Question for full-time performers

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Joe Mckay
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Question for full-time performers

Postby Joe Mckay » March 21st, 2017, 7:06 pm

I am not sure how many full-time performers we have here on the forum. But there is a question that I have always being curious about.

What is it that you most enjoy about performing a regular magic show? My understanding of being a pro is that you tend to perform the same tricks over and over. It is the only way to really perfect a piece of magic. As such - I wonder if it can become a bit boring? And can it soon become just a job?

Or perhaps the real joy come from knowing you have perfected a trick and can take pleasure from delivering magic that is strong and fully worked out?

Recently I read a great mentalism booklet by Craig Karges. Looking him up on youtube it seems he has been performing a similar show for decades now. He is a superb performer - no doubt due to the tremendous experience he has built up performing his show.
And I really enjoyed the lecture notes he wrote up (from the mid-80's). But I often wonder what drives a performer like that? My guess is that the drive is a professional one. In which you challenge yourself to deliver the best show you can each time you step on stage?

I know this happens with a lot of sportsmen as well. They start off loving the sport. But as their career progresses - they focus more on delivering results. And the only real enjoyment they get is from doing a good job. Perhaps that professional pride is what keeps a full-time professional going? As opposed to being wrapped up in the sorts of things that most other magicians and magic fans are.

David Copperfield and Bruce Springsteen are two of the most successful entertainers in show business. And two of the hardest working. And in each case it seems the real joy they get is from delivering a great show and trying to please their fans. In a sense - they want each show to be the best show they have ever done. And they perform knowing full well that for somebody in the audience it will be the first (and last) time that person will see them. So it is about making special memories as well.

All of this is very different to what draws most people into magic in the first place.

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Re: Question for full-time performers

Postby performer » March 21st, 2017, 7:26 pm

I have repeatedly said that as soon as money enters the picture the fun tends to go out of it. You are thinking money rather than art. You are thinking business, contracts, travel and a myriad of other things that have nothing to do with the art of magic itself. Your mentality changes and it DOES become a job. That is because it IS a job! The only real part of the job which is any fun or where you achieve artistic fulfillment at all is the time you spend on stage. And the artistic fulfillment will probably be diluted because you will have other things on your mind such as where is the next booking going to come from? Or how the hell am I going to drive home in this weather?

As Maskelyne stated in "Our Magic".

"Art is something with which money has no concern"

Mind you, I bet that didn't stop him from counting the box office takings every night!

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Andrew Pinard
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Re: Question for full-time performers

Postby Andrew Pinard » March 27th, 2017, 8:16 am

Hi Joe:

I'm sorry that more people have not responded to this! In my case, I have been supporting myself and my family performing magic for over twenty-five years. While there are lot of aspects to what I do that make it "a job", the performance part is the part that is not. Performing the same repertoire can be boring at times (especially if you are grinding it out day after day factory style - which describe the last couple of years I worked in restaurants; great venue, but the churn & burn can make it hard to connect), but every performer needs to find their audience and the conditions in which they can fly. Sometimes that makes it difficult, because building audiences and finding/creating a market/venue that feeds your soul is not always a direct line.

I love my core repertoire as the material is fully built into my neural network. I don't have to think about the moves, or the words, or the timing. I turn off the control and JUST BE. This allows me to experience the audience's delight and respond to every little nuance they feed me. Being that in touch with the material allows me to go "off book" to be in every moment, experiencing and reflecting the delight back at the audience. When I lecture I talk about transcending technique to be able to communicate with audiences on a deeper, human level. The longer you are with your material, the more you can learn from it, and the more it frees you up to exploring your performance goal. The last few years, my goal has been delight. I am dogged in exploring it through performance and strive to experience it fully every time I walk on stage. If you love, they will love.

The work is still there, but the reward is the performance.

I hope this provides some insight.

Andrew

Joe Mckay
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Re: Question for full-time performers

Postby Joe Mckay » March 27th, 2017, 8:40 am

Thanks for the response!

Being in that "flow" state with a piece of material is certainly something I envy about being a professional. Magic has to look effortless to really sing, and a lot of amateurs never stick with a trick long enough to get to that point.

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Re: Question for full-time performers

Postby performer » March 27th, 2017, 9:29 am

Indeed. But it is also important as I mentioned on another thread not to stagnate too, which can be a danger of doing the same material all the time. It is a good thing to, from time to time, to incorporate new material once in a while because as I stated elsewhere, your magic has to suit your personality and it is easy to forget that your personality can change over the years.

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Re: Question for full-time performers

Postby Brad Henderson » March 27th, 2017, 10:14 am

live performance is never repetitive. every person in front of whom you stand brings a new energy to the experience. every show is a brand new act of creation, even if you are doing the same tricks with the same lines. when you see only the same tricks and same lines, however, you are no longer performing - you are merely replicating.

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Andrew Pinard
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Re: Question for full-time performers

Postby Andrew Pinard » March 27th, 2017, 10:28 am

Stagnation can certainly be a problem, but it is usually one of the performer, not of the material.

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erdnasephile
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Re: Question for full-time performers

Postby erdnasephile » March 27th, 2017, 2:53 pm

Andrew Pinard wrote:Stagnation can certainly be a problem, but it is usually one of the performer, not of the material.


All: are there any tips/strategies you might be willing to share to help stave off stagnation please?

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Re: Question for full-time performers

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 27th, 2017, 4:06 pm

How do you describe the dynamics between what the director wants for the audience by intention with the work, what the performer does for the director to realize that intention, and what the performer does for the audience in performance?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Question for full-time performers

Postby performer » March 27th, 2017, 6:48 pm

erdnasephile wrote:
Andrew Pinard wrote:Stagnation can certainly be a problem, but it is usually one of the performer, not of the material.


All: are there any tips/strategies you might be willing to share to help stave off stagnation please?


There are. And I may explain them when I am in the mood. However, where stagnation is concerned blame Harry Lorayne for me pontificating on this matter. I complained a few months ago that I had enough tricks already and had no desire to learn any more. He informed me that if I don't learn any more (particularly the ones in his own books) I would "stagnate" Thus he gave me a mighty inferiority complex over the matter and I have decided to pass it along to the rest of you so you can share the complex along with me.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Question for full-time performers

Postby Richard Kaufman » March 27th, 2017, 7:46 pm

What Brad said.
Each interaction is a new one. Each time you communicate with a spectator that's a new interaction: if you pay attention to the people and their reactions, and interact with them, you won't get bored.
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Re: Question for full-time performers

Postby performer » March 27th, 2017, 9:11 pm

It isn't a matter of the performer getting bored. It is a matter of his audience doing so particularly if they have seen him 3000 times already. Even so brilliant an artist as Paul Daniels became over exposed on television. And if you keep doing the same crap year after year after year you do not notice that your personality has subtly changed and what used to suit you no longer does. Your timing is affected by these changes in personality and the nuances of your tone and your speech have changed but yet you are doing things the way you always have.

But here is the rather astute analysis by a most brilliant writer on the subject. Alas I forget his name. I shall have to check it out. He called it "Dropping Details". And here it is:

viewtopic.php?t=47070

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Question for full-time performers

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 27th, 2017, 9:26 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:What Brad said.
Each interaction is a new one. Each time you communicate with a spectator that's a new interaction: if you pay attention to the people and their reactions, and interact with them, you won't get bored.


I agree. The people are primarily what it's all about, at least if you are into the performance aspect of magic. I find it continually stimulating to strive to understand people, their perceptions, what motivates and is important to them, how to make them laugh, why they react (or don't react) a certain way to a trick, a move, or a line, and how to use that understanding to entertain them and enhance their enjoyment and experience of the magic. It is essentially applied psychology, and is fascinating. That certainly keeps me from becoming disinterested, bored or stagnant.

Additionally, I do a lot of restaurant bar magic. While it is one of the more (if not the most) challenging venues in magic, I am effectively forced to learn new material all the time, which I find exciting and stimulating. I have certain regulars whom I have been performing for almost every week - for 2-3 years in some cases. I strive never to repeat a trick for them if I can help it. So I am constantly reading, watching videos and learning and creating new tricks. I try to make it fun for people, and to have fun myself I also involve the staff in the magic and the fun (e.g. the spectator sees that his/her signed card is on the BARTENDER'S forehead, or the cocktail server is employed as a confederate). It's challenging and fun, and definitely prevents stagnation...


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