My Magic Castle Debut

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Postby Lisa Cousins » 03/29/11 06:19 PM

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.
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Postby Ian Kendall » 03/29/11 06:59 PM

W00t! I wish I could have seen the show :)


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.


I've done this for a few years now, and it does give you a warm pink fluffy feeling. Plus, you get more hugs this way...

Take care, Ian
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Postby Stan Willis » 03/30/11 08:42 AM

Lisa,

I really enjoyed reading your post and by the way congratulations are in order on your well deserved performance at the Magic Castle. It brings back memories as to how the art of magic was conducted in the past instead of downloading tricks in the morning and rushing out to bore the hell out of someone in the afternoon.
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Postby Gordon Meyer » 03/30/11 11:28 AM

A charming touch, Lisa. I'm sorry I missed your show, but hearty congratulations.
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Postby JohnCox » 03/30/11 11:36 AM

I had the great pleasure of seeing Lisa's act and it was wonderful. Very elegant. It really worked beautifully in the Parlour setting. Just perfect. :)
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 03/30/11 11:54 AM

"Charming" is the perfect word for Lisa's show. I had a wonderful time. And Lisa, for what it's worth, I overheard several lay people well after--not just outside the showroom--talking up your act.

Congratulations!
Dustin
(Remebers Lisa's 2000 visit to the Castle well--sparkly dress and all! ;) )
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Postby Lisa Cousins » 03/30/11 08:35 PM

My show did seem to work well for both magicians and laypeople. On the magicianly side of things - and I'm speaking as one who's taken in "the view from the seats" at the Magic Castle hundreds of times - I know how refreshing it is to see anything at all that's different, and I knew for sure (remember: hundreds of times) that I was presenting something different. As far as the laypeople, my love of magic and of the Magic Castle definitely gushed all over the place throughout my show, and I imagine that most of them couldn't leave without joining.

The most controversial prop I presented (controversial on the home-front, I mean) was my closer, Abbott's "Silken Lady." Bill Goodwin hates this prop, on the grounds that "It's not a fooler!" To him, if anybody in the audience has any idea whatsoever of how a trick MIGHT have been accomplished, it is NOT MAGIC. I contend that, while Abbott's "Silken Lady" is not a fooler, it is a SURPRISE, and surprise is valid magic also. That was the nature of argument. Knowing of his dislike for the prop, I didn't admit to him that I had decided to present it, and I additionally barred him from seeing the show until the very last night. But people kept wandering down to the library after seeing my show and giving him spoilers, so by mid-week my secret was out.

I decided on Abbott's "Silken Lady" for my closer because I'm quite demanding on my audience, and I wanted something extremely sweet and gentle and relaxing for my last note. And although few (or perhaps none) were fooled, many were certainly surprised.
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Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 03/31/11 07:57 AM

congratulations Lisa !
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Postby Lisa Cousins » 03/31/11 03:48 PM

Immediately prior to the "Silken Lady" I did a seance-style effect where we attempted to receive a message "from the other side" for a member of the audience.

For this one, I wrote out all of my messages months ago, bundled them up and set them aside and never looked at them again. This made every show different for me, and rendered my curiosity about the message, and my pleased response to it, quite genuine.

My one regret is that I had mixed in a few messages that were on the light-hearted side ("He who hesitates ... is sometimes saved," and "You live and learn. At any rate, you live.") These did not work nearly as well as the beautiful sentiments, and I'm glad that the majority of my selections were along those lines.

On the other hand, I did decide on the light-hearted approach to getting into the seance. I recognized that I had the option of playing it with utter seriousness and taking it very deep, but careful reflection upon the setting and circumstances made me choose the playful route. This was one of those areas that received testing in the early days of the week, and the final form of the segue line was "We're going to be using a classic crystal ball for this. I understand that in this age of the iPad, modern mediums are using the new iBall - and they're getting great connections - but we're going to do it the old-fashioned way. We're going to work for it!"

Making a joke going into the seance, and then having the message itself be a joke, proved to be too much joke. The beautiful sentiment was the way to go.
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Postby Gordon Meyer » 03/31/11 04:57 PM

Nice, Lisa, I really appreciate your strategy for keeping the revealed message fresh and surprising, even for you.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 03/31/11 05:21 PM

Lisa,

Regarding the Silken Lady: For what its worth, a guy in the front row leaned over to his wife and whispered, How the hell is she doing that? as you were vanishing the scarves. Not, How does that box work? it was How is she doing that.

Our mutual friend who you might recall was with me that night commented to me afterward that he wished that there had been an image of the lady beforeversus a blank whatever it iswearing undergarments of the period. Butagain, for what its worthwith him being a fulltime professional entertainer, he felt that the piece as presented was very good.

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Postby Russell Davis » 04/05/11 10:31 PM

What a great inside view of the the Castle. Really really reminds you of what you love about magic and its complexity and really really makes you want to perform there.
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