Once again, I find myself starting my blog with an apology. It’s been months since I’ve last posted a blog. In fairness, I had a major surgical procedure on my right shoulder in November that put me out of commission for several weeks. I was concentrating on rehabbing that shoulder during me of the time I was silent.
I think most of the people who read this also follow me on Twitter and Instagram…and are Facebook friends. If you are, you hear from me many times during the day! If you’re not, I hope you’ll join me on all of these social media platforms.
I’d like to start off by letting all of you know that our short documentary, Powerful Medicine: Simply Magic continues to do well on the film festival circuit. Today we learned that it was named Best Documentary at the Hollywood Short Film Festival. I’ll be heading to Hollywood later this month to accept the award and do a Q&A after the screening.
Back to the tour: we’ve had a great run so far in 2015. We started in Florida where we managed to miss much of the cold weather that gripped the U.S.
Check out this picture – it’s one of my favorites from January! I had the privilege of spending several days with the amazing staff at the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, FL. One of many activities they had arranged for me was a visit to the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital. I performed a small show in the “Castle” area before spending time with some awesome kids, one on one, in the critical care unit. This photo was taken with two young ladies as we sat next to Dumbo…and yes, they are trying to put a clown nose on my face!
Hocus Focus is our non-profit corporation dedicated to improving the lives of individuals – regardless of age or ability – through the arts. I am currently working on having our websites redesigned to give people a better idea of where we are headed in the future. Stay tuned!
Dr. Phillips Center for the Arts is a new, spectacular performing arts venue in downtown Orlando. When I arrived, it had only been open for a few weeks. And while the building is impressive, the commitment of the staff to reach out into the community was even more impressive. They were also able to generate a great deal of national media attention as they announced their first sensory friendly show: Spencers Theatre of Illusion. What a privilege for us!
DR. PHILLIPS CENTER ANNOUNCES FIRST SENSORY FRIENDLY SHOW
Students with autism star in Social Story video and book
Created by The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
After spending 3 days with this team, it felt like we had known each other forever. The experience was so rewarding that I’m already looking forward to working with them again. There are so many possibilities ahead for us!
“We recently had the pleasure to have Kevin Spencer at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, in Orlando, FL. He and Cindy sold out their public performance and wowed our sensory friendly theater-goers with their second performance. The real magic that Kevin performed was in our area classrooms, hospitals and community organizations. Kevin’s ability to teach and use magic as a tool for healing, self-discovery and recovery is unmatched. We look forward to bringing him back in the near future.”
Alice Ramadan is the media copywriter for the Dr. Phillips Center but she is also the mother of an 18-year son on the autism spectrum. She shared these comments with the staff who shared them with me.
“As an actor and writer, it’s always meaningful to me when another performing artist finds new ways to connect with the audience. Kevin Spencer has gone an additional step of reaching into the world of autism, bringing with him his engaging personality, his kind teaching style, and a bit of magic. The Hocus Focus Project is incredible — not only is it fun, but it uses fine motor skills and requires a kind of focus that students on the autism spectrum need to practice. They are engaged on every level. Kevin performed an amazing show and thrilled our audience. There were children in that audience who aren’t able to go to the grocery store because of their behaviors. It was truly a miracle for their parents and caretakers to see them out and engaged, in such an amazing facility, with such a generous performer.”
Dolly Hand Center for the Arts – Belle Glade, FL: I first worked with the director here many years ago as a part of the opening season of the Dolly Hand Center. This time, I had the pleasure of working with her in a different capacity. She collaborated with the Director of Special Education to bring the Hocus Focus program into several classrooms. Jayna was one of the teachers with whom I worked. She shared her thoughts about the program:
“I just wanted to say ‘THANK YOU!’ for thinking of us for the Hocus Focus program. It was one of the BEST programs we’ve ever had for our special needs students. Kevin was right on target with his hands on, individual approach. He was able to involve them, get them to use their expressive language and engage them in the whole learning process. He made the program about them, listened to them and incorporated their experiences. It wasn’t really about the magic; it was about the kids and getting things out of them that others haven’t. He is welcome any time with our students! We want more! Thanks again!!”
After wrapping up in Belle Glade, we were off to West Palm Beach for three shows in the Village Theaters – Boca Raton, Pembroke Pines, and West Palm Beach. We had wonderful audiences for all three performances – great volunteers and incredible enthusiasm. But they also took advantage of some of my “creative aging” activities by hosting a Healing of Magic workshop each morning of the performance. The number of residents that participated in the event was beyond our expectations! And the laughter and applause that echoed from the room was heart-warming and healing. You can see from the picture they were having fun as they mastered some simple magic tricks! This photo was taken of our last group in West Palm of almost 200 participants!
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, the film continues to do well on the Film Festival circuit. We’ve been accepted for screening at the Outside the Box Festival (CA), Hollywood Short Film Festival (CA), Richmond International Film Festival (VA), and the Inspiration Film Festival (FL). February is a big announcement month when we will hear if we’ve made the “official selection” list for several other major international film festivals. We are keeping our fingers crossed!
I promise I’ll do a better job of keeping you up to date. The tour is a busy one this spring….hope to see you on the road!