Building a Show Pt 5

Theming your Performance – part 5

Jimmy Leo“To entertain for the purpose of temporarily taking someone from their cares and worries in the world is noble…but to recognize an entertainer’s ability to REACH an audience and UTILIZE that gift for an educational purpose…holds FAR greater value” Jimmy Leo

  • History
  • General Science
  • Astronomy
  • Geology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Foreign Languages
  • Ethics
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Math
  • Music
  • Phys Ed..
  • Art
  • Archeology
  • Paleontology
  • Mythology

I sat at this keyboard trying to come up with some ideas on the further direction to take this series. I admit, I was a bit stumped at first. I decided to take a different approach. I wanted to come up with some ideas for themes. I wanted to keep it easy for myself, so I decided to stay with academic subjects. Within 5 minutes I hammered out over fifteen different areas of study….Given another 5 minutes and a college catalog, I’m sure I can bring out at least 30 more. So let’s just take a look at a few of these and see how they would play out if themed properly.

I listed History as just one academic topic, but the truth is, History can be broken down into many subcategories. I’ve personally Done shows on American History featuring some of our nations forefathers and some of the greatest moments in our countries history. I’ve even placed them in different kinds of formats as well as utilized some very interactive techniques. Thanks to Fred Harshberger and his “Ride In” creations, I’ve been able to walk into a school with a presentation on great moments in American History and have students simulate the flight of the Wright Brothers, the sailing of the Mayflower, and Paul Revere’s Ride. It’s not limited there, though. The simulation was a reward. The audience played a trivia game on important facts about our history. The entire audience was divided into two teams and the first team to get 5 questions correct simulated history. A great deal of effort went into the creation of that presentation, but I pride myself on being able to cater to any theme and I welcome the challenge – the last thing i want to do is get stagnant. I still have the trivia questions, which means at any point I can easily pull them out, and reuse them over and over again. The big question, I suppose, is are we limited to a trivia format? The answer is that we are only as limited as we allow ourselves to be.

Another idea I’ve been toying with is a game show format. i actually love the idea of mixing formats and themes. It keeps a person from growing stale while staying within the same theme. I may love doing literacy shows, but if I’m doing the same one day in and day out, I;m going to lose interest. I may still be doing a great performance, but mentally I’ll be wondering if I left my coffeepot on! I can’t have that. I need to make sure my mind is focused on the show in front of me. My solution is to keep the theme but adjust the format. And where does one go to get the best ideas for various formats? No further than your closest TV. A mere scan of the various channels can produce at least 10 different formats that can be mixed with a multitude of themes for a constant stream of new performances that can always be catered to your clientele without ever getting dull or repetitive.

I have a personal love for the topic of archeology and see that as a future performance direction for me. Considering all of the success from the Indiana Jones movies, it would be very easy. The idea of creating a dig sight with assorted artifacts being “dug up” creates a great way to educate children about different cultures or ancient civilizations. Imagine the possibilities of a dig site that can take a child from the world of the ancient Greeks to the ancient Egyptians. Rather than keep it limited to different cultures, what about the possibility of demonstrating the emergence of society. Some may disagree with me, but the idea of finding the bones of previous types of early man, dinosaurs, and early animals.

One of my favorite presentations that I ever gave was a show called “A Day at Balloon School”. I created a performance that touched upon a 6 period day with each period being some form of academics. Rather than it be regular academics, it was all balloon related, from the art class to the phys ed class. It held the same level of comedy as any other performance, but laced in it was math, reading, phys ed (volleyball), art, science, history. In the end, they became more receptive to learning; not so much with regard to a specific academic subject,but towards education as a whole.

One of the very first balloon shows I ever did was called “When I grow up I want to be..” Rather than cover academic topics currently, it tackled the concepts of occupational choices. I was able to get kids in elementary school to see serious occupations i a positive light and think beyond the idea of growing up and being a pro football player. Instead, they were considering occupations like veterinary medicine, , auto mechanic, and many other blue and white collar occupations.

In the year 2001, The Library System’s summer reading theme was “2001; a reading Odyssey” I promised I could come up with a show that focused on space related theme and what I emerged with was a show that focused around the constellations. The beauty of this? The constellation is full of stories. That made my life a whole lot easier. The stories involved focused around Greek mythology; Fascinating stories that already held within them all the elements that MAKE UP a good story; Drama, Comedy, Tragedy, Intrigue, Mystery. I welcomed the opportunity to do a presentation it, and some of those stories I designed back then still get used today.

I wanted to tap into just a few ideas now. I’ll be addressing a few more ideas in Article six tomorrow. Most important of all, remember that in all of these cases, academic materials are being themed into the performance, which made it highly desired by schools and libraries alike.

coming soon……Theming your Performance; The private party solution – Part 6

For more on entertainment concepts, balloon shows, and stage show presentation, “Journey to the Center of the Stage” Featuring the Performance of Jimmy Leo is available. Simply e mail

All inquiries, questions and comments are always welcome. As always, it’s a pleasure to share my knowledge with others – Thank you for the opportunity!

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about Jimmy Leo –

Based in the Tampa suburbs, Jimmy Leo has been twisting and entertaining with balloons for over 16 years. He has worked for such clients as The New York Islanders, Steinway Pianos, Jet Blue Airlines, appeared on local and national television, and performed for hundreds of schools, libraries, camps, charities, restaurants and nightclubs. Along with spending time seeking out new markets and creating new routines, Jimmy has penned a book on performance and marketing and filmed 3 instructional DVDs.. He has put together stage shows, and workshops for schools, camps, libraries, colleges, and corporate businesses. Along with these accomplishments, He has designed and presented multiple lectures and presentations with the purpose of providing educational entertainment with various purposes; some being to promote reading and awareness of the environment, and others designed to promote awareness of reducing stress in the workplace. He is currently emerging as a key note speaker on the art of creative marketing and team building. Still, his two greatest accomplishments are named Miranda and Emily.

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