A Peculiar Block
A prop and effect by Marc Charisse and Gemini Artifacts
“This is a toy block found among the personal effects of a pioneering child psychologist nearly a century ago — Dr. Bernard Yudkin. Dr. Yudkin used the block to analyze the personalities of the children he worked with; he believed whatever images a given child might be attracted to could tell him a lot about that child’s personality and psychological disposition.
“Today I’d like to try that process in reverse,” you tell the audience. "I’d like you to chose an image that speaks to you on some level while my back is turned. And I’ll see if I can figure out which you chose and what that says about you.”
Or perhaps the block was found in the nursery of a haunted house, having belonged to a child — now passed — who is believed to haunt the room: “It certainly seems to have curious properties, and can really get inside you head,” you say. “I know its gotten inside mine. Here, let me show you, as long as you’re not afraid of ghosts.”
This is my second rendition of the classic Color Vision, following The Alchemist’s Cube. My goal was to create a block that would lend itself not only to bizarre and mental magic, but to performances for children and their families as well. The images chosen for the block are, well, peculiar; they depict children at play, but there is something potentially edgy or not quite right about them that you can play upon as a performer. They were also chosen because of the many themes they touch on, leading to interesting readings and performances. At the same time, they can be treated simply as children playing, depending on the audience.
The box for A Peculiar Block is handmade of wood thinner than the box used for The Alchemist’s Cube. That is not only in keeping with the appearance of a child’s toy, but at 2 and 3/4 inches square may make it easier to execute moves associated with the effect.
A Peculiar Block comes with a linen carry bag, performance suggestions and tips for care and handling — a spectator-centered effect you will enjoy as much as your audiences.