Ive read through this thread and looked at other ones related to performance, knowledge, and access(*). Thank you to those who expressed their thoughts. Perhaps other threads contain similar thoughts which are more recent than these (from over three years ago). Id be very grateful if anyone could point me to them.
I still have a few questions, and they pertain to the development of Magic Appreciation. In any other art, Id say that I was seeking greater exposure to magic, but I might risk the wrath of hasty readers here!
So, Magic Appreciation.
Im returning to magic after a ten year break. As a teenager, I read books from the library, received several as gifts and watched any performance I could, whether in person or on television. DVDs werent around yet, and videotapes were over my budget. I even had the honor to participate on the MAGIC! BBS, reading the words and risking the patience of my elders (Mr. Crabb, Mr. Biro, Mr. Kucera, Mr. Maven, among othersthank you) and exposer, subjecting my familys fortunes to long-distance telephone charges (Mom, no. I wasnt signed on all that time. I dont care what the billing statement says. I *couldnt* have been on that long!)
As I come back to the Art, Im having great fun and learning a lot from my old books. More seems possible to actually perform, descriptions of sleights make better sense now, and ideas for routines and presentation seem more plentiful.
I live in a much smaller town than I did when I was a teenager. There are far fewer opportunities to see magic in person and I cant afford cable tv (which, according to the schedules, appears to run many of the same Worlds Best programs). I read the magazines I can afford and borrow from the librarys small magic collection, yet the spark of personal give-and-take within actual performance isnt there.
While I certainly appreciate essays on the great conjurors, past and present, I feel a great sadness that while many, many names are familiar to me, Ive only had the privilege to see a few of them perform.
This is a very delicate statementbut Ill try to be accurate: I would very much like to understand these performers contributions, share in the debt clearly owed to them, and feel gratitude--but...I cant. Or, when I try, it rings hollow. I may recognize them as inventors, historians or promoters of magic--but seldom can I understand what they have given to the world as performers. Ive never crossed paths with them, even indirectly, so how do I learn from them? Its like hearing a parent describe a favorite aunt youve never met. You may want to meet them and look up to them, but unless a meeting can be arranged, all you have is the aunts name, repeated over and over.
Its hard to comprehend ones heritage without some kind of engagement or observation. Similarly, I feel like Im working and learning in a vacuum, and I wonder if Im alone in feeling this way.
The other arts, it seems, somehow provide more examples of their performers. In the dramatic arts, there are recordings at the library from PBS and others which capture the performances of actors. Even this tiny region has an amateur theater group for live theater. I cant imagine that students of music, after learning some of the basics, dont turn to their local classical stations or record stores to hear specific interpretations of the great composers works. How would they react if they could only read in magazines that Yo-Yo Ma just kills with his handling of Bartok? Even the bar down the street has rock n roll. Is it good? Well...they sure give it a good try, and theyre on stage every Friday. Museums offer historical examples of woodworking and the metal crafts.
My main question, finally: in the last three years since this topic was started, has magic made any progress catching up with other artistic endeavors, in the effort to capture performance for the sake of study? If so, how are they obtained? If not, who has the capital and know-how to produce them?
I have a few videotapes of performances from TV(very few Im afraid, and you probably already have them) of which Id be glad to make copies and trade for other TV performancesits at least something I could offer.
Please note--Im looking for performances, not secrets or even technique. I dont want to deprive anyone of profit, so if youre aware of performance tapes for sale, Id be glad to hear of those, too. If I have to save up $50 to purchase a recording, I will, if thats my only route. Mr. Stinett, Mr. Duncanboth of you were numbers 6 and 7 on the virtual waiting list for these tapes. Would you please put me down as number 8?
Id love to see how one magician deals with silks (does he incorporate them into his costume, does he call them silks?) or how another one shifts from cards to coins (is a bridge provided through story, is he simply pulling items from his pockets in an impromptu style of performance?).
I hope, within the Art, that the insight one can gain from performance outweighs the urge to keep original presentations hidden. I dont want to be a copycat (which is a bad enough epithet that I always wondered why that didnt stop the imitators). Instead, Id like to learn more about what our master craftsmen (and women) have done with the tools and fasteners that we have at our disposal.
Ive gone on far too long. Ive read many of your postings and hope you might have some ideas. You're welcome to write to me off-list, via email, but I encourage you to post here, for others who are developing their skills, knowledge and appreciation will benefit, too.
Thank you for reading, and for your time.
(*) Of the Thread That Unfortunately Frayed