Entertaining in Hospitals – Tips for Performers by David Fox

Book Image 1

Biography

4995CD44-54EA-402E-8A1A-4A30A59575EB
Photograph courtesy of Ritchie Sumpter Photography

David Fox is a professional entertainer and freelance writer who is based in the UK. A highly experienced performer, he often provides magic at hospitals.

In 2012 David was invited to entertain celebrity guests and dignitaries at HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London, and in 2015 he provided a unique magic show at Westminster Abbey Choir School’s centenary party.

The winner of the Wedding Industry Expert’s 2014 poll in the category of ‘Best Magician’, David secured the most votes worldwide for his act. In 2018, David won Luxlife Magazine’s accolade of ‘Magician of the Year’.

A member of the prestigious Magic Circle and Equity, David creates his own unique magical effects and routines to suit all types of audiences.

Visit David’s website at: www.magician-midlands.co.uk

Follow him on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/davidfoxmagician

Instagram: David Fox Magic

Twitter: @DavidFoxMagic

Why Perform?

Book Image 3

Providing entertainment on hospital wards is one of the most enriching and fulfilling journeys an artist can undertake. Whether you are a seasoned performer seeking to hone and improve your act, or someone who is yet to test yourself in front of a live audience, it is an opportunity to be seized upon.

It has been scientifically proven that exposure to the arts will greatly assist in both the treatment and recovery of patients. The prospect of a stay in hospital is daunting for the convalescent; as well as for their friends and family. However, the appearance of a cheerful entertainer can significantly lighten the load and offer much needed pleasure and amusement for all parties concerned.

Regardless of age, culture or background, everyone can enjoy entertainment in a hospital, and it can help to instil a strong sense of camaraderie on the wards. It is an added bonus if staff members and the friends and families of patients get involved too. The performer can invite those present to step outside of themselves for a few priceless moments – despite the obvious gravity of the situation.

The life-experience and expertise you will encounter in a hospital is vast. If you are keen to improve your performance and delivery, it is indeed an excellent learning environment. Your audience will not only be delighted to see you and respect your art-form, but they can offer invaluable advice to help you continue on your journey. For example, I recently had the pleasure of entertaining an elderly magician who had once worked alongside the legendary Tommy Cooper. It was a massive honour to perform magic for him, receive some excellent advice, and listen to several hilarious anecdotes about the master!

I have been immensely privileged and fortunate to have entertained on hospital wards for many years. Indeed, I really hope that this little guide will open doors: granting you the confidence and inspiration to go forth and share your talents with new audiences.

Best wishes

David Fox

Hospital Entertainment

Book image 2

Have you got what it takes to entertain on a hospital ward? If you do, you’re made of sterner stuff than most. A hospital is one of the most challenging places to entertain, but also one of the most rewarding.

Before accepting a booking at a hospital, it is very important to consider the following points:

1. You will be entering a high pressure environment where staff are making life and death decisions on a daily basis. You must be mindful of this at all times.

2. Some patients may be recovering from complex surgery and/or have life-threatening illnesses and conditions.

3. Family members and friends of patients may be in a state of distress and be affected deeply by the condition of their loved ones.

4. The condition of patients, as well as the working environment in a hospital, can change suddenly and is in a constant state of flux.

5. Doctors, nurses and hospital staff are often working long hours to ensure patients get the best treatment. They may be coming to the end of a shift when they meet you.

Indeed, it could be said that it takes a very special type of entertainer to deliver an effective and appropriately customised performance on a hospital ward. You will need to think on your feet at all times; and outside the box too whenever necessary.

book image 4

Before discussing the nuances of performance, it is vital to follow these golden rules:

Rule One – Find out as much as you can about the patients you will be entertaining prior to your visit. What is their profile? Age grouping? Condition? How could you customise your act to suit them effectively?

Rule Two – Health and Safety issues. Are you required to conduct a Risk Assessment? Do the hospital need copies of your Criminal Reference Check or insurance? Is there anything in your act which represents a health risk for patients? For example, I always thoroughly clean my props before entering a hospital. Think very carefully.

Rule Three – It is vital that you secure the name, or names, of staff who will be onsite to guide you to the ward(s) you will be entertaining on. Get a mobile number or two that you can text/call on arrival. Hospitals are often huge places and it can be easy to get lost. Your contacts can also introduce you effectively to staff on the wards.

Rule Four – Appearance. Make sure you dress appropriately for your visit. Smart attire and good personal hygiene go a long way – especially on a hospital ward. This will allow you to make an instantly positive connection with staff and patients which will greatly increase your chances of an excellent performance.

Rule Five – Always arrive VERY early at the hospital. Parking can often be tricky at such establishments and you may need to pay (so take plenty of change and find out about parking levies in advance). I normally arrive at least an hour prior to the start of my performance as it gives me plenty of time to get my bearings. But you can never be too early. Most hospitals have a canteen where you can have a drink prior to the start of your slot.

Rule Six – Always be VERY positive and cheerful in and around the hospital. Remember, your responsibility is to raise morale, entertain and amuse. Make sure you are smiling and in a positive frame of mind as soon as you enter the hospital grounds. From that moment on the show begins and you must rise to the challenge.

Rule Seven – Be prepared for some rejection and NEVER take it personally. Some patients, family members and staff may not wish to participate. You must understand that this is nothing personal about you – they are simply enduring a challenging time. The majority of people will be very thankful for your presence – so keep your chin up!

Book image 6

Essentially you may be called upon to entertain in four distinct types of area in a hospital:

1. Public Space – This could be in a foyer, canteen or lounge area. Visitors, patients and staff may congregate here, or simply be passing through such a space. You will have to pitch your performance to suit a wide range of people and accept the transient nature of your audience. People will be coming and going all the time, and you will have to work hard to make an effective impact.

Flamboyant musicians, quick witted comedians and colourful circus characters are well suited to working in such a high intensity environment. Whenever I am asked to perform in a public area, I will always perform my most eye-catching illusions and attempt to quickly draw in and engage groups of people. Human beings are naturally curious and will feel inclined to gravitate towards a crowd watching an exciting and unusual spectacle.

Book image 5

2. Communal Area – This is usually a more secluded lounge facility which is located on a ward of the hospital. Unlike the Public Space, such an area is more sedate, and provides a tranquil sanctuary for patients, visitors and staff to spend time together and relax. These are normally long-stay patients who are convalescing. Indeed, the performer must be mindful of their conditions in order to pitch an appropriate style of show.

I find that normally a relaxed twenty to thirty minute performance of magic goes down very well in such areas of a hospital – particularly for groups of up to around twenty people. The show may be impromptu, but it is even better if the patients are aware of your appearance in advance. This means that you are automatically guaranteed a sympathetic audience who have come to see you by their own volition.

Indeed, if you know that the hospital is going to use your act at a specific time in a Communal Area, it is always worthwhile to send them posters and flyers to display around the hospital. This increases the likelihood of a sizeable audience who will appreciate your act.

3. Wards – Patients will be situated in private bays on a ward and will either be in bed or be seated. In the UK most hospital wards are comprised of several rooms with an average of six patients in each at any given time. You will need to be very sensitive when entering such an area of the hospital. Indeed, the first few seconds are crucial when you enter the ward and start to approach and engage patients. This factor is addressed in the following section: Ways to Engage.

book image 7

4. Individual rooms or bays – You may be invited to perform an exclusive show for one patient along with their close friends and family. This could take place either in a small room on the ward or at an individual bay In a communal space.

Such a performance will typically last for no more than around ten minutes. For safeguarding purposes, it is very important that you are never left alone with a patient. Always make sure that someone else is present at all times.

Ways to Engage

Engaging patients effectively and appropriately on the wards is an art in itself. Seasoned performers tend to develop a sixth sense when it comes to judging who can be approached successfully. However, for an entertainer who is just cutting their teeth in a hospital, the prospect can be terrifying. This needn’t be the case, and here are some tips to help you succeed:

book image 8

1. Listen very carefully to everything the matron, nurses, doctors and staff tell you on the ward. They will normally direct you to patients who are likely to be the most receptive.

2. Always maintain your composure and never rush on the ward. This can be tricky if you have been entertaining in another part of the hospital already and your adrenaline is running high! Keep your cool and allow the staff present to take the lead. If they decide to introduce you to the patients, this is a massive ‘way in’ to start your performance.

3. Read the patients before starting your performance. Eye contact and a smile is normally a good indication that someone is pleased to see you – but do they want to be entertained?

I find that engaging patients in some light small talk prior to starting my magic is always very effective. I keep the conversation very light at first and ask them some simple questions about where they live, if their family or friends have been to visit, the weather etc…

They are normally very keen to converse. At an appropriate time, I then invite them to participate in a little magic. Usually they are delighted to be entertained. However, if they decline my offer, I never take it personally. I always tell them that I fully understand, but if they change their mind later, I would be more than happy to return.

This keeps everything very positive. Indeed, some patients may be happy to engage in a brief chat with you and not feel like being entertained. In this instance you might not have had an opportunity to demonstrate your talents, but you have helped cheer up a sick person which is a bonus in itself. Always look on the bright side and never take anything personally on a hospital ward. You are likely to receive some degree of rejection each time you visit, but there will always be patients, visitors and staff present who will really appreciate you and what you have to offer.

book image 9

4. Don’t overstay your welcome. Keep reading the reactions of the audience throughout your set. It is imperative that you are very sensitive to this factor on a hospital ward. I generally find that a slot of around five to ten minutes is sufficient at an individual bed/bay. If you happen to be entertaining several patients in a room, around fifteen minutes is normally a good guide. You will get better at judging this as you gain more experience on the wards.

5. Be dignified if you are asked to cut your set short. Sometimes a doctor or nurse may interrupt you in order to medicate or speak to patients. Family members may appear and want to spend some quiet time with their loved ones. Once again, it is vital that you maintain your composure and do not display any negative emotions. Keep smiling and be positive at all times. You can always return to the area later if this is possible.

6. If you are using humour in your act, keep it light and be mindful of your audience. Your job is to brighten up the day for the patients – not offend anyone.

Keep any conversation upbeat too. I tend to talk about holidays, travel, family, sports, history and hobbies when on hospital wards. These subjects tend to elicit a very positive response and help to take patients out of themselves for a short while – along with the magic!

book image 10

I do hope this short guide has been useful for you, as well as providing food for thought. Thank you for reading and good luck with your future performances!

Useful Contacts and Links

Equity – Entertainers and Actors’ Union – www.equity.org.uk

For a Basic DBS Check, visit the Government website  – www.gov.uk/government

Air Arts – innovative charity bring the arts into hospitals – www.airarts.uk

David Fox Magic – for entertainment options at events: www.magician-midlands.co.uk

Win a Marvellous Magic Set!

magic set 1

Do you want to learn magic? Or perhaps you know someone who would like this amazing magic set as a gift?

Magic set 2

Simply follow the instructions below to enter our competition.

  1. Like David’s page on Facebook to enter: David Fox Magician
  2. Solve the riddle and send us your answer through the link on David’s magic website ‘Magician Midlands’ – highlighted below.

The Riddle

I go by four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three in the evening. What am I?

Send your answer to the riddle, including your name, email address and contact mobile number, by clicking on this link: Magician Midlands

Good luck everyone!

The deadline for entries is: Midday on Saturday the 29th February 2020.

The prize draw will take place on Sunday 1st of March 2020 and the winner will be announced at 12pm that day on David’s Facebook page and on this blog.

Terms and Conditions

  1. The competition is only open to UK residents.
  2. Entrants must be over the age of 16.
  3. You must ‘like’ the Facebook page and enter via the contact form on the website to be included in the prize draw.
  4.  Deadline for entries is Midday (12pm) on Saturday 29th February 2020.
  5.  The winner will be announced at midday (12pm) on Sunday 1st March 2020 on David’s Facebook page and on this blog.
  6. The judge’s decision will be final and the Magic Set will be sent by Royal Mail first class special delivery to the winner on Monday 2nd March.

 

Happy Birthday Rachel!

 

IMG_2837

I was delighted and very flattered when Jamie and Rachel asked me to perform magic at a very important birthday bash in Nottingham recently! The venue was the fantastic Botti Di Mamma in Hockley and it definitely was a memorable and magical occasion.

IMG_2839

Rachel’s family and close-friends were not only treated to the exquisite ambience and exceptional cuisine of this first class venue, but the talents of Nottingham musical quartet The Money ensured it truly was a fantastic evening. Jamie has known the band for many years and was delighted that they could be part of such an important event. They are always a massive hit wherever they perform!

IMG_2840

It was a privilege to mingle with such a warm and receptive group of people, and I was also delighted to perform a little customised magic for both Rachel and her father Brian. Indeed, it was very kind of Jamie and Rachel to invest their trust in me for such a big night, and I always hope that I can repay this in my performance.

IMG_2838

A very important occasion calls for a very talented cameraman, and Will Slater was present in order to expertly capture the proceedings. As you can appreciate from the photographs proudly displayed in this article, Will’s timing, sixth-sense and attention to detail is immaculate.

IMG_2843

Overall, the party was a resounding success and friends and family partied well into the small hours! Happy birthday Rachel! And well done to everyone for helping to create such a tremendous occasion – I hope that you and Jamie had a great time in the USA.

IMG_2842

Seeking a unique Nottingham cafe, restaurant or venue? Visit Botti Di Mamma at: 15 Broad Street, Nottingham, NG1 3AJ. Telephone: 0115 924 1112.

For exceptional music at your next event, contact: http://www.showmethemoneymusic.com/

Do you require a top quality Midlands photographer? Visit Will Slater’s website now at: https://www.willslater.net/

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer based in the Midlands. Website: David Fox Magic Phone Number: 07946686258

Magic at the Sheffield Hilton

Hilton Table Best
Magic at the Sheffield Hilton Hotel – Photograph Courtesy of Alex Kentfield

Well done to Jessica, Nicole and Vicky of JNV events for hosting such a fantastic occasion at Sheffield Hilton Hotel last month! It was a massive privilege to be part of this very special Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed evening – and over one thousand pounds was raised for the Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity!

 

Hilton Show
It was a pleasure to perform a show for everyone present as well as close-up effects! Photograph courtesy of Alex Kentfield

The team at JNV ensured that everyone had a magical night to remember at this stunning venue in the heart of Sheffield. The event was expertly hosted by the jovial Ian J France, and the guests were treated to the talents of vocalist Sylvester Gold after enjoying a delicious three course meal.

Hilton 2
Mindreading during drinks reception! Photograph Courtesy of Alex Kentfield

Photographer Alex Kentfield was on hand to capture the vibrancy and energy of a truly spellbinding evening, and I must thank him for kindly allowing me to display his exceptional work in this blog article. The professionalism of Creswell Sound and Vision also ensured that the proceedings ran smoothly and the attendees were treated to an impressive variety of exciting activities and games!

Hilton Table
JNV treated the guests to a magical evening! Photograph courtesy of Alex Kentfield

Well done to everyone for working together for such a tremendous cause! I hope to have the opportunity to perform magic for you all again in the future.

Best wishes. David Fox.

Photographer Alex Kentfield’s website is: AJK Creative

For magic around the Sheffield area, please visit David’s website at: David Fox Magic.

Magical Wedding Days at Swancar Farm

IMG_0284

Swancar Farm has developed a sterling reputation as one of the Midlands’ finest wedding venues. Located in close proximity to Nottingham city centre, yet situated in several acres of idyllic rolling countryside, it offers unique rustic charm coupled with accessibility.

IMG_0282

Couples can enjoy their dream wedding day in the seclusion and privacy of the garden, courtyard and spacious function suites. The diligent events team and exceptional in-house caterers will also ensure it truly is a day to savour and enjoy. It also offers immaculate accommodation for those who may prefer to remain in situ.

IMG_0283

Swancar Farm is a venue I always thoroughly enjoy performing magic at. I have many fond memories of mingling with guests outside on glorious summer days, and of performing parlour magic in the elegantly furnished orangery. Most recently, it was a massive privilege to provide entertainment during Dave and Kerry’s evening reception immediately after the speeches. This is a venue which truly offers many exciting opportunities for my style of magic.

If you are currently seeking a wedding venue in the East Midlands, visit Swancar Farm’s website at: www.swancarfarmcountryhouse.com or for friendly support and advice telephone: 0115 930 6528.

For magic on your wedding day, please visit: www.magician-midlands.co.uk or text/call: 07946686258.

Greenfingers Florists – Exceptional Arrangements For All Occasions.

IMG_1115
Greenfingers’ stunning display at a recent open day at Risley Hall. Their arrangements have to be seen to be believed.

Are you seeking an exceptional florist in the Nottingham area? Greenfingers Florists of Chilwell are an outstanding family business who have been providing first class arrangements for over two decades.

IMG_1116
Exceptional displays for all occasions.

Based on High Road, Chilwell, NG9 5BB, you can expect a very warm welcome if you pop in for a consultation. Sharon and the team have a sharp eye for detail and a sensitivity for all your unique requirements.

IMG_1117
Contact Greenfingers now for a superb service!

Contact Greenfingers now on 0115 943 0792 for more details or email: enquiries@greenfingersshop.co.uk

Their website also has more details about this fantastic service: www.greenfingersshop.co.uk

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional magician and freelance writer based in the UK. Visit his website at: www.magician-midlands.co.uk

Life in the Fast Lane – Barry Sheene, Silverstone and Seventies Nostalgia

08550bca-7b6c-497f-9e58-7eba154d33a8.jpeg
Barry Sheene. Copyright/ Nick Elliott Photographer

‘It was a more open time all round, and heroes like Barry Sheene were touchable, human, and keen to interact with everyone’

Nick Elliott on the 1970s

The 1970s was a definitive decade socially, culturally and politically. By Nick Elliott’s own admission, it was a great time of exploration and experimentation. Having been an avid motor-sport fanatic in his youth, Nick was in dreamland when top end magazines such as Motorcycle News and Motorcycle Racing commissioned him to capture the action on race days.

40502832_703961526621862_9099690576596434944_n
Nick Elliott has always had a passion for racing. Copyright Nick Elliot/ Photographer

A passion for racing has resonated within Nick since childhood, and he and brother Gary frequently raced motorbikes and cars throughout the UK during their adolescence. Some of the Peterborough photographer’s earliest and fondest memories involve off-road biking with friends and family. A devil-may-care attitude, and propensity for risk taking quickly evolved, and this is clearly reflected in Nick’s exceptional and unique brand of photography.

40526240_379644262570935_7151331508043644928_n
Steve Parrish (now a well respected commentator for motor-sport) in action back in the 1970s. Copyright/ Nick Elliot Photographer

Nick often fondly recalls memories of iconic venues such as Silverstone and Donington Park in the 1970s when legends such as Barry Sheene and Giacomo Agostini graced the track. Such superstars burned the candle at both ends, and Nick enjoyed rubbing shoulders with these larger than life characters before and after their sensational performances. The champagne flowed – along with the incredible tales of past glories – in the race course bars where Nick became privy to the personal strife and struggles of the world famous stars of motor racing.

40484278_723235128013028_562875899595194368_n
Nick Elliott was able to get close to the stars in the 1970s. It was a different world. Copyright/ Nick Elliot Photographer

Nick Elliott was present for Barry Sheene’s sensational World Championship victories in 1976 and 1977. He also fondly remembers the indefatigable Englishman’s clashes with Kenny Roberts in the 1979 Grand Prix at Silverstone. These profound experiences have left a massive impression upon Nick, fashioning him onto the distinctive lens-man he is today.

barry sheene
Lucky 7! Nick with Barry Sheene’s iconic bike. Copyright/ Nick Elliot Photographer

More details about Nick Elliott and his work can be found at: www.nickelliott.photography or phone him on: 07881 650883.

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional magician and freelance writer based in the UK. Visit David’s website at: www.magician-midlands.co.uk or phone him now on: 07946686258.

All images copyright of Nick Elliott Photographer.