I made my first visit to the Magic Castle in February of 2000, and eleven years later - on the lucky date of 3/7/11 - I made my showroom debut in the Parlour of Prestidigitation. I did twenty shows in the course of my week - two on Monday, and three on the subsequent nights.
In terms of the stated goal of the Academy of Magical Arts to advance the art of magic, there is honestly nothing better they could do for magic, or for magicians, than to provide this most excellent opportunity to perform a magic show over and over and over again. We all know that there's a huge difference between speaking your script into thin air in your living room, and speaking it to living, breathing, receiving minds and hearts - and there's no way to guess where those differences actually lie. You have to get out there and find out for yourself. Having the chance to do twenty shows in seven days allows plenty of opportunity to explore this, to "find the moments" and to adjust accordingly.
For my show, there were material adjustments all the way through the first eight shows - in other words, every show through Wednesday night featured some type of script or technical change. This was nothing major - I did the same five effects with the same basic script all week - but I learned something practical from all eight of those early-week shows. Some of my adjustments were inspired by the suggestions of other magicians (another thing I love about the Magic Castle), and some were based on the response and feedback I was getting from the audience.
One change that I implemented after the first night was that I ended my show by walking to the exit door, opening it myself, and standing there thanking every single person who was in my audience. This had a wonderful "full circle" element to it for me, as the Lane Mansion (now the Magic Castle) was built in 1909 - two years before the movies got to Hollywood, back in the days when ALL entertainment was live. This is the very town where we lost live entertainment, where entertainment slipped away from the personal and turned into something else entirely, and I can tell you that it felt SO GOOD to stand in this pre-movies Hollywood mansion, personally interacting with every member of my audience. Over time I've come to understand magic as - dare I say it? - a purely LIVE art form, and again, I can hardly express my gratitude to the Magic Castle for providing such a beautiful, elegant, mysterious, historical setting where magic can still live and thrive. I believe that the Magic Castle is the very best and richest thing that magic has, and I am so, so glad that I got my chance to be a part of it.