The story of the Thurston recreation is the highlight for me of the March edition of GENII, which arrived yesterday.
I wish I'd been there to see it.
Two points in particular struck me. One, the presentation of the Sawing with "all the bells and whistles". In other words, a proper presentation. It is a joy to see an illusion properly presented and not run through with blaring music in 2.5 minutes as seems to be the standard today.
Another example of a strong illusion presentation is Denny Haney's trunk routine, as seen on the DVD of his show.
Owners of the ZigZag illuion who rushed through it, ignoring Harbin's presentational touches turned a masterpiece into a mere puzzle.
Some years back in Dublin when I did a lot of theatre shows, I considered a MisMade Girl illusion with the following presentation, inspired by something I read in Bev Bergeron's Willard The Wizard.
Three children are up on stage and whoever wins a competion will win a prize, the prize being my glamorous assistant. It turns out they all win, so the girl is put into the box, divided up and the children each given a section to take home, me being left with a souvenir as a keepsake. The smallest child is prompted to say (or pretend they say), "My mother won't let me keep her." So the sections are reassembled, only the girl is in the wrong order. She is reassembled and steps out with a prize for each of the three winners.
As it happens I never bought the prop, but I think you will agree that it was a better than simply doing the effect without rhyme or reason.
I hope the Thurston article will encourage illusionists to revisit and rethink what they are doing.
The second point that struck was how little Thurston actually spoke. It reminded me of a conversation I had with Val Andrews, a few months before he passed away.
Val was working on a book which was to be the script of the Dante show. Val had seen the show many times so had his own notes, plus much more detailed notes, as well as the script written by another magician who had also seen the Dante show many times both pre and post-war.
Val pointed out that most of the stage illusionists, spoke only about 10% of their stage time, while Dante's was pretty much the opposite. Having read (in the Dante book) the humorous sales pitch for his souvenir program, I was looking forward to Val's eventual publication.
Sadly, Val died three months later. I alerted his executors to look out for the manuscript but it wasn't found.
Thank you Jim Steinmeyer and all your team who recreated a small but fascinating piece of magical history. Inspiring.