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olaf911
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Hello everyone!

Next week I will perform about 30min for a number of spectators, of whom about one half will be deaf. Mostly they will be able to read lips, and there will be a translator. So far, so good. But this is my first show for deaf people, so I would be glad to hear some wise words from you, who did this before.

My strategy will be to do mostly visual tricks (T&R newspaper, sponge balls, ropes, ...) and to limit storytelling to the absolutely necessary. My concern is not so much about the selection of tricks, but about the handling of this special audience. I have no experience with handicapped people so far, so here is, what I came up with myself:

1. The spectators will be more watching my face than "normal" audience would do. Is this good or bad for misdirection?
2. Those at least who are able to read lips will be very skilled in watching details. Bad situation for magicians. The technique must be optimized in this case (should be anyway...).
3. I have to look more into the audience and speak slower than usual.
4. The flow of the routines will be slower than usual, where speech is needed. This will make me uncomfortable and therefore is a possible source of trouble.
5. Will they be embarrased when I select one of the deaf ones as a volunteer, or will they be if I don't? This is a very important question to me.
6. There is one mental trick I would love to do. Involved is counting cards and thinking of a number (ACAAN). Would this be ok, or should I dismiss this one? (Don't ask how this fits in. It does, trust me. Smile ).

Did I miss anything important? Any suggestions will be highly appreciated.

Cheers

Olaf
55john55
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I taught high school science in a school which had a deaf education program. I averaged one or two deaf students per year and there was a sign language interpreter in each room. I did a few magic tricks for my students but normally with small groups of 4 to 8 students at a time.It was a very different situation than the one you face but I think a few things are the same. I came to believe I should treat the deaf kids as close to the same as the hearing kids as possible.I'm going to PM you the rest because it is too long for here.
tstark
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I have lost about half my hearing in both ears at the lower frequencies which are the conversational tones (I have hearing aids but they do not work well). I have had difficulty understanding conversations for quite some time now and I may be able to add a little insight for what it is worth.

Yes, you will find that between translators signing and others watching your lips you have the advantage of having many sleights fly past the audience. This is a double edged sword however as they may miss key points leading up to the climax or, worse still, the climax itself.

Understand also that lip reading is not a perfect science and much is understood based on context as opposed to a deaf person understanding word for word. The recommendation here would not be speaking slowly as that could be taken as an insult. Do, however, speak distinctly. Enunciate as much as is humanly possible without slowing your speech pattern at all. Much the same as speaking slowly to someone who only speaks a foreign language, you run the risk of offending and without enunciation they will not understand you anyway.

I don't believe you have to slow the pacing much, if at all.

By all means select one of the deaf participants but make sure that if there are instructions that need to be understood you wait for them to read someone signing or that you make eye contact and enunciate to someone that reads lips. My recommendation is to treat them as foreigners that do not speak the same language and have the signer with them onstage. There will be more management to be sure but it will be well worth the effort. I would assume that at this venue there will be some expectation that you will use one of the deaf audience members. The same holds true here as at any other performance with a predominate number of the disabled. They do not want to be treated as "special" and they understand that adjustments need to be made by you. Do so without appearing self conscious and please remember that in this venue more so than any other, patience is a virtue. No one understands the feeling of helplessness that comes with hearing impairment and how horrible the deaf feel when someone who hears becomes visibly frustrated.

The Any Card At Any Number plot is a good one and should present no problems if you hold to the principles outlined above.

This should be a rewarding challenge and a valuable learning experience. Relax and make any adjustments you deem necessary since you are obviously more familiar with your material than I am.
olaf911
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@55john55:
Thank you very much for your suggestions. Since you met deaf people on a regular basis you had time to adapt to the situation and improve your behaviour. Unfortunatly this is not true for me. I am afraid to be thrown off balance by repetition of speeches, so I decided to choose the lesser evil and not to repeat my storytelling. I feel more comfortable this way.

@tstark:
Your answer had a great impact on my insight in this situation. You helped me *VERY* much, and I heartily thank you for this. I feel more self-confident and at ease now. This is exactly the way I will try to handle the situation. I feel confident to be able to adjust my performance this way.
Maybe in the rush of the performance I will unconsciously return to my old habits from time to time, but I am determined not to. All I can do now is to mentally go through the show and imagine all moments critical to success in the light of these insights. Thanks again!
55john55
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You made a good intelligent decision. I was in a very different situation than you will be. You will do well because you have taken the time to plan and you obviously care very much. This will show in your performance. Best of luck (but you will not need luck - you have skill).
tstark
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You are more than welcome Olaf. It is a credit to you that it was an important enough question to you that you needed to seek out additional information. Your parents raised you well and you are a credit to the magic profession and the human race in general. If you remember and have the time I would love to hear how the show went. Take care, Craig
BCaldwell
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Great topic and comments! I'm sorry to say my first reaction was "I wouldn't take the gig." After reading tstark's post I was slightly ashamed of myself for thinking that. Please let us know how it works out, Olaf.
"...that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." Dennis Miller Smile

~Bob~
olaf911
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Thank you all for your encouragement. I never would have expected to get such valuable and emotional responses. I had to swallow twice before being able to formulate this post. Believe it or not, I *really* feel at ease now after reading your posts, and I am confident to be able to give this special audience a good time. And that is all what counts on my side.

My performance will take place at 26th of September. Of course I will let you know how it went, even in case of failure. Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

Olaf
BCaldwell
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I won't have to cross my fingers for you, Olaf. Just getting on here and asking your question tells me you are dedicated and committed to doing your best and I know it will show in your performance! I will be checking back after the 26th to see how it went. Who do I think I'm kidding? I'll be on here anyway! Smile
"...that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." Dennis Miller Smile

~Bob~
pradell
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I've done fundraisers for the deaf and for the blind and magic on the radio too. Anything is possible. Magic mostly occurs in the minds of the spectators!

:magicrabbit:
olaf911
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Done. This will be some memorable experience, I am sure.

Be warned though, this will be some longer post.

The audience consisted of about 35-40 people. 5 kids (4-10 year old), their parents, estimated about 45 years old in average, and elder people in their 70-80s. About half of them deaf, me not knowing who is and who is not. I had to unload the car and therefore had to walk 3 times to carry the props. The kids were closely inspecting my props in the meantime. I know why I took my suit and suitcase last (being father too, I know my business)...

My location is in front of the audience, just in front of a platform, but I did not want to use it, because there would be no chance to look onto my little table. Would be too high. And I wanted them to have a good look onto the table. I feel this adds to credibility. I like close-up situations best. Magic must be touchable to be real.

There is an angle of visibility of about 160 degree. Tough, but I am prepared. Most stuff I could do close up. Sponge balls must be kept tight, coin in bottle must be done carefully and with misdirection. Ok. The show begins.

The translator introduces me. Then I am on my own. T&R newspaper works like a charm (thank you again and again, Axel Hecklau! NEWSFLASH is well worth the money!). Enchanted cube is well accepted too. Applause. Sponge balls are next. More applause.

Chicago Opener is next. Deaf spectator has no trouble to pick the first card. The translator tries desperately to do his job, but the deaf audience knows anyway, what is expected. Second revelation gets it's applause. Next is Presto-Printo-like trick. Polite applause for the first cards. At the second-to-last card the audience finally recognized that the cards are NOT copied. There must be magic happening! Smile Applause.

The next one is a hard one I dreaded, but I was determined to do it. ACAAN. Needed are 3 spectators. One of them is deaf. Proved to be some problem, since the explanation takes it's time and this throws me a little off balance. Anyway, everything works like a charm too.

Now comes Coin In Bottle. Being aware of my angles this also works out well. Applause. "Why?" I think. It is a little trick to relax the audience. Never expected to get this reaction. Ok, take it and go on.

Now comes my pet trick. It is the last one of my show. This is my rope routine based on the techniques of Fiber Optics Extended by Richard Sanders. I am at ease with this one. Do it in my sleep. But what is that? One spectator runs past me, climbs the stage behind me and starts to shoot pictures of the audience. Over my shoulder! Throws me off balance, I must confess. Next thing I remember is that I do not know anymore how to tie a false knot. BLACKOUT! I simply repeat the last sequence in the hope that my brain will start kicking in. Getting increasing applause. What? Why?

Brain kicks in. It does! Phew! Rescued. I don't know why, but now I completely relax. "All bad things which could happen happened already" I think. So I do the Power Slide of FOE. Works extremely well. The rest is business as usual.

A little gag at the end, and that was it.

For those who follow, here are my impressions:
1. The deaf people are an extremly grateful audience.
2. Do not expect to get applause necessarily where you are used to.
3. Do not expect to get that much applause as you are used to. This does NOT mean the audience is not pleased. They simply react different. E. g. 2 elder women started clapping each time I went past when I took my props to the car again after the show. Each time. With shiny eyes. They were enchanted, I think. But during the performance they did not applaud very much. I have a feeling this is a matter of shyness going along with being deaf. So be prepared of a very special and rewarding experience. I would do it again anytime.
funsway
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Great going, Olaf! I didn't chime in earlier since you were getting wondeful advice -- but I will be following your successes.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
Bob Sanders
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Olaf,

My hat is off to you. Go for it!

Due to poor sound systems etc., we do this more often than you think. LOL

Actually, there is an expert here on The Café who may be a lot of personal help for you.

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/bb_pr......&user=10

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander

PS --- How often do we get stuck with a mic on a stand or, even worse, hand-held mic for a magic act? It is very close to a "no sound" show. All magic needs to be very visual.
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz

AmazedWiz@Yahoo.com
55john55
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Great ! Congratulations. You worked hard and deserve an ovation. I'm delighted everything went well for you. John
Jaxon
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I wish I would have found this discussion sooner for I didn't find it until the show had already taken place. I'm so glad it worked out. I of course know exactly what it's like to be both a deaf magician and a deaf spectator.

You already shared that the show went great and I get the impression that it wasn't as difficult as you worried it would be. So now I'd just like to add a little more advice for the benefit of anyone who finds this discussion and is about to have a similar experience with a deaf crowd.

First of all. Basically do your normal show. Of course as Olaf mentioned there might be a routine or two that might not work or might need some altering. But at the same time I do not suggest anyone to develop an act just for the deaf spectators. Do what you've been doing in most of your shows that you have experience with and are comfortable performing. We deaf do not expect to understand every word spoken in a show or even in a conversation.

That also included music. If you normally use music in a routine. Keep it in there. If you don't it'll throw off your rhythm. The interpreter will tell them music is playing.

Bringing a deaf kid up to assist a magician is such a rare thing that it'll be a real treat to them. If you can do it then do it. It's a good idea to pick things that you can just mime to them what they need to do. They'll pick up on the visual cues with ease.

As Olaf mentioned. Don't look for too much applaud with your hearing. Get it from their faces. If they wave their fingers in the air then they are applauding.

Ron Jaxon
Image


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.
BCaldwell
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Olaf,
Great job! We knew you could do it, and I'm really glad it worked out so well for you. And Ron, thanks for your information as well. This is the kind of information I really come to the Café for! Smile
"...that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." Dennis Miller Smile

~Bob~
Jason A
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Good job Olaf sounds like you had a great show.
My grandfather is deaf. and I was going to give you some advice .
It looks like I read this post to late.
and I'm glad to hear that you had a great show.

I remember that my hardest show ever was to a bunch of blind people.
now that's hard.
I should have said no .
but I have a hard time saying no when a gig comes.
I'm glad I did it cause the show went very well.

once again congrads. on your show.
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