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Kidology 2008, Tuesday 9th September 2008, Wolverhampton

Reviewed by Robert Bone.

As this was my first trip up to Wolverhampton for Kidology I’m afraid that I can’t compare it to others, but only offer my view of the day as whole. Kidology is a one day convention aimed primarily at the children’s entertainer. Unlike most other conventions, Kidology is held on a Tuesday, not a Saturday or Sunday, as these are the children’s entertainer’s busiest days.

The £35 ticket price covers 4 lectures, a host of dealer’s specialising in props for children’s shows and a buffer lunch. The day included a number of lectures:

Pat Fallon
Pat Fallon is an Irish magician and lectured on magic for the older children. From a personal point of view I think that some of his routines may not be exactly what a mother would expect at her son’s birthday party (for example Houdini Séance!) but did include a great silk routine. I felt that the lecture had not been thoroughly thought through and agenda of the lecture thrown together at the last minute. That isn’t to say the effects and routines weren’t polished, it just didn’t have a flow.

Russ Brown
Russ worked at the children’s entertainer at Blackpool tower and has a wealth of experience, and everyone was bowled over by his energy, enthusiasm and lack of requiring to stop for breath when talking! It was obvious that Russ works a lot to older children and family audiences (and not so many 4 year olds in Auntie Doris’s living room), and effects included his take on cards across, as well as plate spinning and a spelling game/competition. These weren’t pieces that a children’s entertainer would use in every show, but useful for if certain situations, and this was obvious by the scrum around his table afterwards.

Tony Griffith
Having seen Tony lecture before I was looking forward this lecture, but was left disappointed. The presentation was about science and school shows, with some very insightful information on how to get the business. Unfortunately, unless you do school shows, or want to break into this area there was very little for the ‘weekender’. It was also let down by poor sound, background noise and I felt that Tony’s heart was not in the presentation and was more going through the motions. However, for anyone wanting to work in schools there was a goldmine of information.

John Kimmons
After three lectures that didn’t hit the heights, last up was John Kimmons’ lecture based around ventriloquism. Instead of the standard lecture (do something, then show how it was done) the lecture pretty much involved him doing his show, but pausing and discussing through-out. For example, he opened with his short and sharp sponge-ball routine, then colour changing silks, not bothering to explain how they worked, but why he used the effects. He went through his vent routines (with drawing board, gorilla and boy puppets), and the entertainment and comedy value rescued the day.

One major gripe (and apparently this occurs every year) was the poor quality of the food (sausage rolls, pork pies and couple of Doritos). Instead of setting up the buffet whilst the preceding lecture was on, the trays were carried through and put on a central table for everybody to dive in. I found out after that many people boycotted this and went directly to the Subway across the road, and I wish I had done the same.

To summarise, I would still say that it is an event that anyone who performs for children (or would like to) should attend. By being able to speak to the dealers and see the props (and not just a small photo and description on a website) was great and many people bought new effects for their shows, and as most attendees already have established shows, it is more an opportunity to met with others and maybe pick up some ideas and props and to add to what you already have, and therefore should still be attended by those working in the industry.

Robert Bone is a professional Childrens Entertainer and Close-up Magician. His website is: http://www.robertbone.co.uk/