David Hira, a magician, entertainer, and comedian, entertained families with different skits by performing “A Child’s Passport to Wonder” at the Irving Art’s Center on Thursday, Aug. 24.
The one-man show was organized by Irving Noon-Day Lion’s Club as a fundraiser for eyewear to benefit local students.
Hira performed several routines including balancing acts, puppet shows, escapes, making tables fly, an imaginary worm circus, and a retelling of an ancient story by using a traditional Japanese Nankin Tamasudare, or Nanjing Lily, a rare bamboo mat.
Through storytelling, Hira explored countries and cities around the world. He told the audience to imagine the theater as an airplane, and together they explored Moscow, India, Paris, Mexico City, and lastly a small farm in Rock Valley.
“My favorite part of the show was when the table started to fly,” said Grant (8). “You don’t have to be from that culture to appreciate it.”
“The puppet show part was very funny,” said Elliot (10). “I learned the imagination can go wherever you want it to go.”
“I enjoyed traveling to different locations and learning about different cultures,” said Joy, mother of Grant and Elliot. “I found out you can put your creativity to work while also entertaining others.”
Throughout his performance, Hira interacted with the audience by asking them to participate in several acts and calling guests onto the stage.
“The reason I decided to create this show was because I saw too many kids who didn’t even know how to make a paper airplane,” Hira said. “They never made one in their life. Their moms and dads love them to death, but they are so busy they have forgotten to show them basic creativity.
“When I go to restaurants, I see these poor kids with their parents playing with IPads, computers and phones, and they are missing all of life and all of the memories they can make.
“This is a morality play. It’s so much fun, but it teaches everyone in the end that our greatest national resources are children’s imaginations. It’s good to have those skills on the computer, but there is nothing that replaces a mom, a dad, and a grandparent sitting down and learning how to make a rubber band play gun or whatever else.
“It’s part of life, and its part of an upbringing,” he said. Making memories is what this show is all about.
“This show will run for probably a couple of more years. I’m not a young guy anymore. I am a grandpa myself. When I saw my own grandson, I just wanted, before I retire one day, to make a difference. If I could change the world one auditorium at a time, if I could inspire one kid, then I think that this show, and my life, and this stage would have been worthwhile.
“We can all do something, but not everything, and this is the something I can do,” he said.
A Child’s Passport to Wonder served as a fundraiser for the Lion’s Club, which helps people in communities who cannot afford eye care and eye exams.
In prisons, 75 percent of inmates are functionally illiterate at the 12th grade level and 19 percent are completely illiterate. Eighty-five percent of all juveniles who come into contact with the juvenile court system are illiterate.
“Did you know prison rates are high because of illiteracy, because kids couldn’t even see the blackboard,” Hira said. “It always comes down to something as simple as vision. It’s a statistic that’s true.”
According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), 60 percent of students who are unable to read proficiently by the fourth grade will have a higher chance of ending up in jail or on welfare.
“There are a lot of groups out there trying to change that,” Hira said. “We can change that by identifying kids when they are young and see if they are having trouble with vision. If we can help them to receive glasses, then we can change their lives forever.
“A huge amount of people are in prison because they couldn’t see or they couldn’t learn. When people made fun of them, that was the end of it. That’s why I’m glad this show is supporting the local Lion’s Club.”