Andy Galloway wrote:In the August issue of Genii, Tom Stone said that the original Ramsay Cylinder & Coins routine does not make much sense. There are threads which are started and go nowhere,such as the first feint with the lid. Why use a wand etc.?
I am delighted that you took time to share your thoughts here, and I hope you will write again.
First of all, I think there is a point that seems to be unclear - the article is a theoretical essay about structure.
The handling I described is highly experimental, and should not be interpreted as an "real" alternative handling for Ramsay's "Cylinder and Coins". I put it together only for the purpose of this essay - nothing else.
The main problem with magical theory is that it easily becomes "high brow", esoteric and it's often difficult to understand how the theory could be applied on a practical level.
So after having written three rather "dry" columns, I wanted to illustrate how the ideas in those columns might be applied in a pragmatic fashion, hands-on. But how?
If I used a completely new effect to illustrate with, my points might become diffuse, as there would be no point of reference.
If I used an older effect to illustrate with, there might still be readers who didn't have access to the original description.
So, I decided to see if there were anything suitable in the back issues of Genii - because then "faithful" subscribers would already have access to it, and it wouldn't cost new subscribers a fortune to order that back issue.
...and flipping through the back issues, I quickly found Ramsay's "Cylinder and Coins" in the november 2008 issue. Since I had talked a bit about Ramsay in my May column, it seemed like a good choice to use his piece as an illustration for my theoretical essay.
So, during a week, 10-12 weeks ago, I put together my experimental handling, wrote the essay and illustrated it (the illustrations took a lot of time, about one hour/illustration).
So, if one would view the essay as a "real" alternative handling for Ramsay's routine, I wouldn't protest if it were deemed to be utter crap.
Fortunately, my handling is just an experiment to illustrate theoretical points. And from that perspective I think it is brilliant. (I got the august issue yesterday, and have just read my piece, so I hope I'm allowed this day to feel good about it ;) ).
As someone who had the priviledge of receiving personal instruction from its creator, I will try and explain Mr. Ramsay`s thinking behind some of the moves,bearing in mind that it was devised to puzzle magicians.
When I said that Mr. Ramsay's routine made no sense, I meant when viewed in the context of a story structure (which was the topic of the essay).
If viewed from the context of decieving fellow magicians, then I'm sure that the original routine makes all the sense in the world.
... But there the problem emerges - when the main audience isn't fellow magicians, then it is tempting to remove the parts that are feints for the informed only. And when those parts are removed... well, then there isn't much left but a skeleton with a lot of flaws.
While I've seen variant handlings I greatly admire, I have not found anyone who have deemed it suitable to close an act with. And I believe it have the potential to become a closer.
The feint of apparently loading something under the lid was to provide some misdirection for the first critical move in the routine,that is lifting the cylinder to reveal the stack of coins with piece of cork on top of it, at the same time concealing the fake in the cylinder. While the spectators were wondering what could be under the lid, they could not give there full attention to cylinder.
Unfortunately, that isn't misdirection, that is distraction.
While it probably is effective to accomplish the goal of shielding the first critical move - it has the undesireable side effect that the lid now are a part of the plot, the "story".
And if the lid is a part of the story, then it should be weaved back into the routine again, why else is it introduced? (Besides the internal reason of giving cover for a secret move).
A simple solution would be to let a coin actually appear underneath the lid at some point. Like: "I need my wand to make the coins teleport into the cylinder, because if I don't use the wand, then the coins goes underneath the lid instead."
I am very grateful, Andrew, that you took your time to post your thoughts here, and I hope you are not offended that my thoughts don't share the same paths as yours. If you read my May column, I hope you noticed that I have the highest respect for Mr. Ramsay's intellectual legacy.
I hope this has addressed some of Tom`s reservations about the original trick and despite it`s apparent limitations, it still seems to capture the imagination of several of the top close-up performers in the World.
As a little mind game - let's imagine that Mr. Ramsay stopped aging when he was at his creative peak, and still were alive today. Let's also say that he never created the Cylinder and Coins when he did.
Imagine that he through the years shared thoughts about misdirection with Slydini, took an interest in Juan Tamariz' writings about False Solutions, discussed the art of deception with Tommy Wonder... constantly evolving his own brand of misdirection.
...And imagine that he today, for the first time, happens to pick up a hollow coin stack... turning it around in his hands while thinking "I wonder what I can to with this little thing?"
Do you think that the resulting routine would be identical to the one that he really created back then? What would be different? Nothing? Everything?