Building a Show Pt 7

Jimmy Leo

Theming – different ideas for different directions (part 7)

“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

  • geography based
  • endangered species
  • Rain forest
  • Third world countries
  • cultural stories
  • historical stories
  • “Greening” Environmental Stories
  • Recycling Stories
  • Political Stories
  • Military stories?

Above are a few topics i have come up with… the top of my head. The intent at this point is to understand that the topics still prove to be educational, excel far beyond being only academic. I want to take a moment and discuss a few, the potential they hold, and in the next article in the series, discuss just who might be receptive to these presentations and how to get their attention.

Geography based is one of my favorite topics. The psychological edge to theming is to cater to the things that the client appreciates, loves, or takes pride in. Go to any area that has a major sports team of ANY kind and you can understand just what I mean by this. I live in Florida, but there are so many transplanted northerners that when the Yankees play baseball, it’s just as big a deal where i live now as it remains up north. Things get crazy when the Pittsburgh Steelers play football. People care emphatically not just about the sport they love, but the team that represents them geographically.

It goes way beyond sports, though. There are so many aspects of Florida that make people proud to be a Floridian, they incorporate them into their daily lives. Tourism is a concept that LIVES and THRIVES based on geographical location. One of my favorite spots to vacation was Lancaster county; and one of their biggest tourism attractions is the Amish Culture. Here is a prime example of a geographical location appealing to a culture and the culture in return, appealing to others within the geographical region…in this case, resulting in big profit.

Can you theme a presentation that appeals to a specific sports team? Of course you can. If you give it consideration, you realize half the work is already done for you. The setting? Nothing more than the place where the game is played. In the case of baseball, does it have to be limited to the baseball diamond or the football field? Absolutely not. Why not include the locker area, the stands, the interviewing area….you’ll find you can bring your performance to life and give it the feel of a real baseball experience! Not just the game, but the ENTIRE experience. Characters? Again, No need to create every character – some of them can be the sports athletes within the game. Any personality traits they may have in real life can be incorporated into the performance.

I understand…you’re not an avid sports fan. I get it. I was merely trying to throw out one small example of how people’s bonding to a certain something, geographically based, can be worked into a storytelling performance. But let’s say we want to travel into some different directions. Somewhere out in the middle of nowhere is a small town. It has little to no claim to fame… one. It is the home of the world’s largest ball of yarn. It doesn’t have to be that though. There are a lot of little towns in the middle of nowhere that have some obscure claim to fame – The people who live in these towns LIVE for these things. What about a presentation about four college students on a road trip during spring break. What about all the things that go on in the balloon car on the road to seeing the Worlds largest ball of yarn. The conversations, the events, the stories, the self discoveries…all laid on during a quest to see something. Crazy? Stephen King didn’t think so when he wrote the story “Stand by me” As a movie, it gained even greater success.

By now, you’re probably wondering how this applies to children. It probably wouldn’t. it would be for late teens and young adults. This now means a whole new market is opened up. The high school market. The college crowd. The ones who see themselves as too old for balloons would no longer entertain that notion; they aren’t GETTING balloons, but more importantly, they are getting a show that goes to leave them thinking about life long after the show is over.

What could such a show possibly offer? It all depends on those conversations held between those characters in the car. The best part of this is that the direction of the theming no longer hinges on the balloons within the show at all – it hinges COMPLETELY on the conversation going on between the characters IN the balloon car. It could easily be adjusted from an anti drug program to an anti drinking discussion. in those cases, it would become easy to pitch to specific organizations such as S.A.D.D. or M.A.D.D. just to name a couple. The Internet would serve as a great resource for finding more. What a bout a presentation that pitches to going to college? How about conversations discussing trade-schools? Specific markets now become open and receptive to this kind of a presentation because it now serves the purpose of not just being unique in it’s use of a giant balloon car as a prop, but in it’s very nature to “Sell their product/service” to the general public.

We’ve already established that such a show wouldn’t appeal to children….or would it? What if we suddenly created the addition of balloon masks with big eyes? What if the dialogue from those in the back seat was the kind of dialogue that CAME form kids. What if the front seat was mom and Dad and the back seat had the children. Here the conversation can occur between the kids in the backseat focusing on the kids of messages we may want the kids to have….while presenting it from a child’s perspective. It brings about a few new props, the major change being within the dialogue , and it offers a brand new direction for the presentation…the idea that the theming of the show can NOW include the method and type of dialogue. So it’s easy to see that it can apply to an audience of children after all. Is it limited ONLY to audiences who are young adult or younger?

Why can’t a performance of this type be worked up and pitched to CORPORATE AMERICA! Suddenly the dialogue is no longer presented from a kid’s view point, and perhaps we may want to consider getting rid of the balloon masks. Instead, we may give serious consideration to the occupants of the car all being ACTUAL audience participants. Of course, there could be one LEAD person putting on the presentation…and his role in the car would be the steering not just of the car…but of the direction of the conversation as well. It COULD be a means of making statements, asking questions, cliches, or through constantly quoting people and using the content of the quotation guide the occupants of the car toward the direction of the conversation. What if we ACTUALLY USED this technique as a fun way to teach corporate people the art of persuasion through conversation – a skill EVERY company wishes their employees had a greater handle on! The point is the possibilities here remain limitless

What about Roswell? Heavily populated City with an extremely urban FEEL to it? Not on your LIFE! Roswell is one of those iddy biddy towns whose only point of notoriety is ….you guessed it. Area 51. The alleged home of the captured aliens from the 50s. As a result, Roswell residents are left with a choice to either cling to it or hate it with a passion, but there’s no escaping or ignoring it. It surrounds them and as politicians have learned, when you have something like that, you view it for what it is – A small goldmine for tourism to increase incoming revenue. So If I were to live in surrounding areas (not Roswell itself), I would make it my business to tap into this town’s love for all things extra terrestrial – Because I know that if THEY can use it to make money for themselves…I can use it to make money as well. Because people will gladly pay to see something based on their interests – Which is what Theming a presentation is all about.

I don’t live in New Mexico, so Roswell may not be my thing. I have friends named Stretch and Leila Clendennen who live in Texas – ah TEXAS! Where EVERYTHING is large. In my opinion, that’s a presentation just WAITING to be birthed! If you ask them, though, I’m willing to bet they could share lengthy stories with people of great things that have happened in Texas, it’s role in the union through various historical points, the cultures that live there, places and points of interest, and more. A performance built around these concepts could be pitched to ANYWHERE within the state of Texas….And would be themed around the great state itself. What great booking agent, politician, organization, or ANY TEXAN for that matter would NOT have interest in that performance? Again, the key features of the performance would be focusing entirely around the very thing that the booker, as well as the attendees focus on….their pride in being a Texan and everything Texas holds dear.

I’ve merely tapped the surface with this. This article has been spent focusing on the concept of geography and how it applies to theming a show. More topics have been mentioned and will continue to be discussed in the few remaining articles of this series.

coming soon……Theming your Performance; The Bigger Picture – Part 8

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!

Journey to the Center of the StageBuy Jimmy’s DVD Journal to the Center of the Stage Today!

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. He has been married to Donna Leo for ten years and has two daughter named Miranda and Emily.

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