Originally appeared in “Performing for Children in a Magically Delightful Manner” by Duane Laflin (Currently Out-Of-Print)
Four ropes, each a different color, are tied together. When wrapped around the magician’s hand, they become one long rope.
A commercially avialable product known as “The Red, Yellow, Black and White Rope Trick”
“Who is special? Have you ever wondered about this? Who has a life that is important and worthwhile? Here is a trick that can remind us of the truth about who is special. It uses four ropes. Each is a different color.” Begin tying the ropes together while saying the following:
“The colors can remind us that people are different. Do people all look the same? The answer is no. Some are short, some are tall. Some have blond hair, some have black hair. You may even know someone who has no hair! And people are different colors.” Continue tying the ropes together.
“I have never seen anyone who is bright red or yellow, but there are people who have dark skin and there are others who have light skin. There are many shades of skin color. More than that, people come from different cultures so they do different things and speak different languages. People have different abilities too — Some are very athletic, some are not. Some have wonderful artistic skills, others do not.” By now you should be done tying the ropes together, so begin wrapping them around your hand.
“With all the differences that there are in people, could it be true that one kind of person is better than the others? Could it be true that is you do not have the same athletic ability as another person or if you do not look like another person that you then are not as important as the other person?” Indicate the ropes wrapped around your hand.
“Notice how the ropes are now around my hand. This is like the fact that there are many different kinds of people all around the world. What do we know about all these people?” Unwrap the rope — stealing away the gimmicks in the process. Now show that it is not four ropes, it is one.
“Here is what we know…when it comes to being important and special we are all in the same situation. Even though there are different colors, it is just one long rope- isn’t it? Even though people are different from one another, the same thing is true about all of them. Every life matters. No matter who we are, no matter what we look like – no matter what we can do and no matter where we live – there is something important about our lives. So we should not feel bad about ourselves. Instead we should believe that good things can happen in our lives and we should be looking for ways to make those good things happen.”
I realize the patter may sound “preachy”, and I suppose it is. I also know from performances in many school situations, and in other places were children are present, that the trick and message combination is very well received.
I do not recommend having the entire show featuring “lesson magic”. But I do think there is a place for giving a positive message during the course of a show. If you are doing an educational based program…a message of some kind is expected. In fact, if y! ou do no t have a message, they will not bring you back again.
Educators seem to appreciate challenges given to students about seeing the value in diversity. Many children need to know that the significance of life is not found in how they compare to others. It is found in making the most of whoever they are as individuals. If you give this lesson idea a try, I suspect you will find yourself using it again and again.
After recommending the lesson I must also make it clear that I do not mean that it is good to make a ten minute lesson out of this trick. The patter should be given at the same time the rope trick is being done. When the rope trick ends, the patter ends quickly thereafter. Altogether it is maybe a five minute presentation. Routines with positive messages are good, as long as the performer does not get long-winded.