We have been sent a report from Dr S Curan who went to Japan at the end of last year. He attended the Japanese Ventriloquist Festival and gave a presentation with Elwood about ADHD:
This is super news as we get a lot of requests for help in Japan so it is good to hear that there are things going on over there to raise awareness. Check out our Links page for links to websites in Japan.
"I was fortunate enough to be invited to conduct a workshop at the first ever
Japanese Ventriloquist Festival in Tokyo this November 17th and 18th.
Therefore, on November 14th, my wife, Mary, and I took off for Narida,
The festival was organized by Mr. Takeshi Ikeda, president of the newly
formed Japanese Ventriloquist Association. About 150 ventriloquists
attended the festival and considerably more people attended the shows which
were open to the public. I must admit that Ikeda San, for his first
festival, did a marvelous job. I'm sure that all who attended would agree
that they not only profited by the experience but also enjoyed it a great
Americans participating besides me were Randel McGee, Kerry Summer, Buddy
Big Mountain, Richard Paul, and Richard's two sons. Stevo was there from
Germany and acted as the emcee and also performed. Last but not least,
Dennis Chan was there from Canada. Dennis has attended every single Las
Vegas Festival to date and so decided that he didn't want to miss this
There were too many highlights to mention them all, but I will write about a
few. On Friday night there was a welcoming party and all of us were given
beautiful fleece jackets as gifts. On Saturday we started with workshops
Many of the Japanese vents were excellent, with superior lip control.
Unfortunately, large segments of most of the performances, both in Japanese
and English, were not translated. The performers apparently felt that
translation broke their rhythm. Hearing a lot of performances in a
unfamiliar language helped me to appreciate what our foreign guests
experience when they come to the American festivals and conventions. At
least at the Japanese Festival, some attempt was frequently made to
translate between Japanese and English.
The audience appreciated the songs and physical humor but had a much more
difficult time with the English dialogue since most of them did not
understand English. We English speakers, on the other hand, had a difficult
time with long dialogues in Japanese.
Eiichi Ono's Saturday night show was excellent. In addition to vent, it
included humorous mime, singing, and a Charlie Chaplin tribute. Without a
doubt, Ono's show was one of the most entertaining of the festival.
The pro show that evening included Kerry Summers and Buddy Big Mountain.
Kerry combines ventriloquism with magic, music, puppet impersonations, and
his Elvis impersonation. He was very entertaining and appreciated by the
Japanese audience. They liked his songs and particularly liked his Elvis
impersonation. As he walked around the audience, women, young and old, were
spontaneously kissing him. I guess I am in the wrong business! He
performed two different shows during the festival.
Buddy Big Mountain's show is both interesting and unique. He also performed
twice. His ventriloquism is very well done, and his act is humorous.
Besides ventriloquism, Buddy has made marionettes of Indian dancers. He had
six of them with him and he used them to perform Indian dances. At the end
of the sixth dance, his younger brother, Buffalo, came on stage in full
costume, much to the surprise of the audience. He danced briefly, and it
was a great climax to a superior act.
Buffalo's wife is an air force pilot stationed in Japan. Both Buddy and
Buffalo grew up in show business, performing Indian dances with their
parents in theme parks and other venues. Bill Boley was Buddy's mentor.
A highlight on Sunday was Randel McGee's performance in Japanese. The
children and adults loved it and appeared to understand most of what he
said. I always enjoy watching Randel and Groark perform, even though this
time I did not understand any of it.
Another highlight was Nick Paul, Richard's 14 year old son. He performed a
magic show entirely in Japanese. He had been working on it for over 2
months. He studies Japanese at school in Michigan. Again, the Japanese
audience was appreciative of his effort and appeared to understand him.
Workshops were on topics such as the business of ventriloquism (Richard
Paul), entertaining children (Randel), Life of Ventriloquism (Noboru
Kawakami), and finally my workshop on using ventriloquism to educate and
counsel young children.
At this point it is necessary to mention Dr. Kinoshita, our interpreter. He
worked well with all of the American workshop presenters and made it
possible for us to be more successful.
I thought that my workshop was quite well received. I performed part of one
of my vignettes on ADHD, and Dr. Kinoshita translated throughout. Maybe
because I am not a professional performer, I was less interested in the
rhythm of my performance and more interested in communicating. Dr.
Kinoshita and I even rehearsed before my workshop.
The part of my performance which I enjoyed the most was teaching Dr.
Kinoshita and Elwood the ADHD song. I would sing a phrase, Elwood would
repeat it, and then Dr. Kinoshita would sing it in Japanese. You can view
the ADHD song, unfortunately without Dr. Kinoshita, at my website,
I also showed some clips from my ADHD videos on a huge movie screen.
Because of the size of the screen, I decided to show my puppet, Elwood,
tap-dancing. No translation was need for this segment.
Finally, I premiered some public service announcements I have made with my
puppets. They are designed to help children who are having reactions to the
terrorism. It was the first public viewing of these 1/2 minute PSAs which
should soon start playing on Tucson TV stations.
There were other workshops and performances in Japanese, but it is difficult
for me to comment on these since I didn't understand them. I was aware,
however, that most of the Japanese performers were excellent.
The festival concluded on Sunday night when we had one last party to
celebrate a very successful event.
Besides being invited to participate by Mr. Ikeda, I was also invited to
lecture and perform for parents of retarded and autistic children. Dr.
Hara, a pediatrician and special education professor, not only invited us
but also hosted me and my wife at her home in Tokyo. We couldn't have had a
My talk to the parents and some children was a bit tricky. First the two
translators told me that they did not think that they were proficient enough
to translate. This did not help my confidence. Next, when I tried to play
some video, the equipment did not want to work. Therefore, I decided to
perform with my puppet Elwood.
I brought the children up to the front much to the surprise of the parents
who had them way in the back so that they would not disturb anybody.
Besides performing, I also demonstrated some concepts using the children. I
was lucky that they responded, and after that the audience was more open to
my talk. Even my translators decided to translate.
By the end of my presentation, many in the audience were quite moved. These
parents don't often have an opportunity to share their burden, and I felt
gratified that I was able to spend some time with them.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed my first Japanese experience and hope it
will not be my last one."