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Knives & Sharp objects

James C

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Had a one-man show for ages 5-7 in on Saturday. Small set - the action all took place on top of or beneath an 8' x 4' dining table. Great show - challenging for kids that age but not beyond them etc.

Imagine my delight when half-way through the show he produced an old fashioned meat-cleaver :( , brandished it about his table then lodged the point of the blade into the table (his table, not ours!). Audience all sat a safe distance away (assuming he didn't lose his grip and send it careering into the audience!), but being a Young Peoples' Venue, we do occasionally have little ones making a dash for the stage before our ushers can catch them (I'm always mystified when parents sat next-to, or a row behind their kids don't bother to stop or retrieve children who do this ;) )! I've never thought to include knives & sharp objects in the list of things I'd like to be warned about prior to a company's arrival, but rest assured, as of next season...!

It's a bit too late to ask for a risk assessment of something half-way through the show, and if you don't know what's in the prop box beforehand, you can't question it! A request for a fully-itemised list of props seems a bit excessive (to me, anyway - anyone else have any thoughts on this?), so does anyone else have a bit of policy relating specifically to the use of such things?

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A few thoughts

Maybe ask if the act involves juggling anything other than balls. If the answer if yes then suggest a safe working distance as with pryos. I know from friend’s props that the knives used are usually blunt. Although this won't stop them causing injury should they slip.

Also check for liabilty insurance for this type of act.


How would risk assessments work with acts such as the magician's trick of getting an audience member onstage and putting them in a guillotine?


'Well your honour I told the former audience member to come onstage and put their head in my stage guilotine, which I had just demostrated cutting vegetables in half. And they did and I cut their head off. Well it did what it said on the label.'




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Maybe ask if the act involves juggling anything other than balls.

If it had indeed been a conjuring, juggling, illusioning(??) or some such act, I would obviously have looked more closely into what their contraptions entailed. However, we don't programme that sort of thing - this was a piece of dark European hubristic drama (yes - it really was for 5-7 year olds!). We've had more versions of Jack & the Beanstalk through here than you could shake a...well...beanstalk at, and yet every company so far has thought better than to go flinging axes around the studio!

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