Monday, October 21, 2013

The Essence of All Art is Presentation

"For the art of magic, this means 'dramatization.'  That is that the trick, as our basic element can only be a means or a building block in our play, farce, comedy, or drama.  The trick, presented by itself, has no artistic value, as a "harmonic" on the violin is only a virtuosic flourish, a "trick," if it is played all by itself, without the composition from which it has been taken."

"An artistically presented trick loses its character as a trick. It ceases to exist as an independent entity. The spectator will no longer think of the trick, but of the event into which it is imbedded. As long as the audience still concerns itself with figuring out "how," it is either an artistically unappreciative or illogical audience, or our drama was not breathtaking. The heart remained cold."

"Also in the "art of magic" (which sounds better than the more applicable "art of illusion"), the art is the heart of all things. The trick, the magical effect, can only appeal to and stupefy the intellect. ("Stupefy" reminds one painfully of stupid!) This leaves our emotions cold and unmoved. There is no spiritual content, no experience. An artist can call forth the gamut of human emotion by magic - from smiles, to shock, to horror, to tears. This may sound somewhat eccentric to some 'tricksters', but that does not alter the facts."


*from the book Magical Adventures and Fairy Tales

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It's all about....them.

Most people are chiefly interested in themselves and to sell your magic to any audience you must find out what most of them are interested in.  You will have to ask yourself if your magic addresses any of these popular interests of people around the world? And if not, how can you incorporate these interests into your show?  Be brutally honest...what tricks do your audiences love & why do they love them?

The Closer.

The majority of any audience tend to easily recall the ending of any show. Think about the last movie you saw and you will probably find that the ending is what you remember quite easily. So how can you create the most powerful ending to your routines or show that will also contain a memorable impact? Human brains hate to be bored and love the unexpected. Do something unusual. Do something unpredictable. Close your performances with a key script line and the most important visual image you want everyone to go home talking about and remembering for years to come. If you do this correctly, they will.


Human brains love a story. Stories and storytelling are probably  the most common and popular features of all global cultures. As human beings we have a natural ability to tell stories, and an equally deep-seated desire to be told stories. For thousands of years. religions have attracted disciples and followers and passed down principles through stories, parables and tales. Aesop's fables, the epics of Homer and Shakespeare's plays have all survived for centuries and have become a part of popular culture because they are extremely good stories. Stories, anecdotes and real-life examples should be use whenever possible if you want you routines to be remembered and to make an indelible human connection with your audience.

It's a lot about style.

The WAY you deliver and sell your magic to your audience is much more important than WHAT it is you actually do. .  Professor Albert Mehrabian carried out some investigative research several years ago, to find out which factors most influence an audience during a presentation or performance.  This research showed that most of what an audience remembers are things they have seen. The next important factor is the tone of voice used by the performer and the least influential factor is the actual content of the show or presentation.  According to Mehrabian's study the ratios are as follows; visual impact 55%, tone of voice 38%, and script and content 7%. It's not that content isn't important, but if you fail to get the visual side of it (body language, use of props, blocking and volunteer management) right and then compound that failure by not sounding right, then the content won't matter at all.

If it's not on the page - it's not on the stage.

I meet many magicians (professional and amateur) who tell me that they don't want to script their routines because they want to improvise and be spontaneous. First, to improvise you need to have something to improvise upon - this is called a script! Second, this is just laziness.  If you want to be different, make your routines uniquely your own and feel the satisfaction that comes from real work - start scripting your material. This does not mean a full word-for-word memorization and delivery, but it does mean that you thought about, and wrote down what you want to say.  Be sure to memorize your routine's opening and closing line.

Be yourself.

Your routines, methods and clothing are not your performance. You are your performance. I know this is not what the manufacturers of the latest tricks are telling you (Bill Abbott?!) but it is the unvarnished, naked truth.  You should choose tricks you can put your "originality" stamp onto and that are inherently a part of who you are.  How is it yours? How are you presenting it differently that anyone else on the planet? Will you still be performing this routine ten years from now (and loving it)? You don't have to re-invent the wheel but it would be nice if you painted it your favourite colour.