Sunday, July 21, 2013

Deaf magicians and Deaf Audiences

Over 10 years ago I was asked to perform at UVA for a group of people who had just received a revolutionary hearing device called a  cochlear implant. This hearing device was snapped to a fastener in their skull.
I was happy to do this show as I knew magic was universal, even though there would be lots of deaf folks in the audience it would be fine because magic is a visual art. This was my first experience with deaf audiences and since then I have performed for them on several occasions.

At this year’s National Society of American Magicians Convention they even had a special show dedicated to Silent magic. They even asked that instead of clapping that the audience hold their hands in the air and shake them as that is sign language for applause.  I was told the music for this event was crazy loud which makes sense if the performers were deaf that they needed to feel the music to make sure they hit their marks.

Silent acts in magic have been around for as long as magic itself, but it is usually not because the performer is deaf it is because that way they won’t need a script and they may just want the magic to speak for itself .

My friend Kyle Peron is a deaf performer in the Philly area. Here is a short excerpt from him: As most folks know...or maybe do not know....I am a deaf magician. I started losing my hearing at age 8 and it got worse as the years rolled on. I am now about 60-65% deaf in both ears. I lip read to understand what people say and I tend to feel music more than hear it. There are many magicians out there who have various disabilities. I commend them for never giving up or giving in. Magic for me was a saving grace. It brought me out of my shyness and helped me to learn to communicate better and focus more. In a way magic was a healing art for me. If you are reading this and have a disability (or know someone interested in magic that has one) I hope that it inspires you to go out there and get involved in the art. We do not have to stop doing what we love simply because it may be harder for us. What we must do is have a desire to go above and beyond and push ourselves to simply adapt. Magic and performing magic was a challenge for me and still is in some degrees. That does not mean I have to stop doing it. It does not mean I have to settle for second best. If the desire is there, work hard to come up with a means in which to accomplish what you want to accomplish. There is always a way to make it work for you.

Wes Iseli's Close up magic at the fair pt 2