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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Everything old is new again » » History of magic for children (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Joshua Lozoff
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Chapel Hill, NC
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Don't know if this is the right spot for this question, but I'm wondering if anyone knows how magic became entertainment for children, and how long that's been going on. It's arguably the most common form of magic, yet it seems a strange combination, considering how powerful an art magic used to be. I imagine performing magic for children is a relatively new thing, only a few hundred years or so, but I have no info about that. Anybody?
Joshua Lozoff

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Brian Lehr
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Edmonton, Canada
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I don't have the book with me right now, but Silly Billy gives a good history of children's magic in his new book "Seriously Silly". Sorry I don't remember the details.

Brian
Joshua Lozoff
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Chapel Hill, NC
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Any idea just of when and where people started doing magic for kids?
Joshua Lozoff

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Jonathan Townsend
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Ossining, NY
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Somewhere not long after people started being social, like a LONG LONG time ago, before writing was invented.
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Bill Palmer
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In Lord of Legerdemain: The Renaissance Magick of MarcoM the Mountebank, there is a routine for the serpentine silk.

The following lines are in the script:

And Pharaoh remarked unto Moses: "Very good. Dost thou do children's parties?"

And Moses replied: "I would rather make bricks without straw."
"The Swatter"

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Jaxon
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In the September 2004 issue of Genii Magazine there's a great article titled "The Origins of Performing Magic for Children" by David Kaye. Maybe you can pick up a back issue of that because it's a very good article.

It talks about the origin of performing magic for kids in America as well as in the United Kingdom. You'll find it very interesting how different it was in the two countries.

The best point I got from the article is that compared to performing for adults, performing magic for kids is fairly new. I'll share a small portion of that:

Quote:
Compare the publication date of The Discovery of Witchcraft in 1584 to the appearance of The art of Conjuring TO Children in 1930. Our magic for young people is very young, indeed. This means that we children's magicians are now performing during the infancy of the art form. Our art is at the time of publication, only 75 years old. Who are the Robert-Houdins, Hofzinsers, and Hermann's of Children's magic? We are. We are here at the beginnings of the profession. This is a great time to be a kid show magician. We are laying the foundation for generations of children's magicians to follow.


That's basically the summary of the article and I found it very interesting. It talks about how magic was first done for children in churches in America. How it evolved from things called "Punch and Judy" and "Panto" in the UK.

Anyway, it's a good read so you might want to check it out. It's only a few pages long but very interesting.

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Joshua Lozoff
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Thanks Ron, that's just the info I was looking for. I had figured it was pretty recent, compared with the history of magic in general.
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revlovejoy
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Pennsylvania
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I have no knowledge on the topic, but this is the internet so I'll post anyway. Smile

Can't answer the question about performing for children in general, but one major area is of course the birthday party. The birthday party is a pretty modern invention, at least for most social classes.

You also have to look at the history of childhood itself, and how cultures have defined it. In early Western Christian art, children are always painted like miniature adults. I'm no expert on the sociology, it's just something to consider when researching the performance aspect of magic. Adolescence is a modern convenience afforded to people in wealthy cultures.
Paul
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There is also some information in Performing Magic For Children by Uwe Schenk and Michael Sondermeyer (1995) English edition (2000)in the section "A Few Dates". As a specialist entertainment it seems to be the early part of the twentieth century.

Before that, just like the adults they had to enjoy the classics rather than pack flat cardboard props and adults acting juvenile. :0

Paul.
Clay Shevlin
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Can anyone provide more publication details on Silly Billy's "Seriously Silly"? Many thanks in advance! Clay
Paul
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Quote:
On 2005-05-05 08:59, Clay Shevlin wrote:
Can anyone provide more publication details on Silly Billy's "Seriously Silly"? Many thanks in advance! Clay


Published by Richard Kaufman earlier this year I believe, and available from most larger magic dealers.
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