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Mario the Maker Magician on Stage

On Saturday, I went with family to see Mario the Maker Magician at the Sebastiani Theater in Sonoma, CA. It’s a great show to be there in person — and only the second live show at this theater since Covid. Mario’s energy, humor and caring come across powerfully and personally in ways that YouTube videos can’t deliver. It’s more than a magic show.

Mario made all the props in his show, a few of which use Arduinos. But what’s funny about his gadgets is that they don’t work as we think they should — they seem to have a mind of their own. He encourages kids to become makers and make things. His message is “do what you love,” which is unfurled on a banner at the end of his show.

Mario travels with his two children acting as stagehands and his wife, Katie, as his manager. The four of them made the “Do What You Love” banner in their hotel room the night before the show. They are dedicated to bringing Mario’s live show to communities across America and they are on the road for several months.

Mario's Do What You Love
Mario’s Do What You Love

Mario’s tour brings him to Oakland on Tuesday March 1 before he heads to Oregon and then Utah and Colorado. Go see the show, if you can, especially if you have children or grandchildren. Check the link below for tour dates and times:

Mario the Maker Magician Tour

If you can’t make it to one of his shows, please check out the books and kits of Mario the Maker Magician in Maker Shed. Make: is proud to publish these books and kit.

I told Mario that the war in Ukraine shows us how the world can be a brutal place but what he does reminds us that it can also be a magical place, full of creativity and love. Mario deserves to perform at schools throughout America as a reward for children who have braved the last two years. It’s great when we can enjoy being together again.

Mario’s real magic is holding the attention of several hundred children for over an hour, with all of them smiling, bouncing up and down in their seats, hands raised to come up on stage and being together to share that moment when a magician astonishes you by doing the unexpected. What good fun!

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

View more articles by Dale Dougherty