Magic with Shadows

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Guest » 03/21/02 08:22 AM

I have a unique opportunity over the next few years to perform magic that involves shadows. I am looking for effects that happen either 1) TO the shadow (feel free to talk about Penn & Teller's Rose, but I would never consider doing it without their permission) or 2)BECAUSE of the shadow.

I am very familiar with "Walking away from a Shadow", and may incorporate it into the act somehow.

I have been told, "Cut a rope, and have the shadow restore, but not the rope". Sounds good, but what exactly would happen? How would you pull it off? How would it be interesting to the audience?

I am asking on this forum, because every reply I have read from you folks is honest, reliable, and useable. And, being magicians, I know your interests include things outside of magic.

Thanks for any input any one of you can provide.


Postby Curtis Kam » 03/21/02 12:12 PM


Sounds like an unique opportunity, indeed. Of course, you've seen Giovanni's effect in the latest (at least at my mailbox) Genii? Very cool. My other faves are:

A very old effect in which a large padlock opens when the shadow of the key is "inserted" in the lock and "turned". This might be Ravelli? I think Richard Hatch (of H&R Books) knows.

Of course, the Shadowbox ("the Lady from the Light")You can do quite a lot with the shadows before you "ruin" it by making the Lady appear. In my routine, the shadow appears, vanishes (box show empty again) reappears holding a rose, which she tosses out to me, (still a "shadow") I make it real, and use it to tease her into life. (Okay, I pull her out of the box, all right?)

Most animation or PK effects can have a shadow theme, consider, for example, the Tippler block (or even "Psychokinetic Touches"--hey, I like that)

Good luck with it, and if you do talk to Dick, say "Hi" for me.
Curtis Kam
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Postby Curtis Kam » 03/21/02 12:15 PM

Oh, one more thing. Isn't there some really odd stuff using the Colors of shadows made by using monochromatic light sources? Martin Gardner, I assume, has published some of this.
Curtis Kam
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Postby sleightly » 03/21/02 01:10 PM

Interesting Curtis!

When I was touring opera houses, we did a similar piece...

The Shadow Box was shown empty, a rose placed within, the light turned on... The shadow of the rose floated up to the center, then the shadow of an arm would reach out and grasp it... Open the box and voila! My wife in a ball gown, holding said rose...

No violent paper-bursting for me.

Ahh... those were the days... Now I do dishes and change the diapers...

(Richard, are you listening?) ;O}

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Postby Guest » 03/22/02 12:44 PM


First let me say that I have some close friends that speak highly of you, and would enjoy meeting you someday.

Regarding the various colored lights, I have read about some of them, including a reference by Edward Victor using colored shadows. Very interesting.

I have heard of the lock-opening effect, but would need to know more specifics (whose routine is it?, do I have permission to perform it?) before I could consider adding it to the shadow routines.

You mention shadow box routines, so I'll quickly tell you what we did with it for 6 years. With a voice over narration, we did the 7 days of creation found in Genesis. "In the beginning, the earth was formless and void" showing the box empty and casually spinning it around in the process. When lights were created, my wife simply sat in the darkened box, and using two squeeze flashlights, squeezing them on and off quickly while moving them around. It really looked like there were 20 or 30 lights in there flashing.

When the plants were created, a shadow of the plant growing was seen, and when the box was opened, there stood a beautiful potted plant (I guess God chose to create that one in a terra cotta pot; another modern miracle).

With the animals, my wife created a slow motion hand shadow of a bird flying, but the shadow faded away as the front of the box was opened (I am deathly allergic to birds, or I would loved to have transformed the shadow into a real bird).

Finally, when people were created, she did a profile shadow of her head, but using her hands to make the hair look "male", she then twisted the shadow to face the opposite direction, and in the process it looked like she "morphed" into a female. When the front was opened, she came out. As the light in the box dimmed, the voice-over simply said, "And on the 7th day, God rested."

It always received a great response from the families that saw it.

As for incorporating it back into the shadow act, I really can't, since I am presenting all of my shows solo now.

Please keep brainstorming ideas for me. It gets my creativity juices stirred, and I know something will be discovered that will be just right for the routine.

Thanks again for your input so far.

Don Bursell

Postby Guest » 03/22/02 03:06 PM


If you don't mind the extra work do a Hand Shadowgraphy Act. (Shadow Magic, Bill Severn, McKay 1959- no magic, but everything on shadowgraphy.) The key, besides the lighting, would be your script. (But a well written script takes a lot of work. And we all know 98% of magicians don't like to work. Read: 98% of magicians don't know anything about a well written script.) If you do a quality Shadowgraphy Act you'll be the ONLY one on the block to do so.

If time doesn't allow that break out that Light Cabinet and shell out a few bucks for a good assistant and do your "7 Days", or any of the other excellent ideas above, and create that beautiful ambiance that only proper lighting and a shadow or two can create. (BTW, do you mind if I USE your "7 Days" presentation? -- great stuff!)

I know this isn't what you're looking for, but if you have a stage why work with the "little" stuff when the "bigger" stuff produces that "great response" you want.

So, keep searching, I feel you're tapping into a very little explored area of magic.

Hope to see your name in ... Shadows!


Postby Guest » 03/22/02 08:58 PM


I actually AM incorporating a full hand shadow act into the shadow portion of the show. And, as anyone that knows me here in Minnesota can attest, I'll spend as much time as it takes to make sure the act is done right. By the way, though I don't want everyone going out to buy them (because you'll also be very inspired to do a hand shadow act) the videos put out by Bazar de Magia in Argentina on hand shadows are the absolute best there is. I'll leave it at that.

Thanks for all of the ideas, and, yes, you may use the "7 days" storyline if you feel led to.


Postby Curtis Kam » 03/22/02 09:40 PM

Thanks for the warm welcome, Don--(who do I know in Minnesota? We Hawaiians don't do cold)But let me know if you're ever out this way.

RE: the lock opening, I really don't know more than what I put in the post. See if Dick remembers.

RE: Hand shadows, there is a very clever performer in Australia who did a killer handshadow bit, I can't recall the name right now, probably because I have blocked out the experience. You see, he did that handshadow bit, and killed. People were tearing up. He took a warm bow, and humbly left the stage.

And then I had to follow him.

You all know the guy, he was on WGM something or other, does a Chaplinesque character doing an innovative billiard routine. (mime table and cue to sound effects)

Anyways, I know handshadow stuff can be good. Sometimes too good. I wish you the best of luck with it.
Curtis Kam
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Postby Guest » 03/23/02 07:34 PM


The billiards guy was Raymond(?) Crowe. Nice billiards routine too. I'd love to see his shadows.

I also heard that Sonny Fontana does some nice shadow work, including foot shadows.

My buddy here in Minnesota, Norm Barnhart, says he's seen you work a few times and enjoys your coin work.


Postby Curtis Kam » 03/25/02 01:03 PM

Don, thank you for those two names from the past.

The Ray Crowe thing would have tormented me in my quiet moments for many weeks to come. Ultimately, I would have had to venture into the attic in search of an old program or something from the show we did together. Odds are, it wouldn't be there.

But the real treat was to hear Norm Barnhart's name again. On behalf of everyone here in Honolulu, let me borrow a greeting from the case of "Cheers": NORM!

Norm was a welcome and essential part of the Hawaii Wonderworker's Workshops Glen Bailey and I put on here. If anyone out there is still crazy enough to want to produce their own magic conventions, know thee this: Norm Barnhart is one of the best investments you can make as a convention producer. He is a wonderfully funny performer, an inventive and sincere lecturer, and he takes advantage of every opportunity to create some fun, and make your convention a better place. Howzit Norm!

Thanks for the names, Don, and now, back to the Shadows....
Curtis Kam
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Location: Waikiki

Postby Jim Morton » 03/26/02 10:16 AM

I received my issue yesterday. Another great issue.
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Postby Guest » 03/26/02 03:52 PM

I do the odd bit of work as a Lighting Technician for my theatre (I'm usually pyro techie) and I can think of ways of making Shadows move on thier own, or for shadows to stay still as you walk away etc. Email me if your interested.

Postby Curtis Kam » 04/26/02 11:00 AM


Well, now that the May Genii has arrived, I know where that "shadow key opens the lock" effect came from--Karl Germain. 'shoulda known.

I'm passing this along, in case it still matters...
Curtis Kam
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Location: Waikiki

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