Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 14:17 UK
Busking school for streetwise acts

Street entertainer Mario Morris demonstrates a card trick with Dippy Duck

Mario Morris so enthralled his friends with tricks from his trade as a street entertainer that he's set up a school of busking in his home city of Cardiff.

Keen on magic since childhood, he decided to perfect his street act at the age of about 20.

Mario was inspired by a unicyclist in London's Covent Garden who made a silk handkerchief disappear.

His Cardiff School of Busking offers a three day intensive course to acts who want to hone their street skills.

Mario points out that while performers may have good circus or magic skills, to be a street entertainer they need to learn how to engage the passing public.

"The key to attracting a crowd is sound, movement and colour," he says.

"You have to make people curious - you have to be likeable otherwise people won't stay," he adds.

"Next step is to turn a crowd into an audience - a drunk man will attract a crowd but an audience is a completely different thing!"

The length of a street entertainer's performance can vary widely - Mario says 20 to 25 minutes is the norm for Cardiff, but it's only about 15 minutes in Spain, and in Edinburgh he was booked to perform for nearly an hour.

Although many performers make a living as street entertainers hired by local councils to add colour to their festivals, Mario says he feels no shame at being described as a busker.

"It's one of the most honest forms of theatre," he says, "where you (the audience) get to see the entire show first and then you decide how much it's worth and put the money in the hat."

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