Killer reactions

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 11/11/03 10:14 PM

I'm trying to understand one more secret to getting killer reactions from audiences. This involves two performances that I did recently of similar tricks, and why one gets so much better reactions than the other.

Performance #1: Using a brilliant idea discussed here on the Genii forum, I went through a deck of cards and placed one card face-down on a table. I asked the man to name one card, and he said, "Four of spades." He turned it over, and it was, indeed, the four of spades.

The reaction was stunned silence. But no whoops or exclamations of "No way."

Performance #2: Today, while talking to a reporter, I performed Blizzard, which is somewhat different but boils down to the same effect: Magician places a card face-down on the table, spectator names a card at random.

"It's amazing that I got that," the magician says with satisfaction. "Let's take it one step further."

Magician places three more cards face-down on the table, and using magician's force, has spectator choose the named card.

Even that gets a better reaction than the incredible and difficult effect in performance #1. However, there's more.

"That's not the amazing part," the magician says, turning over the other three cards. "I was so convinced that you would choose the nine of hearts that I came out with a deck that contained only the nine of hearts. All of the other cards are blank."

Magician spread the deck face-up, and the cards are, indeed, all blank-faced.

Magicians all find the first effect supremely impressive, while it leaves laypeople speechless and confused.

Laypeople consistently find the second effect over-the-top impressive, and are nearly always vocal in their reaction. Magicians do, too, if they don't know the method; they sometimes know the method, however.

Why is the reaction to trick #2 so much better than trick #1?
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Postby Pete Biro » 11/11/03 10:29 PM

I think no. one is considered a lucky guess and you didn't do anything skillwise to warrant a reaction.

And Blizzard has a sequence of events that are capped with a "no way Jose" ending.

I recently got Bliz and did it for some friends and they were nailed, big time.

Some time ago I did the first one, and it was luck and was the 4 of Clubs, which I was told by a serious gambler is a very common card for someone to name if you tell them to name a not so familiar card like an ace.
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Postby Guest » 11/11/03 11:58 PM

Pete, when you perform Blizzard, do you perform it as a mentalism effect, or a magic trick? In other words, do you say that you knew beforehand that they would pick the card they picked, or do you wave your hand over the deck and say that you have magically turned the rest of the deck blank?

I always prefer a mentalism approach for this trick, but a big name in magic said that he would perform it in the latter manner.
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Postby cataquet » 11/12/03 02:02 PM

Performance #1 - As Pete said, from a spectator's perspective, it could just be a lucky guess. The effect is over very quickly, so the audience can start analysing the effect and quickly conclude that it could have been a lucky guess.
Performance #2 - Is this really the same effect? In the original presentation, a card is named and removed from the deck along with it's mates. In the end, all the cards are blank except for the selection. In #1, an unseen card is placed on the table and it is (hopefully) revealed to be the thought of card.
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Postby Pete Biro » 11/12/03 09:24 PM

Mentalism? Nope... I am not the mysterious type. I just really did it as Dean Dill has written it up and as he personally showed me.

And I do the deck to the pocket switch (second one in the instructions) as I think it is cleaner.
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Postby Steve V » 11/13/03 12:47 AM

Some folks just don't do strong reactions. I, for one, don't no matter how amazing it is. With the exception of hockey I am pretty calm at sporting events. On the other hand someone may react over the the top to some action. Amazement isn't loud.
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Postby Guest » 11/13/03 11:13 AM

I don't know anything about "blizzard" except that it was invented after 1954 and there is a raging one outside my window in this bloody awful fridge of a country.

I do know something about getting people to react though. You have to manipulate them. Perhaps I will write a book about it one day.

One tip though. Sometimes a little word or phrase will do it. Sometimes you can turn a smile into a roar of laughter with the right word or action.

A couple of examples. I used to do coins through the table and get tolerable reaction with it. I was not satisfied though. I like people to froth at the mouth and go down on their knees muttering "salami, salami" when I work. Most of the time I can get this.

However, the damn coins through the table just got "Amazing! How did you do that?"
Pathetic. I felt like a magician at the local magic club.
However, one day I had the brainwave of getting the spectator to press on my hands as the coins went through the table. The difference in reaction was astonishing. They raved and raved because of this silly little change in action.

I said "you pressed too hard!" as I brought up the coins. That was all.

Another time I learned dice stacking. The magic bits in the routine got the most reaction. However, I was irritated that the stacking itself didn't seem to get anybody jumping up and down or any requests to start my own religion.
But one day I altered the patter slightly, Same routine, same stacking sequence, same method. Just 7 extra words in the patter and they started reacting where they never did before.

If David was to experiment with words a little or perhaps a change in action or pace then the required reaction may appear.

With regard to the first trick he mentioned I suspect that the card is tunred over too quickly. Too impossible. A little build up might work before the card is turned over. Perhaps pretending you got it wrong might help. Then show you got it right. A mini-play here.

Emotions and suspence. A bit like a Shakesperean play but a bit shorter. Just 20 seconds.
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Postby Guest » 11/13/03 01:14 PM

That 4 of spades thing of David's has been bothering me.

Perhaps this might work. If it doesn't then don't blame me. I am only thinking out loud.

Ask the spectator the name of his card. Look crestfallen. This is very important. I have no idea how to look crestfallen. Do it with your eyebrows or something. I think it is a very useful skill for a performer to be able to make his face a little animated. Slydini said this so it must be right.

Openly peek at the card without turning it over. Say "the four of spades? Are you sure?"

Pick up the rest of the deck and look through it as if you are trying to figure out what went wrong. Keep your eyebrows looking furrowed or whatever they do when you are worried.

Suddenly brighten and say " I don't have the four of spades here but if I did this is what it would look like!"

Now turn it over. If you get a wondrous reaction you are now beholden forever to [censored].If not, naturally it must be your fault since whatever I say is gospel.

In other words if this approach is successful then I will take the credit. If the approach is unsuccessful then you can take the blame.

Try it anyway. It can't do any harm and it may work. My instinct says it will.

This kind of thing is tricky (no pun intended)to master. In fact it is much more difficult to learn than any new trick.
But much more vital and important.
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Postby Guest » 11/14/03 11:17 AM

Instead of talking about the specifics of the trick involved, let's look at the reactions.

In the first example, there as stunned silence. The audience was rendered completely speechless.

IMHO - this is THE reaction to strive for, when trying to impress the crowd.

The shrieks of NFW and the like are wonderful, too, but they are, IMPO, a step down from the effect of being struck totally speechless by the impact of a magic or mental effect.

The old adage "Silence is Golden" was never more true than when performing a killer effect.

That's why you pace them throughout an act, for dramatic peaks and valleys. An act of nothing but effects that render an audience speechless will also render the audience into a state of glazed over and overloaded senses.

At that point, you are losing them as they are still trying to process the trick you did twenty minutes ago.

My opinion, of course - I could be wrong - it wouldn't be a first! ;)

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
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Postby Guest » 11/14/03 11:51 AM

Interesting.
I find that Out of This World tends to produce a stunned silence rather than screams and gasps.
The true applause comes when they talk about it for months afterwards and sometimes even years later.
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Postby Guest » 11/14/03 12:02 PM

I sensed when I wrote this post that the difference between the two tricks was routining. The first one had virtually no plot while the second one played with the audience's emotions more. Rising action, building expectations, suspense, suspense, garden path, bam! grand finale! It shows the immense value of routining. Those are my thoughts.

In the case of Blizzard, you lead the spectator down the garden path, and then show that path to be completely bogus. That revelation, that their whole set of assumptions about what the trick was all about was false, makes them see the whole trick in an entirely different light. They thought it was about magician's choice, which was amazing enough. But then it became about something much larger.

The trick becomes an experience they've gone through rather than just "Find my card."

However, when performing for magicians, who are much more savvy about routining and what evil can be done therefrom, a stripped-down routine is what kills.

When I was performing trick number one, it was in a magic shop and a fellow magician was watching. When the lay audience reacted with stunned silence, the magician just exploded with response. He knew how amazing my effect was. No switches, no outs, I just nailed it.
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Postby Guest » 11/14/03 12:17 PM

Magicians react in a different way to laymen. It is a very dangerous mix because you can plot your routines in the wrong way if you continually work for magicians.
Things get too complicated and too much sleight of hand is used.
Stick to laymen.
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Postby magicbar » 11/28/03 09:43 AM

You may find it beneficial to learn more about theater and stagecraft. The Fitzkee Trilogy covers it well as does the Joanie Spina vid/DVD release. Also a short discertation is in the Vernon Chronicles #1 "On the Turn of the Card."

You can ask yourself if the audience was watching you do a trick or were they watching you perform magic?

You can also chalk it up to the never-ending work on matching the right performance style with the right effect for the right audience.

Hey, Many of the entertainment greats were once boo-ed off stage.
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Postby Guest » 11/28/03 01:12 PM

Originally posted by Steve Jaffe:
You may find it beneficial to learn more about theater and stagecraft. The Fitzkee Trilogy covers it well as does the Joanie Spina vid/DVD release. Also a short discertation is in the Vernon Chronicles #1 "On the Turn of the Card."
OK, this is sacreligeous, I know, but...

While I agree that it is beneficial to study theater and stagecraft, I would disagree with your references. Fitzkee had no professional training as an actor, and never studied stagecraft as a trade. He wrote what he thought might work, and because there wasn't anything else out there, and it sounded good, he has become "an authority". But no one questions his credentials, or even looks at his results. He tried to apply his theories to his own work, and failed horribly, and with consistency, in his attempts to bring any kind of theatricality to magic. Vernon is known to have "winged" most performances. He had little real knowledge of acting or theater, and suffered stagefright, didn't really like performing. I don't know Joanie Spina, so I can't comment on that reference...

The point here is not to tear up Fitzkee or Vernon, but to point people in the right direction, if they are looking for help in the areas you suggested. Fitzkee and Vernon are worth studying for many reasons, but theater and stagecraft are not among them.

Try some of the acknowledged classics in the theater. Look to Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, find some material on writing, there are books about developing plots, there are whole courses for comedians, these are the sources you should turn to if you are interested in acting, theater, stagecraft. You will see the ways these techniques can be applied to magic once you see the techniques!

If an actor wants to learn magic he doesn't call an acting coach, he calls Ricky Jay. And I'm not sure, but I don't believe that Harry Anderson, having landed a starring role in "Night Court" with little acting experience, called Mark Wilson, or Siegfried and Roy, to ask for acting lessons. I think he hired an acting coach! That should tell you something...

Best, PSC
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Postby Dave Shepherd » 11/28/03 04:32 PM

I have recently moved Boleslavsky's Acting: The First Six Lessons to my magic shelf. It resides between J.B. Bobo and Derren Brown.

It's not that it's such a great book (written by a disciple of Stanislavsky to try to instill some of the master's ideas in a movie-actor readership), but more to remind me of something: the lessons I learned as a student actor three decades ago are more important to me as a magician than the myriad sleights and techniques I've learned by studying Magic.
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Postby Guest » 11/28/03 07:51 PM

I am highly sceptical about acting and theatre techniques applied to magic.
I can always tell a magician that has taken training in drama. They are always overloud and artificial.
They think they are presenting a play. They ignore the fact that magic is people and how you relate to them.
People relate to sincerity not "acting"

A magician has to be a good actor of course. But not a theatrical actor. There is a difference.
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Postby Dave Shepherd » 11/29/03 08:17 AM

Point taken, but maybe you've just seen bad actors.

When a performance is overloud and artificial, it means that it is a bad performance, whether the performer has had acting training or not.

Acting training teaches a performer to react naturally and sincerely to changes, to avoid anticipation of crucial moments, to concentrate on a single point of focus, and many other things that lead to a richer and more authentic performance of magic.
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Postby Guest » 11/29/03 07:47 PM

I am not closed minded about it. I am merely sceptical.

I can see how certain selected theatrical techniques could possibly help a stage magician.

Still, I am highly dubious. These actor types expand. And expand. And expand. They think they are playing Hamlet instead of doing the professor's nightmare. And nightmare it is I assure you.

I have always said that you can overpresent as well as underpresent. Most magicians underpresent and that is why they are bloody awful. However, exaggerated gestures and long winded preeming are just as bad.

I once foolishly went to a magic marketing conference and there was some acting coach there whose purpose was to improve the attendees. I thought he could do with some improving himself. His profanity was quite disgusting and as a psychic reverend I was most offended.
However, I was suspicious of his teaching especially when he was the MC of the show. LOUD!
Oh, and amateurish too.
I would rather have seen a run out worker MC the show.
That is where you see real showmanship. The only drama classes they have attended is when they put on plays in jail for recreation.

I wonder how many great magicians such as Thurston, Houdini, Blackstone, Dunninger, Kellar, Rosini and any of the rest of them have taken drama classes. I have no idea but I suspect it comes to the grand total of zilch.

I am not saying it is a bad idea. I am just saying I need convincing.

Incidentally, I have just read that Paul Daniels is contemplating an acting career. He has had no acting training.

This might prove to be useful if he wants to be an actor, I imagine.
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Postby magicbar » 11/29/03 10:07 PM

ok, then how about enhancing 'the sell' of the effect. I am sure details were left out of each situation in the beginning thread. I know I have sone very simple effects that have hit harder than more elaborate ones. But as one develops a routine they have to look for opportunities to sell convincing aspects of the illusion. Henning Nelms' book comes to mind. Yes, I heard Fitzkee bombed too and similar comments on Vernon but they do offer landmarks along the way to creating stronger magic.

Do the same effects repeatedly. If you get the same responses you may rest it upon your effort. If not, maybe you just got lucky with the first guy.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 11/30/03 02:15 AM

The best magicians are always the ones who are the best actors. Fred Kaps was a great actor. Steve Valentine -- best show in the Castle's close-up room I've ever seen -- recently left magic to focus on his acting career.

However the type of acting skills required has changed. When everyone was on stage in live performances, you had to be a stage actor. Nowadays with TV, even a stage performer has to act at point blank range.

There are differences between acting on stage and close up. But there are many, many more similarities.

If you perform close-up, don't forget improv training. It's the most important part of acting training for the interactive performer. Improv training is also much more fun than traditional acting training.
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Postby Guest » 11/30/03 04:37 PM

I bet you Fred Kaps never took acting "training"

As for that awful Henning Nelms book I have always hated it. I took it very seriously at one time and I wasted 6 months of my life trying to follow the philosophy therein. I got nowhere with it.

I got a mite suspicious when the late Harry Stanley saw me with a copy of it. I assume Harry is dead now. If he is alive he would be 102 years old now. Harry asked to borrow the book saying it was about time someone wrote about this subject.

However when he returned it to me he was lukewarm about it and dismissed it as "padding". I subsequently discovered that Helms had never done a magic show in his life. I prefer my instructors to have experience in their subject so I threw the book in the fire. I shudder now any time I see it and try to control myself from having convulsions.

Be an actor certainly but do not study it. Just do it. If you study it you will end up writing books about things you nothing about.

The best act of all.
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Postby Michael Kamen » 11/30/03 06:04 PM

This is a thought-provoking conversation. A distinction that might be useful is between showmanship and acting ability. They are not necessarily the same. I agree with those who think that elements of actor training may be useful in magic, but only because they are useful in life. Many of those exercises help one to know oneself better, and this might make you a better inter-actor with your spectators (or not). I disagree with the assumption that "a magician is an actor playing the part of a magician" (with all respect to its esteemed author). It seems a bit like saying "Jack Nicholaus is an actor playing the part of a golfer," or something along those lines. Ever since the great Robert Houdin (please correct me) made the comment (which probably made sense to him at the time) it seems to have become an article of dogma. I would suggest that an excellent showman is not necessarily an excellent actor and vice versa. Perhaps more important for a magician to be the former.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/30/03 06:14 PM

Originally posted by Psychic:
... They think they are playing Hamlet instead of ...
In both Hamlet and Mindsummer's Night Dream are gems about performing. The advice about getting the lines out and not sawing the air seems useful.

Is it nobler in the mind to use two in-faro shuffles or should we brave outragous laymen and by crimping a card ... :D

Ham acting complete with scenery chewing might also be funny.
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Anthony Brahams » 12/01/03 01:57 AM

FYI, Psychic, Harry Stanley died at least 20 years ago, I think. My uncertainty is the date, not the fact!
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Postby Guest » 12/01/03 08:46 AM

Actually, all of the "names" Psychic mentions DID take acting lessons and several of them were also smart enough to take diction lessons as well.

While they may not have studied acting in a formal sense, they did use coaches to improve their performances from a theatrical side, learning from other performers along the way as well as from managers and coaches.

Psychic also seems to think that acting is solely melodramatic gestures and the like. Such is absolutely NOT the case in modern acting, nor, IMHO, should it be.

If we look at the great actors of our age, including ones who have done magic on screen (or had someone else's hands do it for them), we find George C. Scott, Paul Newmann, Cary Grant and Hal Holbrook to name a few. These guys are ACTORS in the truest sense of the word. They become the character they are playing for us as we watch them.

How many of us can say we can even remotely approach approach their level? Can "sell" a character or effect to an audience the way they could or can?

Respectfully,

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Postby magicbar » 12/01/03 09:56 PM

moe recent magic works that touch on this are Ammar Making Magic Memorable on audio and in his big green book also Ortiz' Strong Magic.

If you want to meditate on the subject read the intro in Carneycopia.
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Postby Guest » 12/01/03 10:32 PM

I have read several biographies of the people mentioned and have seen no reference to acting lessons.
Accordingly in my capacity as a psychic medium I have communicated with the people concerned. None of them seem to recall anything of the sort.
Houdini and a couple of others did say something about taking the odd tip or two from various people but nothing whatever about formal training. Houdini did try to get his diction correct but that was hardly going to drama school.

As for Paul Newman and others allegedly doing doing tricks in movies I don't think that counts.
For a number of reasons. First I didn't see them and am highly dubious of the matter. I don't see how getting someone else's hands to do a trick (actually only a false shuffle if you are referring to Paul Newman) qualifies someone as a magician. Or acting as a fictional character in a movie. The second reason I am dubious is that I have seen many, many celebrities such as comedians, pop stars and others starring in movies. They haven't taken drama courses either but they seem to do just as well as the established actors.

I have not seen Paul Newman or Cary Grant or the rest of them doing magic in person. I am quite sure they would be just as dreadful as everybody else.

I have seen Orson Welles perform magic on many occasions though.

Bloody awful. What a bore.
I bet he took acting lessons.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 12/02/03 12:05 AM

Michael Kamen:
It seems a bit like saying "Jack Nicholaus is an actor playing the part of a golfer," or something along those lines.
Jack Nicklaus (who I assume you're refering to) is not an actor playing the part of a golfer. He is actually golfing.

If you are presenting "magic" in the sense of supernatural forces on display, and if you cannot actually command such forces, you are an actor playing the part of someone who can.

This is what Robert-Houdin said. It's not dogma, it's just a simple statement of truth. Unless you can really make the coin disappear, you're an actor playing someone who can.

What it means is that the techniques used by the magician to play his part are the same techniques used by actors to play theirs. It means that if you want to be a better magician, you need to work on these things.


By the way there is an entire class of magic to which this doesn't really apply. Some magicians don't really do "magic" but are more sleight-of-hand experts. In other words, the audience knows the tricks are performed with sleight-of-hand, but they are still amazed at the level of dexterity displayed. When Martin A. Nash, performs as "The Charming Cheat", sleight-of-hand is an essential part of the character.

Of course you will still have recourse to many of the tools of the actor. Or perhaps we should talk about the tools of the performer. I think even those who disagree that magicians are actors will agree that they are performers.

I am not qualified to discuss the teaching of acting techniques, but I practice several of them and they are largely responsible for any progress I make as a magician. I have worked on:

Vocal Production
Projection
Sense Memory
Movement

One of my best friends (and erstwhile roommate) is a broadway actor and vocal coach, and I've worked with him a lot on my voice. Plus he brought everything he learned at acting school home. It's fantastically useful.

Acting/performing techniques are the basis of
magic. I guess it's not surprising. Magic is a performing art, after all.


By the way when you first begin studying acting techniques, your performance will improve dramatically in some areas and get noticably worse in others. This often leads to the effect [censored] has noted.

The good news is that if you keep working on it, this problem will go away, to be replaced with new, wonderful problems that you would never get to face otherwise.
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Postby Michael Kamen » 12/02/03 03:05 AM

Originally posted by Pete McCabe:
Jack Nicklaus (who I assume you're refering to) is not an actor playing the part of a golfer. He is actually golfing. . .

. . .If you are presenting "magic" in the sense of supernatural forces on display, and if you cannot actually command such forces, you are an actor playing the part of someone who can.
Pete,

You make a number of excellent points about the value of both performance and acting skills, and I also appreciate your depth in acknowledging the sleight of hand artist who is not trying to convince others of supernatural powers. But I want to offer an alternative view to the one quoted above

Rather than describing a magician as "an actor playing the part of. . ." I like the following: A magician is a story teller whose brief stories (usually or often) involve "magical" happenings and are (always) illustrated with magical effects; he may or may not place himself as a character within one or another story during the telling.

The actor, in contrast, always plays a specific character within a story and soley has responsibility for the bringing to life of that character with full integrity in context. . .

The magician, again in contrast to the actor, frames and tells the whole story. To do so authentically and effectively requires great creativity and showmanship, but craft in large part different from that of the actor in my opinion.

A magician may of course act the part of a "magician" in a theatrical production, but that seems a specialized application rather than the performance of magic per se. Theater training is clearly relevant to any kind of performance art. No question that acting technique may even be of some value in telling a story effectively -- just not the sine qua non for magical performance as suggested by Houdin's definition.

Regards,
Michael
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Postby Guest » 12/02/03 01:41 PM

Rather than describing a magician as "an actor playing the part of. . ." I like the following: A magician is a story teller whose brief stories (usually or often) involve "magical" happenings and are (always) illustrated with magical effects; he may or may not place himself as a character within one or another story during the telling.

The actor, in contrast, always plays a specific character within a story and solely has responsibility for the bringing to life of that character with full integrity in context. .
Michael, I know you want to present an alternate view from Pete's, but your example is unconvincing. Using your criteria, there is no distinction between a one-person show, such as those offered by John Leguizamo or Hal Holbrook, and a formal magical performance.

I'm with Pete that perhaps the best Castle Close-up show I've seen was performed by an actor (the sorely missed Steve Valentine). His acting skills undoubtably helped his performance, but he offered the complete package; great tricks, engaging plots, good technique, humor, etc., etc.

Every great magical performer I've seen inhabits a character, and often that character seems little removed from someone we could meet in real life, someone who does not appear to be acting. The world created by the performer could be no other way.

And that is the crux of successful performance, combining good technique, proper preparation, and intelligent presentation; making it seem natural and unrehearsed. These are the hallmarks of the best magicians and actors, and you may wish to avoid calling it acting, but we've all seen enough bad examples to know it doesn't happen by accident.

Actor, performer, call it what you wish, but the work needs to be done, and I believe magicians need a good acting skill set.

--Randy Campbell
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Postby Michael Kamen » 12/02/03 03:56 PM

Originally posted by Randy Campbell:
. . .Using your criteria, there is no distinction between a one-person show, such as those offered by John Leguizamo or Hal Holbrook, and a formal magical performance. . .
True, but I do not think such a distinction should be necessary. I would love to consider your comment with direct reference to the performers you mentioned, John Leguizamo and Hal Holbrook. Can you give me a hint as to where (or how) I might see their work?

Originally posted by Randy Campbell: . . .Every great magical performer I've seen inhabits a character, and often that character seems little removed from someone we could meet in real life, someone who does not appear to be acting. The world created by the performer could be no other way. . .
Great insight Randy, and we agree on the fundamentals I think.

In spite of my close personal identification with magic I must admit that I have not seen a broad sample of performing magicians. But the best I have seen, and some of whom I knew personally, inhabited and brought themselves forth rather than some other character. Perhaps I may come around to your view as this sample expands.

I would welcome recommendations on who to see, along with where or how to see them.
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Postby Guest » 12/03/03 12:37 PM

Hi Michael:

Leguizano has had a couple one-man off Broadway shows over the last few years, broadcast by HBO. And Holbrook has been performing "Mark Twain Tonight!" for 48 years, barnstorming the USA about 25 weeks a year for over 2,000 shows.

I made my reference to these actors only to illustrate that, apart from the magic, the one-person show is the same as a magical performance, leading back to the idea that anything which benefits the actor should equally reward the magical performer.

As to your statement: "But the best I have seen, and some of whom I knew personally, inhabited and brought themselves forth rather than some other character," it seems impossible that a performer's onstage and offstage personae could be the same, almost by definition. Physicists will kill me, of course, but I derive my believe from my amateur's understanding of the work of Heisenberg.

--Randy Campbell
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Postby Michael Kamen » 12/03/03 04:49 PM

Randy,

You are driving me crazy, but in a good way. I would like to hear more about your connection between Heisenberg's work and the assumption (which might prove to be correct) of the inevitable variance between a performer's personal and performance personae. I promise I will not tell any physicists. If you are willing to share your thoughts.

Michael
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Postby Guest » 12/04/03 06:55 AM

I do know something about getting people to react though. You have to manipulate them. Perhaps I will write a book about it one day.

One tip though. Sometimes a little word or phrase will do it. Sometimes you can turn a smile into a roar of laughter with the right word or action.
Reverend:
I appreciate the tip. How about giving us a full sermon?
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Postby Guest » 12/04/03 10:52 AM

Magic has storytellers and it has actors, and some magicians who dabble in both. I don't think it's necessary to say that magic is either one or the other.

Personally, I avoid stories because today's audiences have such a short attention span. The only people who have attention spans are book readers, it seems, those who choose to spend an extended time with a book. Those who happen to be in my audience are often there by accident.

Storytelling has its benefits, but it also puts the audience at a bit of a distance. Acting puts them closer to the action, because the things are happening to them, and then later, they can act as the storyteller.

That's why I dislike Six-Card Repeat (except Senator Crandall's version) and love silent manipulation.

Ricky Jay is the rare exception to the rule. He tells lots of stories and audiences listen intently. However, these audiences choose to attend his shows. They attend knowing that close attention will be demanded of them. Originally, many of Jay's fans were lured into the theatre because of David Mamet's sponsorship of the show, and Mamet fans are people who are self-selected to have long attention spans.

When I'm watching Dimmare's show, I'm simply experiencing it. Same with Steve Valentine's and Bodine Belasco's shows. That's the way I prefer it.
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Postby magicbar » 12/04/03 11:49 AM

then there is all the stuff Eugene Burger has written on the subject...
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Postby Guest » 12/04/03 11:58 AM

David:

I'm glad you brought up Mamet.
He's written a few books on acting and theater. Mamet has achieved success in these areas, and he has directed the best magic show I've ever seen.

Happy reading.
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Postby Guest » 12/04/03 12:19 PM

Michael:

I'll blushingly continue:

I merely posit that a performing persona is just that, a way of presentation which exists only with an audience, whether the stage be formal, tableside, one-on-one, or whatever. It may be similar to the performer's personality, but never one and the same.

The Heisenberg part comes from the generalized layperson understanding that anything observed is changed, although his principle dealt with momentum and position and the inability of predicting where a particle is with 100% certainty. It is my understanding that physicists hate it when their science is used to describe human behavior, and to these greater minds I offer apologies in advance.

Anyway, discussion of these specifics doesn't represent my wholistic take on great performance; you need all the tools -- you should be able to drive the ball, master the short game, and putt for dough -- for successful magical performance. And it doesn't matter where you acquire the skills, in school or the school of hard knocks, as long as you have them. This is probably self-evident, but I wanted it added to this thread.

--Randy Campbell
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Postby Michael Kamen » 12/04/03 04:02 PM

Originally posted by Randy Campbell:
. . .I merely posit that a performing persona is just that, a way of presentation which exists only with an audience, whether the stage be formal, tableside, one-on-one, or whatever. It may be similar to the performer's personality, but never one and the same.
. . .
Hi Randy,

Thanks for clearing that up :) -- I for one agree with you (and Mr. Heisenberg) completely. I think I am inclined to take your Heisenberg analogy a step further though and suggest it applies not only to "performance" but to every interpersonal interaction.

Regards,
Michael
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Postby Guest » 12/04/03 04:38 PM

Rafael.
I did. I did.
And no doubt there will be many more. You are very priviliged to have me.

[censored]
www.marklewisentertainment.com
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