Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
May 24, 2010
Issue #373

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

Because of my personal and professional schedules it looks like I will be sending this newsletter out two or three times a month this summer.  I wanted to warn you so you won't be surprised to see it in your inbox less often.  Thank you to everyone who has been letting me know that this newsletter has been useful to them.  I appreciate your encouragement.  I will be continuing with it, but I need to adjust my schedule a little to keep my life in balance.
I am hoping to get the next issue of my Creativity For Entertainers newsletter sent in the next week or two.  That is the companion newsletter to my Creativity For Entertainers books.  If you would like to subscribe to that newsletter and have not already done so, you can do it easily using the update profile button at the bootom of this issue.
Have a great week,
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Theatrical Term - Maquette
Article by Bruce Johnson
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

May 24, 2010

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


"Wienie - Walt's (Disney) playful term for a visual element that could be used to draw people into and around a space.  A wienie is big enough to be seen from a distance and interesting enough to make you want to take a closer look."  -- The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland by The Imagineers.


Observe a dog show and you will see the handlers using small pieces of food, like a hot dog slice, to attract and direct the dog's attention.  I believe that might be the inspiration for Walt Disney's term.


A wienie is important if you do any type of strolling entertainment.  You want to attract the attention of the passing public and interest them in coming closer to see what you are doing.


Costuming is an important wienie for clowns.  It should attract attention from a distance but be interesting enough without being overwhelming to draw people closer.  An example is my tattered clown pants.  The tatters are grouped by color so from a distance they form distinct splotches.  However, there is enough variety in shade and texture of individual pieces that people want to see my pants closer.  Much of my costume is designed to be seen from a distance but with interesting details when seen close up.  For example, I wear a plastic name badge that says "Charlie" right side up and "The Juggler" upside down.  It has a single pin back so it can be rotated.  People don't notice what the badge says until they get close to me.  People frequently comment on it during one-on-one interactions, and kids sometimes spend several minutes trying to direct me on how to turn my badge so it is correct.


I spent several years as a street performer at Ports o' Call, a themed shopping center tourist attraction in the Los Angeles harbor.  I found that having a wienie was very important in that setting.  One that I used was a large pirate treasure chest that held all of my props.  The chest itself looked interesting.  I covered the inside of the lid with interesting things like a picture of a Holy Mackerel, a painting of a fish with holes through it, and a sign with a red X that said, "You are here.  You can't get there."


I found that two routines worked well as wienies when I was street performing.   One was to juggle hand bells.  It looked interesting and the noise helped attract attention.  The other wienie routine was plate spinning because the sticks raised the props above the heads of the crowd attracting attention and people would come closer to see what was happening.  The worst thing to do was to stand there doing nothing.


When I work as a strolling magician, I find that the best wienie is somebody watching me while I am doing something.  Then other people will stop to see what has attracted the first person.  Stopping that first person is the biggest challenge.  I have found that often a non-magical activity works best, for example twisting a napkin rose for a woman.  Because I have practiced it enough to do it very rapidly it is visually intriguing.  Also, if I give a paper rose to one woman in a group, the others will stop and wait for me to make one for them as well.  There is a page on my web site, excerpted from Creativity For Entertainers Volume Three, with directions for making a paper rose, an origami flower pot for the rose, and a napkin turtle.


Napkin Rose 


Trick cartoons also work effectively for me as a wienie.  Again it is something that I can do very quickly that arouses curiosity.  When one person stops to see what I am doing, others quickly join them.  Soon I have a nice audience and I can segue into performing sleight of hand magic.  I have a lecture note booklet on performing trick cartoons.  You will find information on that on the publications page of my web site.


A wienie can be an important concept in stage performances as well.  For example, I have a circus tent backdrop and a small circus wagon that I use sometimes.  When the audience sees them their attention is drawn to the stage and they know something fun is going to happen in that space.


What wienie can you use?  What elements of your performance can be seen from a distance?  What details are intriguing enough to make people want to come closer?  In a strolling or street atmosphere, how can you attract the attention of the first person and make them want to stop?

Theatrical Term - Maquette

A maquette is a clay sculpture used in designing a prop, set piece, mask, or other costume element.
 It is frequently made out of plastecene, an oil based clay that holds its shape well but doesn't dry out.  Since it doesn't dry it is easy to make changes requested by a director.
Often a small maquette is made to design a larger piece because the small piece can be constructed much faster.  Then if the design is turned down, or if you decide that you don't like it yourself, you haven't invested a lot of time and effort in doing the sculpture.  This is a concept known as limiting the cost of failure.  (You can read more about this in Creativity For Entertainers Volumne One.)  For example, in college I was given a four-inch tall maquette of a dragon mask by a show designer, and then spent two weeks constructing a three-foot tall actual mask that was used on stage by a performer.
For small objects, a full-size maquette is often made.  Then if it is approved molds can be made from the maquette and used to cast the final product.  For example, for one production in college I was assigned to design several pieces of jewlery.  Once they were approved by the director, I made latex molds of the clay originals and then used the molds to make casting stone copies that were gold leafed.
Maquettes are used in a variety of projects.  Amazing full size human figures and animals are displayed at the Legoland amusement parks and some Lego stores.  They are planned by creating a maquette.  Then measurements are taken from the maquette to determine how many bricks in what arrangement are needed for each layer of the completed figure.  There is not other practical way to plan and obtain the tremendous detail they are able to acheive.
Article by Bruce Johnson
An article I wrote titled Don't Forget the Clown in Clown Ministry was printed in the May/June 2010 issue of The Voice of the FCM published by the Fellowship of Christian Magicians International. Although the organization's name includes the word magician, it actually encompasses many variety arts specialties used to teach Gospel lessons.
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I hope to see you down the road.

Bruce Johnson
Charlie's Creative Comedy
Copyright 2010 by Bruce "Charlie" Johnson.
All rights reserved. 

Educational Opportunities
July 9-15, 2010
Clown Camp Singapore
Sixteen hours of classes over three days plus four days of performing in Singapore schools. 
September 8-12, 2010
South East Clown Association Convention
Jacksonville, Florida
 Introduction to Juggling, Creativity Techniques, Trick Cartoons, Banquet Show, and Dealer Table
I believe in promoting any event I will be lecturing at.  If you schedule me for an educational event that you are hosting, I will list it here.  My goal is to do what I can to best meet the needs of you and your group.
For information on additional services that I can provide for an educational event 

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