Magic is not theater

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Re: Magic is not theater

Postby MagicbyAlfred » May 11th, 2020, 9:58 pm

"I am getting attacked for my views."
No, it is your views that are getting attacked. Because they are, well, just so attackable. 

"Magic is broken."
What does that mean?
"Magic doesn't work."
Actually, it's extremely popular, and frequently gets major airplay on primetime TV.  And, I have seen, firsthand, that, at least prior to the pandemic, magicians have been in demand to to entertain at special events, and the guests have loved it. If anything, there has been a renaissance of magic in recent times.

"Magic has no artistic respect across the world."
That is simply not true, and cannot be supported. 

"That suggests that there is something wrong with the conventional advice given out to magicians.'
An invalid conclusion drawn from the three false and unsupported premises above.

"So - the more of you that think I am wrong - the more I think I might be right."
The logic of this escapes me.

"As such - I bet I could turn Mike Tyson into a more powerful performer than most of the magicians who have spent their lives studying magic and how to apply dramatic theories to it. In just a single week."
How much do you want to bet?

I think the motivation behind the posting of this thread and comments offered in "support" of its thesis is simply to get a rise out of people --
and it's working.

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Tom Stone
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Re: Magic is not theater

Postby Tom Stone » May 11th, 2020, 10:01 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:I think magicians with a theater background are harming magic with their ill-thought-out theories. The majority of advice I see given to magicians over the past two decades has stressed that magic is a branch of theater.

It is not.

There is only one plot in magic.

A guy (or gal!) doing tricks.

That is the McGuffin at the heart of every performance. Somebody asking if you want to see some tricks?

That is the hook.

Hm... while I completely agree that magic most certainly isn't theater, it is the only thing I agree with.
Magic is its own art. A dramatic art, with some of its circles overlapping the circles of theater. I have friends who work in theater, and the specifics of their work have very few tangents to my own work... but more than none. And some tools from theater can be used in magic.

But all this about there's only one plot? That's nonsense. "I don't want to show you any trick" can be an even stronger 'hook' than "Do you want to see a trick?".
And almost every well constructed trick have some kind of narrative at its core... and when there's a narrative, there are dramatic tools to bring it out, and other tools to create a frame for it.

The main problem, I think, is that many seem to think the narrative must be verbal. Described instead of shown. The amount of exposition is a plague. People talk, talk, talk their material to bits. But that's more about being unfamiliar with the dramatic tools than it is about having the tools.

Magic has no artistic respect across the world.

I don't recognize that. I do recall some older magicians saying that when I was 15, but I've never experienced that myself.
Looking at Spain, France, Germany... I can't find that sentiment there either.

It is false dichotomy when people say the trick has to have meaning otherwise you are simply a guy on stage presenting a puzzle.

No it isn't. But maybe you're misunderstanding for whom it must have meaning? It has to have meaning to you - the performer. If it doesn't have any meaning to you, then why do you perform it? If you're not invested in it, if you don't risk anything, people will sense it.

Does anyone really feel that when they watch The Miser's Dream?

Who cares what people feel when they watch it? That's irrelevant. The important thing is what you feel when you perform it. If you feel that a symbolism and the deisre to be able to produce free money from the air resonates with you, then go for it! If it doesn't resonate, then find a different narrative in the piece that fits you and go with that. And if you can't find any, scrap it. My plot when I've done it have been a lot simpler "Metal disks are exuding out of my fingers" and then a progression of reactions to that; pain, fear, relief, curiosity, exploration, excess... with other people entering to 'milk' coins out of my fingers. Each reaction allows for new technique, designed to cancel out the previous one.

As soon as you get into symbolism, elaborate story-telling, plot and sub-text - a lot of this effort becomes wasted and is unable to be appreciated by an audience.

The audience should not be aware that there are symbolism, plot and subtext. So yes, done right, the audience should be unable to appreciate it. I have a piece I did on P&T Fool Us which is about quantum mechanics - that is what the plot and symbolism is about. But I don't say a word about that to the audience - what use would they have of that info?

Magic is a craft not an art.

It is both. You say "Magic has no artistic respect across the world."... I think it is more accurate to say that it has no artistic respect across your posts.

You are doing a trick. That is why people are watching you. You now have their attention. So what now do you do with it? What else are you going to offer the audience other than amazement?

You're too obsessed with other people and not enough obsessed with your own work. The kind of persona you seem to want, someone who doesn't care about plot, symbolism, subtexts can become interesting if you apply plot, symbolism and subtexts.

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Richard Kaufman
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Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
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Location: Washington DC

Re: Magic is not theater

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 11th, 2020, 10:07 pm

Joe, I'm locking this thread so you don't dig your hole even deeper. Before you post in the future, think about the point for a few days before you actually let it leave your head.
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