Artist Connect: Larry Wilson-Slightly Askew Productions

In honor of the month of March being Theater in Schools Month, Young Audiences honors our artists who showcase the power of theater in arts education. All "Artist Connect" blog posts will feature our many artists who use theater to engage students. 

Remember: Young Audiences is offering a $100 discount on Larry Wilson and nine other roster artists. Available until March 31st! Find out more about that here

 Larry Wilson has performed in schools across America, teaching magic and the scientific principles behind a magician’s secrets, including friction, magnetism, static electricity, surface tension, persistence of vision, depth perception and psychology. Larry has performed at the Magic Castle, the most famous club for magicians in the world, in addition to hundreds of appearances on television, a nomination for an Emmy award, his own television specials and live performances all over the world.

Larry Wilson has performed in schools across America, teaching magic and the scientific principles behind a magician’s secrets, including friction, magnetism, static electricity, surface tension, persistence of vision, depth perception and psychology. Larry has performed at the Magic Castle, the most famous club for magicians in the world, in addition to hundreds of appearances on television, a nomination for an Emmy award, his own television specials and live performances all over the world.

Getting to know...Larry Wilson

Can you tell us a little bit about your art form?

Magic? What’s to tell? Everyone loves it because we all secretly believe there is more to life than what we see on the surface. When you have that moment of pure astonishment it feels like, “I knew it!”

What is your teaching philosophy and how do you use that to approach each new audience/classroom?

My philosophy is very controversial. I believe—and I know some people will say I’m crazy for saying this—that children are actually miniature people. Everything begins and ends with communication so you must understand what matters to them, what are their hopes and fears. Then you can frame things in a way that makes sense to them. They can learn anything if you present it in a manner that resonates with them.

How do the lessons and skills you teach students about or through your art form apply to their everyday life outside of the classroom?

Nothing is really impossible. That’s quite empowering for kids who frequently feel they have no power. It’s tempting to think that life is a fixed, static reality. Magic demonstrates dramatically that it is not. We believe what we perceive. And once you begin to understand that you possess the power to affect how you are perceived you realize that most limitations are self-imposed.

Why do you believe it is important for every student to have access to the arts?

For the same reason Renaissance scholars encouraged it. Our capacity for development is unlimited. But, it doesn’t happen if you’re focused on one specific discipline to the exclusion of all others. Ideally, students should be exposed to music, painting, dance, theater, as well as mathematics, science, language arts and critical thinking. It’s the mix that makes great minds.

How does your art form help connect students to what they are learning in school?

Magic is just the word we use to describe things that seem impossible. Once we know how they’re done we use a different word—science! Students see that mastery and expertise are within their reach. I actually created a syllabus for teachers to use in conjunction with my program, “Top Secrets for Wizards in Training.” I have lesson plans they can use to teach about magic with science, magic with mathematics, magic with art, magic with language arts, magic with history and even magic with music. There is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to magic. Once you get students talking about what they’ve learned from me, it’s easy to make the jump to other subjects.

How did you first hear about Young Audiences? What made you decide to become a roster artist? 

I’m Executive Director of a nonprofit in Northern Nevada devoted to bringing the arts to school children. I travel back and forth between Reno and the Bay Area constantly so I did a little investigating and found Young Audiences. I’d rather be performing than sitting around in a hotel room so it’s perfect for me. I coordinate my corporate evening shows in the Bay Area with Young Audience shows during the day and it’s been a match made in heaven.

What has been the most memorable part of the programs you have brought to
students with Young Audiences? Do you have a favorite memory from a program?

 The most memorable part is the look on the faces of the teachers—they don’t expect me to be able to hold the attention of such young children for so long.

What are three words that describe your performances?

Theatrical. Mind-blowing. Fun.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Thank you to Larry Wilson for providing these responses. Learn more about them here!

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