Original Magic Box Presentation
Fire Up DVD Explanation
The Story of the Sultan and the Magic Box (Original version)
This is my all time favorite story to perform. It uses magic, music, and audience helpers. I give them their lines to say to the audience. It uses many of the tools I believe helps to communicate effectively.
The Magic Box is a version of the light and heavy glass designed as a box. The design of the holes all around the box cleverly hides the gimmick hole in the back. To operate simply place the box on the clear tray included. Be careful to hold the box level. The surfaces are slick and if the box slides off the tray it could break from the fall. Cover the box with the enclosed cloth so that the top handle is exposed through the hole in the cloth. When the box is covered magician may hold the box in the right hand with the fingers under the tray and the thumb on top. The thumb is inserted into the center hole in the back of the box. The power of the thumb will be greater than the audience member’s pinky finger. It will be almost impossible for the helper to lift the box off the tray. This will give the effect of the box being impossible to lift. Let me extend a very special “thank you” to David Mitchellfor suggesting this method for my story.
It’s time for the story of the Selfish Sultan and the Magic Box. We need some actors. (A short music segment announces the sultan character.) We need someone evil, mean, and nasty. (Select an adult.) (Another musical segment is used as I go into the audience to find other volunteers. I look for a small child, in kindergarten or first grade for the Penniless Peasant. Two older children are selected for the Pretty Professor and the Studly Sportsman.)
Let’s meet our actors. (One by one, beginning with the Sultan, ask the helper’s name and explain the line you want each to deliver.) Mr. Jones you will be the Selfish Sultan. Each time I tap your shoulder please look at the audience and say “I have it all.” Say it with power and strength because you’re the Sultan of a big country. (Give each helper a practice run on their line and offer a round of applause for each. We want our helpers to feel like the stars of the show.)
Susie, you will be the Penniless Peasant. You have a big heart. When I tap you on the shoulder, please look toward the audience and say “I have a big heart.” Say it loud so everyone can hear you.
Jane, you will be the Pretty Professor. You’re very smart. When I tap you on the shoulder, look toward the audience and say, “I know it all.” You can be very arrogant when you say the line if you wish. (Take note that I am instructing the helpers in ways to say the lines. If they follow my lead and say the line in a funny way it adds to the overall experience of the show. A boy may be used in the role of the professor by calling him the Perfect Professor.)
John, you will be the Studly Sportsman. You’re very strong. When I tap your shoulder, look toward the audience and say, “I can do it all.” (I say this line in my best Austrian accent to imitate Arnold, the governor of California.) You can sound like a governor if you wish. (This always gets a chuckle from the parents in the audience aware of current events.)
It’s time for the story. Once upon a time there lived a selfish Sultan. He truly had it all. (Touch helper’s shoulder.) He had all the money and all the wealth. (Touch helper’s shoulder.) Not only that, he was the strongest physically as well as the most handsome. (Touch helper’s shoulder.) But he heard a rumor that someone in the kingdom was strong of moral character.
He couldn’t handle the idea that someone was stronger than himself. So he called in his magicians and wise men and asked them to create a magic box. He wanted a box that only someone strong of moral character could lift with their little pinky. (I change my voice to a childish tone when I say the word “pinky.” Children love to hear an adult change the voice. It makes for a silly moment that is repeated every time I say “pinky” in the story.)
They created the magic box and filled it with precious stones and jewels. The first one to lift the box with their little pinky would win the treasure. They brought the box to show the Sultan. When he saw the box he said, “Oh, that’s too bright. It would hurt my eyes. Cover the box to protect my eyes.” (These lines are delivered with the intention of making the Sultan look like a sissy. Following these lines pause and look at the adult helper and say the next line almost with disgust. If played correctly it should get a good laugh.) The Sultan was a weenie.
So, they covered the box to protect his eyes. (The magic box is a clear acrylic box with a small handle on top. The box is filled with colored gemstones. The box sits on a clear tray. A cloth with a hole in the center covers the box so the handle is exposed for the helpers to use their pinky finger to attempt to lift from the tray. A magic principle is used to prevent the box from being lifted from the tray unless the performer chooses.) One by one the people of the village heard about the contest and they began to try to lift the box.
First there was the Studly Sportsman. Surely, he can do it because he is so strong. Tell them. (Touch helper’s shoulder. Allow helper to try to lift the box.) But he couldn’t do it.
Maybe the Pretty Professor can do it because she’s so smart. Tell them. (Touch helper’s shoulder. Allow helper to try to lift the box.) She couldn’t do it either.
The Sultan saw this and he said, “I’ll do it because”. . . (Touch helper’s shoulder. Allow helper to try to lift the box.) But he couldn’t do it either.
There was only one person left. It was the Penniless Peasant with the big heart. Tell them. (Touch helper’s shoulder. Allow helper to lift the box.) She did it! Therefore, she won the treasure. (This next bit of business will require timing and a bit of luck. Open the box lid and hold it in front of the child. Your body language signal is for the child to reach into the box and remove some of the stones. When she reaches for the box, snap the lid shut. Some children will not reach, which spoils the moment, but most will.) But wait, she didn’t keep the treasure. She wasn’t selfish. She shared the treasure with everyone in the kingdom, so everyone became richer because of the contest.
When the Sultan saw who won he wanted to put her in prison so once again he would have it all. But when she was willing to share, she became a champion of the people. If he put her in prison now, he wouldn’t just be a weenie, he would be a meanie. The Sultan learned a valuable lesson that day. He learned the power of giving is much more important than the power of trying to take for yourself.
It was suggested that I change this line to be “He learned the power of giving is much more important than the power selfishly taking.” Although the editor’s suggestion may make for better grammar it does not make for better story presentation in my opinion. I prefer to emphasis the word “yourself” as the closing thought.
Better Builder DVD
The Magic Box (Light & Heavy Box) is one of my favorite effects. I use it in almost every show. The props fits well with a building theme as shown in the ideas on the video chapter above.
Magic Box Rewrite
Animals and insects are some of the best builders in the world. They build their own homes. They play the roles of designers, contractors, and builders. Today some of you will play the roles of animal architects.
Our builders today are:
Ralph the Roach– He’s a sanitation engineer. In other words, he’s a trash collector. He’s just nasty! Ralph, when I tap you on the shoulder I want you to say, “I’m nasty” and then give us an evil laugh.
Billy the Beaver– Billy is a hard worker. He’s a dam builder. He will do anything to stop up a stream of water to make his own swimming hole. He will even cut down a tree with his teeth. He has a dentist on retainer. When the water washes away some of his dam, he builds it right back. He’s always working. Billy, when I tap you on the shoulder please say, “Work, work, work.”
Marvin the Mole– Moles don’t have many friends. Boys and girls please don’t be like a mole. They prefer to live alone. They are excavators. They are like bulldozers with thumbs. Actually they have four thumbs. Every time I drop something at home my wife says, “You’re all thumbs.” Since Marvin likes to live alone, when I tap you on the shoulder please say, “Leave me alone.”
Abigail the Ant– Abigail is very small but she’s really good at working with other ants. When it comes to building a home, she’s a team player. Abigail, when I tap you on the shoulder please say, “I’m a team player”
All these builders are strong in their own way but one is stronger than the others. I’ve designed a test to see who is the strongest. We’ll see who can lift an elephant! Inside this box is an elephant. You didn’t really expect me to bring an elephant did you? He’s a plush pachyderm. He’s the perfect size for our test. Don’t worry about him being in the box. There are air holes all the way around. Actually a blue whale is heavier but I couldn’t keep a whale in this box. The water kept running out of the air holes.
To prove the strength of our animals and insects, they can only use their little pinky to lift the elephant. You must lift the box off the tray with JUST your little pinky.
Boys and girls you may not know this but roaches, moles, beavers and ants live in fear of being crushed by an elephant. I’ll cover the box out of respect for their fears. Actually, I have no idea if animals live in fear of elephants. I just thought that was funny.
For the animal or insect that lifts the elephant, you’ll win a bag of animal crackers. Every animal loves animal crackers, even the human ones.
Our first attempt will be made by Ralph the Roach. (“I’m nasty.”) Please place your nasty little pinky in the hole and lift the elephant. He couldn’t do it. Ralph may be “I’m nasty,” but the strongest thing about him was his stinky arm pits. That’s nasty.
Our next attempt, is Billy the Beaver. Since Billy works all the time he must have strong muscles. (“Work, work, work.”) Billy, please lift the elephant. He couldn’t do it. I guess his teeth are stronger than his pinky.
Next we have Marvin the Mole. Moles are NOT team players. (“Leave me alone.”) And they don’t like to be mistaken for a Ground Hog. (“Leave me alone.”) Marvin, you need to relax about that ground hog comparison. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill. (“Leave me alone.”)
Marvin, please lift the elephant. He couldn’t do it. He didn’t seem to care. He just said, (“Leave me alone.”)
Our elephant lift contest isn’t going well. All these strong animals and a roach couldn’t do it. It’s hard to believe a little ant can. Since Abigail is a team player, (“I’m a team player.”) it may be more than she can lift alone. Abigail please lift that elephant.
Abigail the Ant did it! Abigail, as a reward for your great strength you get to take home an elephant and a bunch of other animals inside this bag of animal crackers.
Boys and girls, ants really are strong. An ant can lift 50 times its body weight. If I could do that it would mean I could lift FIVE CARS! All at the same time! Ants are not just team players and great builders. They’ve got muscle to back it up.
The Magic Treasure Box
Michael Reist shared this adaptation of the Magic Box for the Better Builder theme. I am so impressed that I’m torn between performing the one I wrote and the one Mike wrote. I’m leaning toward Mike’s version.
Building a Better World for Today and Tomorrow
Cast of Characters: Each may wear a sign printed with their occupation. To aid in their memory of their line, write it on the back of the name sign. Construction hats and additional props add to the fun.
Painter – Holds a paintbrush
Architect – Holds design plans or a drafting tool
Carpenter – Holds a toy hammer or saw
Brick Mason – Holds a sponge brick
Teacher – Holds a book
The Magic Box prop is filled with small building blocks. Lincoln Logs is another good option.
Boys and girls we are going to put on a play with five volunteer actors. The story is set in a place far, far away, and a long time ago in the mystical land of Magicopolis. In this land, there lives a wise king who rules over his subjects with love. However, he is getting older and he wants to make sure before he dies, he has someone in place to advise his son, the Prince. He wants the Prince, who will become the new king, to know how to keep building a better world not just for today, but tomorrow as well.
The king asked his chief wizard to design a test so he would know who would become the worthy advisor to his son. The wizard came back to him with a magical box. Inside the box were building blocks. The king asked the wizard, “What is this?” This wizard told him, “It is a magical box filled with building blocks. They may be used to build most anything.” The wizard explained, “You set the box on a piece of glass and cover it with a cloth made of magical spells. Whoever can lift the box with only one finger will be the one person worthy to advise your son, the Prince.”
Boys and girls I need five volunteers. (Choose helpers and hand out props and signs.) You are now actors in our play and each of you will have a line you will need to say. First we meet our Painter. When I tap you on the shoulder please say, “I’m a painter and I make everything look beautiful.”
Next we meet the architect. When I tap you on the shoulder please say, “I’m an architect and I plan how to build things.”
Now we meet the carpenter. When I tap you on the shoulder please say, “I’m a carpenter and I build things out of wood.”
You are the brick mason. When I tap you on the shoulder please say, “I’m a brick mason and I build things out of brick.”
You are the teacher. When I tap you on the shoulder please say “I’m a teacher.”
The king called for a national search for volunteers who believed they could be the new adviser to the Prince. Eventually five people were found who believed they could help the Prince be the best king possible. Each believed they could help advise him how to build a better world for today and tomorrow.
The first volunteer came forward. The King asked, “Who are you and why do you think you should advise my son, the Prince?” (Tap the painter.) The first volunteer replied, “I’m a painter and I make everything look beautiful.” The king replied, “That would be a really good thing, making things look beautiful. Go Ahead and lift the box.” The painter tried and tried (have volunteer try to lift the box) but he/she could not lift the magical box. The king thanked the painter for trying (This volunteer may either step back or return to his/her seat).
The architect now stepped forward (tap him/her) and said, “I’m an architect and I plan how to build things.” The King replied, “Wow, that is a really important job. It is really important to plan. Go ahead and try”. (Volunteer tries) The architect tried and tried and could not lift the box. The King thanked him/her for trying. (Volunteer returns to seat)
Next the carpenter stepped forward (tap on shoulder) and said, “I’m a carpenter and I build things out of wood.” The King replied, “That is a very important job. A lot of things are made out of wood. Go ahead and lift the box.” (Volunteer tries) The carpenter tried and tried and could not lift the box. The King thanked him/her (Volunteer returns to seat)
The King asked, “Can no one lift the box and help my son?” The brick mason stepped forward (tap on shoulder) and said, “I’m a brick mason and I build things out of brick.” The King replied, “Oh good. That is so important to have brick buildings and houses so storms do not blow them down. Go Ahead and lift the box.” (Volunteer tries) The brick mason tried and tried but he/she could not lift it either. The King, once more, thanked the brick mason. (Volunteer returns to seat)
The King was very sad because no one had been able to lift the box. The King saw there was one more person and told them to come forward. The King asked what do you do? (tap on shoulder) “I’m a teacher.” The King replied, that is wonderful, “Do you teach how to build houses, or bridges, or roads or anything like that?” The teacher replied, “No, I don’t.”
The King said, “I don’t know what to do. You don’t build houses or teach how to build them. You don’t build roads or teach how to build them. You don’t build bridges or teach how to build them. I don’t know how you can help my son. But go ahead and try. (Volunteer tries) To the King’s amazement he saw the box lifted off the glass. (Volunteer returns to seat)
Please give all our helpers a big round of applause.
The King asked the teacher, “How did you do that? The teacher explained, “I don’t teach how to build houses, but I teach how to read which can help you do almost anything. I don’t teach how to build bridges out of steel but I teach how to build other bridges, the bridges of friendship and sharing. I don’t build roads, but I teach how to build roads of caring, compassion and love. My King, if your son learns these things, you can rest assured he will help build a better world for today and tomorrow.”
Remove the building blocks from the magic box and drop into a change bag/device. Change them into something better than a building. Change them into a heart.
Thanks again to Michael. A wonderful story presentation.
This video comes from the Hero Magic DVD. It’s another great use of the Magic Box.
Live performance in Indy, IN. Don Miller hired me to shoot this footage for the children’s hospital.
Magic Box performance 2010
Mark Tripp’s Magic Box
This very special video was shot at Mark’s home. We did a video shoot for his At the Kitchen Table DVD. Mark was willing to film his handling and ideas for the Magic Box. Simply brilliant.