how he does. Of course, I'll keep you posted.

By the way. If you haven't visited Petey's Web Site, you might want to do that. He shares a site with my other puppets and some live animals. The URL is www.DavidHopperfield.com

Monday, May 01, 2006

Mall Shopping for My "Sport of Champions" Puppets

I visit the mall once per year. In late November or Early December we'll go to the mall as a family and get pictures with Santa. Other than that, I won't step foot on Mall property. I don't like fighting crowds. I don't like extravagant prices, and I don't like most of the stuff they sell in malls.

But I went today. There is a store called "Build-a-Bear". The concept is that you buy an empty rag shell of a doll and then you stuff it yourself, toss in a tiny cloth heart, wash it off in an "air shower" and then buy clothes for the thing. It's a pretty cool concept. You get a birth certificate and everything.

Anyway, last Christmas I walked past the store and went inside. I saw all these amazing outfits and accessories in sizes that would fit my puppets. I fell in love. I thought "I'll visit the mall for this stuff".

And so I did.

It is amazing, too. Stuff is pretty cheap. You can get a pair of sunglasses for your doll or puppet for $4.00. A complete outfit is just $10. I went a little crazy. I brought my daughter (of course) and she helped me shop. We spent just over $70 on stuff, but you can't hardly buy a pair of jeans in the mall for $70 and I got a LOT of cool clothes for my actors.

The show I just finished creating is called "Reading: Sport of Champions". Ultimately it will become an educational assembly program on mathematics, that of course stresses the importance of reading.

In the meantime I had to get the guys decked out in new costumes. Of course, I found a bunch of stuff that I could add to some of my other programs as well. I'll try and shoot some pictures of the puppets with their new duds. I got reading glasses, baseball caps, a karate gi, plus a lot more stuff.

I love this store!