The 2019 KIDabra lecture video and script. This was my 29th presentation for the KIDabra conferences.

Promo Video

I write a script for all my lectures. This is it.

Welcome to ET. What can be more fun than getting to dress like a pirate?
I wanted to open with something that obviously fits a theme. And I really enjoy the opening of my Recycling Pirates show.

Appearing Flag Pole
Before we move forward, I’ll mention that the appearing flag pole from keg was a DIY project. It is an example of theming your show but it’s not really part of the lecture. If you’re interested in learning how to make appearing poles and how I made the keg, it’s all in my Smile Maker Studio for members. Some of my DVDs also show how to make appearing poles. A pole control is used inside the cooler to hold the flag staff.

Steve Spangler says, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”

That’s extreme. My motto is, “Never leave well enough alone.” Are we thinking and creating beyond the obvious?

As always, thank you to Mark for allowing me to focus on this subject and develop content that may benefit us all. My favorite part of preparing a workshop is preparing the workshop. I’m forced to examine what I do well and what I can improve. This workshop is what I’ve learned from my time of examination.

Let’s begin with a definition.
What is a theme show?
A show that fits within a predetermined theme such as pirate, super hero, or fairy tale.

What is an Extreme Theme show?
An extremely good theme show.

What makes the show extremely good?
Theming all the show elements.

So, what do we do first?
We brainstorm EVERYTHING we can think of that fits with our theme. Write it down. Shop and collect more ideas. Research books and toys that fit the theme. If it’s an educational show, research the subject to determine the most teachable content.

I tend to go overboard and buy everything I can find to come close to the subject. Everything usually ends up on the floor in my office, so I trip over it until it forms an idea.

This is the beginning process of forming the Elastic Thread of Conflict.
This thread is the CONFLICT STORYLINE OF MYtheme show that builds tension throughout. In simple terms, I need a foe. Conflict creates energy.

I know what’s coming in the rest of our time together, so I’ll tell you now. There are three hidden messages in this lecture that should be worth all your time here. This is the first one. I need a foe because conflict creates energy.

My 2019 library show thread was,I do not like Evil Space Aliens!

Yet they kept popping upin the show causing me great discomfort, therefore joy for the audience. That was the thread that held everything together. When will another evil space alien appear? One might say, where is the foe?

As you can see, I do not like evil space aliens. That’s why all my helpers took home an alien. It’s just a change bag and some toys from Oriental Trading and Rhode Island Nov. I bought 2 cases of aliens and they were worth every penny.

Alien Giveaway Toss into audience
And now, YOU GET AN ALIEN. And you get an alien.

Back to the elastic thread. It’s elastic because I may choose to stretch the conflict storyline to include additional foes. There may be a second foe in my 2020 show. It might be rubber chickens.  

2020 –What will it be in 2020? Dragons, Unicorns, or Rubber Chickens? Who knows?

Elephant Show Pic
I now have this conflict storyline in my educational school shows as well. At least the most recent shows I’ve written. This conflict is new to me.My show formula has changed within the last 3 years thanks to the help of Steve Petra.

Theme-able Elements
I have discovered some theme-able elements of our shows. We begin with

  1. MARKETING – Title, Images, Logo & Ad Copy
    Don’t worry, this isn’t a marketing class.

Our marketing objective is to create our show in the mind of the booker.
The client will use what we’ve given them to do the exact same thing in the mind of their patron . . . our audience.
We are using the title, images, logo and ad copy to paint pictures in other people’s minds, which they will remember and use.
It not only sells but creates positive anticipation in the audience.
When I tell Petra what I’m thinking, he rewrites it so it sounds smarter.

I’m sorry, that frame is out of place. I’ll tell you about that later.

Title & Images
I’m not so sure if librarians even read the ad copy. I believe the title and images are more important UNLESS you have spelling errors in the copy. I believe people SEE spelling errors.

Notice how my 2020 logo uses the key word “imagination” and shows the stars of the show. And the fire breathing chicken who wants to be a dragon. What more could a library want?

Enough about them. What do I want?I want them to book me this year and then book me year after year. If the marketing gets me booked, it’s everything I do after that that gets me booked over and over. This is where the extreme theming really pays off.

This is HIDDEN MESSAGE 2. Extreme Theming Gets Me Rebooked.

  1. STAGE SET– Backdrop, Tables & Costume
    No judgement about the size or quality of your backdrop and stage set. We are all at different levels and budgets. Our desire should be, to be aware of and inspired by our competition. Then strive to be better.

This is one of Tim Sonefelt’s stage sets. Imagine being a child and walking into the room to see this.
This is Mont Dunston. I love his costume for summer reading. This is extreme. Extremely fun.

I’m sorry, that frame is out of place. I’ll tell you about that later.

  1. CONTENT – Books, Giveaways, Music & Runs

I believe showing books in library and school shows is important. You can determine how much you want to say about them. Some performers go into detail with a summary of the book. I think that’s wonderful. I don’t do it but if it works for you that’s great. I hold up a book and do this.

Aliens Underpants Book
Oh no, I don’t know how this got here. I wanted to show you something else. It’s Aliens Love Underpants. I do not like Evil Space Aliens. But I have to admit this is a fun book. Have you guys seen this book? You should check it out.

That’s what I do. In my surveys after the show, librarians praise me for using books in my show.
This tells me two things. 1. Going into more detail of the books may not be necessary.

  1. My competition may not be showing books at all.

You determine what you want. I show on average four books. I probably buy a couple dozen or more during the writing and research process to determine what I want. Probably should borrow them from the library, shouldn’t I? We have our own children’s library in the Alice in Wonderland bedroom. Yes, my wife has THEMED the bedrooms. This is the extremely themed santa room.

HIDDEN MESSAGE 3 – Fun over facts. Be funny!
This brings us to the third hidden message. Fun over Facts. Be Funny! You’ll need to determine what it takes for you to be funny. There are lots of staff here that have a variety of perspectives on that. Personally, I have a Funny Business Tool Bag.

Experience has taught me, if I fill in these areas, I have a better show. Don’t worry, I’m not going to cover this. This is from my last KAX lecture. If you’re interested . . . it’s in the Studio.

I’m sorry, that frame is out of place. I’ll tell you about that later.  

Giveaways and Music
Not going to talk about music. Lots of people more qualified to talk about that. It’s probably the weakest part of my shows. But I’m working on it. I don’t have 70 tracks in my shows. If you do, more power to you. I have to count on my looks to get me through.

As for giveaways, this is the first time in a long time that I had a physical giveaway for my helpers. I’ve been doing bookmarks like EVERYONE else. But I felt it might be more extreme to spend my money on a couple cases of evil space aliens. It was a good choice.

Running Response
My favorite part of the 2019 summer show was, what Sherry calls, the running response. The first effect in the show was the Black Holes of Doom. (music) There are just little trash cans, but I love to say, Black Holes of Doom (music). Each time I say that we hear the music. Watch. Black Holes of Doom. (no music) Great, my doom is broken. I’ll need your help. Each time I say Black Holes of Doom, you say dunt, dunt, duh!

Running Interruptions– Evil Space Aliens, September’s bananas
We also have running interruptions. In my show it was the Thread of Conflict. Those evil space aliens. Some people may have used moon pies. September Cardiff used bananas.

Studio Run
By the way, the studio slides are running interruptions. And the members saying, “I’m a member.” Is a running response.

  1. PROPS – Customization
    Let’s finish our time together with some props and thoughts about customization. Playing dress up with our toys.

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