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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The words we use » » Performing in another language (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Luke Wolf
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Hey there, first post, be nice!

I was wondering what was your experience regarding the performance of your act in another language than your own? How did you tame that beast? Was it difficult? Scary? Easy?

A friend of mine has ot a few close up pieces where he performs in Japanese (a language he doesn't speak by the way). Have you ever considered translating your act or pieces of your act in a language you don't speak?
Russo
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So.California / Centl.Florida / retired Florida
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Did several Birthday Parties for Japanese children in Fort Lee, New Jersey. I knew one phrase -this will be by sound (?) "ko - nee - che - wa " = "Good afternoon" < I'd remember by picturing an 'Ice Cream cone,a knee, a piece of cheese, a baby crying.' The kid giggled and the Parents appreciated the attempt. Also, often I was paid in gift wrapping, NEVER tear gift paper, as it's part of the gift. rr
Magikomik
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Europe
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When one really does not know the language but magic is pretty visual, then speaking in any language may be just fine. Even if audience does not understand the language, there are gestures and situations, relations, that make it understandable. Thousands of street performers do it this way with people they don't know and in countries where people may not know English.

If it is mentalism or act that really requires full language understanding, well, take the translator. As the translator does translation this may add to tension building. Use it to increase the effect.

I have been performing for deaf people on numerous location and in multiple countries, and I had great success. When it was necessary I have used a translator for sign language. Otherwise I have been speaking as usual though just fraction of them could hear the language. In general I had no problems in understanding.

Visual magic I often perform for children which language I cannot understand nor speak in East Africa. And maybe because of the language and cultural differences effects appear even bigger.

If you are about to perform often in foreign language, then start learning phrases which you can repeat over and over again. There is nothing wrong in keeping notes about what you have to say in the new language. You can use it as a running gag if necessary. I can imagine a roll of paper under the vest, or tie, or from the pocket that performer may pull out and remind himself on what is to be said.

Great Paul Potassy was known to speak many languages, as he did put effort to learn the phrases during his performances, and it adds to the greatness of a magician.
Satire
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I performed Doublecross with a language barrier. Big group, surrounded, probably 50 people watching in a circle. I picked the saltiest, grumpiest looking guy there as the mark. I had to pantomime every step of the way, but it's so visual people were on board. When the reveal happened the crowd just exploded.

The guy came up to me afterwards and kept trying to get me to explain how I'd done it, he was floored. Brought someone else over to ask me in broken English how it was possible. Was a great time.
Magikomik
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Europe
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Quote:
On Sep 28, 2021, Satire wrote:
When the reveal happened the crowd just exploded.


Great.

There is audience participation and it is happening right in their own hands. That is what increases the effect. When 50 people are excited it looks even more impossible.

I have been performing for Bachiga tribe of pygmies at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. They live pretty much in nature and don't come often to towns. I would often simply start collecting either some special leaves or some plastic bag pieces from ground and then transforming it into money. It looks like I get it when I need it. It does not matter if I speak their language. It remains later as legend for decades.
korttihai_82
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Its not really that big deal if you are proficient with other language. I am finnish and english is only my 3rd language and I can perform with it easily. However when doing my stand up act I have noticed that certain jokes and bits don't transfer as they are and also doing the act in foreign language can sometimes mess a little with my own rythmn and timing. But even in those cases the audience usually understands that I am not working on my own language. Way to get around this would simply to practise and perform my act more in other languages.

Close up I have done multiple times even to people that we don't share any language and it is no problem. Stage on the other hand is totally different beast... My own personal experience is just to say "no thanks" these days to gigs like that. interpreter is not an option! Tried that and it is a mess!

Juha-Matti
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