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Socrates

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In this world of magic there are so many tricks available to us, and we spend a great deal of our time and money investing in tricks, books, DVDs and downloads. But without volunteers and an interactive audience there is little magic - in some respects the magic industry encourages us to consider the tricks, our character and our scripts, but how often are we giving any consideration to those watching our shows.

Chan Canasta is one of my influences and the following quote is one which definitely struck a chord with me:

“Canasta had discovered that the most interesting thing on the stage was the people themselves, not the tricks he performed. And what those people did and what they said mattered just as much as what he did. Canasta’s shows involved a genuine two-way interaction between performer and spectator.” - David Britland

The people we interact with are vastly important in our lives, and that means everyone in every area of our lives, but especially so in the art of magic. Yesterday I was listening to an interview with Avner the Eccentric and his thoughts and philosophies were most inspiring... on volunteers he says "Their enjoyment is your employment"

All of his principles on volunteers are well worth considering... you can find his guidelines here:

https://avnertheeccentric.com/volunteers.php
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Andrew

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Reply with quote  #2 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
In this world of magic there are so many tricks available to us, and we spend a great deal of our time and money investing in tricks, books, DVDs and downloads. But without volunteers and an interactive audience there is little magic - in some respects the magic industry encourages us to consider the tricks, our character and our scripts, but how often are we giving any consideration to those watching our shows.

Chan Canasta is one of my influences and the following quote is one which definitely struck a chord with me:

“Canasta had discovered that the most interesting thing on the stage was the people themselves, not the tricks he performed. And what those people did and what they said mattered just as much as what he did. Canasta’s shows involved a genuine two-way interaction between performer and spectator.” - David Britland

The people we interact with are vastly important in our lives, and that means everyone in every area of our lives, but especially so in the art of magic. Yesterday I was listening to an interview with Avner the Eccentric and his thoughts and philosophies were most inspiring... on volunteers he says "Their enjoyment is your employment"

All of his principles on volunteers are well worth considering... you can find his guidelines here:

https://avnertheeccentric.com/volunteers.php



Hi, Socrates.

Thank you for posting your thoughts on this and the two lovely quotes. I couldn't agree more: There is no magic without our audience and volunteers. If they do not exist, then it's just a person sitting around practicing moves. It is this realisation that has pushed me to try and perform more this year, and I have been making a concerted effort to do so at work.

How we interact with people outside of a magical performance is also very important. In fact, everything we do outside of magic informs our performances, I think. We should take a genuine interest in others, their lives, stories and experiences - and we should do this even if we do not plan on showing them magic. This way, we are interacting with people on a human level on a daily basis, and when it comes time to perform our magic we will find it much easier to connect and build rapport. Then, I feel, our performance will go some way to becoming less about someone performing some tricks and more about a shared interaction between a group of interesting people.

It's easy, through nerves and inexperience, to bluster through tricks and forget about our audience - I can be guilty of this. But it's so important to realise how important it is to slow down and appreciate how vital the audience is to the magic. Michael Vincent has lots of insights into this topic, so if you haven't already, you might find it interesting to swing by his YouTube page. 

Take care for now.

Andrew
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #3 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
In this world of magic there are so many tricks available to us, and we spend a great deal of our time and money investing in tricks, books, DVDs and downloads. But without volunteers and an interactive audience there is little magic - in some respects the magic industry encourages us to consider the tricks, our character and our scripts, but how often are we giving any consideration to those watching our shows.

Chan Canasta is one of my influences and the following quote is one which definitely struck a chord with me:

“Canasta had discovered that the most interesting thing on the stage was the people themselves, not the tricks he performed. And what those people did and what they said mattered just as much as what he did. Canasta’s shows involved a genuine two-way interaction between performer and spectator.” - David Britland

The people we interact with are vastly important in our lives, and that means everyone in every area of our lives, but especially so in the art of magic. Yesterday I was listening to an interview with Avner the Eccentric and his thoughts and philosophies were most inspiring... on volunteers he says "Their enjoyment is your employment"

All of his principles on volunteers are well worth considering... you can find his guidelines here:

https://avnertheeccentric.com/volunteers.php


Fantastic post and a lot to think about and apply to our own performances.
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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew



Hi, Socrates.

Thank you for posting your thoughts on this and the two lovely quotes. I couldn't agree more: There is no magic without our audience and volunteers. If they do not exist, then it's just a person sitting around practicing moves. It is this realisation that has pushed me to try and perform more this year, and I have been making a concerted effort to do so at work.

How we interact with people outside of a magical performance is also very important. In fact, everything we do outside of magic informs our performances, I think. We should take a genuine interest in others, their lives, stories and experiences - and we should do this even if we do not plan on showing them magic. This way, we are interacting with people on a human level on a daily basis, and when it comes time to perform our magic we will find it much easier to connect and build rapport. Then, I feel, our performance will go some way to becoming less about someone performing some tricks and more about a shared interaction between a group of interesting people.

It's easy, through nerves and inexperience, to bluster through tricks and forget about our audience - I can be guilty of this. But it's so important to realise how important it is to slow down and appreciate how vital the audience is to the magic. Michael Vincent has lots of insights into this topic, so if you haven't already, you might find it interesting to swing by his YouTube page. 

Take care for now.

Andrew


Andrew, you are so right about beginners blustering through tricks.  Sometimes it is because they haven't practiced enough and rehearsed enough.  In my mind there is a distinction between practicing and rehearsing.  When I practice, I might stop and do a count one more time if I flub it.  I might shuffle again.  In other words, I am just working through the procedure, the "mechanical" aspects of the trick.  When I rehearse, I envision people being there.  I actually talk and look around and sometimes even pause for reactions, etc.  In that way, I can somewhat duplicate what is going to happen in the real world.  I can factor in time for talking, applause (hopefully!) laughter and everything else.

If you tell a beginner to work out 8 minutes of magic, I'll bet more than half of them would be finished in under 5.  Because they focus on the tricks and not the performance.
They rush through each trick, focused on getting to the end without screwing up as the goal.

And BTW, Michael Vincent is a great recommendation.  A true gentleman and an artist.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #5 
A "dress rehearsal" should even go beyond what happens in rehearsal. In a dress rehearsal you imagine the audience is there etc, but when a mistake happens, you don't get to stop and start over, you have to deal with the mistake as you would have to if there really were an audience present. You should also video the dress rehearsal. 

M
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Socrates

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Practice, rehearsal and real-life performance... each one requires a different approach, and each one plays an important part in our magic. But the most valuable of all is the audience, for without them the magic cannot live.

Again, we place a great emphasis on our tricks but we should put an equal amount of time, maybe more, into audience interaction. And in order to do that it would be worth any magicians time to invest in learning more about communication and further developing our interpersonal skills.

Digital dexterity is one thing but if you cannot communicate with others then all that time practicing sleight of hand may be wasted..

Beginners should consider putting together a series of self-workers so they can concentrate their efforts on communicating with the people who make up their audience - as Avner says "Their enjoyment is your employment"
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
Practice, rehearsal and real-life performance... each one requires a different approach, and each one plays an important part in our magic. But the most valuable of all is the audience, for without them the magic cannot live.

Again, we place a great emphasis on our tricks but we should put an equal amount of time, maybe more, into audience interaction. And in order to do that it would be worth any magicians time to invest in learning more about communication and further developing our interpersonal skills.

Digital dexterity is one thing but if you cannot communicate with others then all that time practicing sleight of hand may be wasted..

Beginners should consider putting together a series of self-workers so they can concentrate their efforts on communicating with the people who make up their audience - as Avner says "Their enjoyment is your employment"


As I read this I began to wonder about cardistry performers. Their whole thing is basically an exhibition of skill. Cardistry has been compared with juggling which is also an exhibition of skill. There seems to be an absence of the the variety shows on television these days where one might see a juggler occasionally. So where do they perform? And where do cardistry folk perform? I haven't seen a juggler or a cardistry person on television in forever.
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Socrates

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Storytellers and comedians are also of great interest. I often consider how to involve an entire audience and make it meaningful to them... we can learn a lot from the study of storytelling and stand-up comedy.

Comedy and magic have a lot in common - the set-up and punchline is much the same as a magician setting-up the trick and its conclusion.

They is always much to learn from looking outside of the world of magic for inspiration.
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Matt G

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


As I read this I began to wonder about cardistry performers. Their whole thing is basically an exhibition of skill. Cardistry has been compared with juggling which is also an exhibition of skill. There seems to be an absence of the the variety shows on television these days where one might see a juggler occasionally. So where do they perform? And where do cardistry folk perform? I haven't seen a juggler or a cardistry person on television in forever.
I can't speak for juggling, but cardistry is huge on the internet. There are cardists with tens of thousands of followers on YouTube/Instagram. It's actually kind of interesting, because unlike magic where when you're learning the sleights and effects, it's all about being able to perform it 10/10 times in front of a live audience, there are tons of moves in cardistry that rely on luck and are designed to be performed on camera, because they simply can't be reliably performed in person. Obviously live cardistry performances can be incredibly mesmerizing as well, but they simply can't feature a lot of the craziest moves that you can see in YouTube compilations. There are a few conventions every year where people get together and perform in person, but I'd say most cardists perform for social media.
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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt G
I can't speak for juggling, but cardistry is huge on the internet. There are cardists with tens of thousands of followers on YouTube/Instagram. It's actually kind of interesting, because unlike magic where when you're learning the sleights and effects, it's all about being able to perform it 10/10 times in front of a live audience, there are tons of moves in cardistry that rely on luck and are designed to be performed on camera, because they simply can't be reliably performed in person. Obviously live cardistry performances can be incredibly mesmerizing as well, but they simply can't feature a lot of the craziest moves that you can see in YouTube compilations. There are a few conventions every year where people get together and perform in person, but I'd say most cardists perform for social media.


Thanks for that Matt!
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Socrates

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No audience interaction or volunteers required!
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Paco Nagata

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
Beginners should consider putting together a series of self-workers so they can concentrate their efforts on communicating with the people who make up their audience - as Avner says "Their enjoyment is your employment"

This is specially a very good advise!

If you can bring the attention of your people by just guessing a "forced card" in a magical, funny and entertainig way, you can be sure that you are prepared to be a magician.
The "Invisible Deck Routine" is NOTHING without a good showmanship.
Magic Stuff are worth nothing without a good staging by a good magician.

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"The Passion of an Amateur Card Magician" https://bit.ly/2lXdO2O
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Latest erratum corrections and improvements update, 16/06/2020
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Paco Nagata

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
Comedy and magic have a lot in common - the set-up and punchline is much the same as a magician setting-up the trick and its conclusion.

They is always much to learn from looking outside of the world of magic for inspiration.

Certainly! Exaggerations for comedy have been a good way to show magical effects since always:
When I was a child and saw for the first time a clown crying a great stream of tears from the eyes, I didn't exactly know if laugh or amaze!
Let's notice that spectators usually (almost always) laugh after a magical effect along with the amazement.
Magic is funny!
You laugh because you don't believe what you are seeing!

Famous stars of silent films such as Buster Keaton, Charles Chaplin and Harold Lloyd used techniques or ideas of magicians to be able to stage some of their picturesque sketches, but not to pretend to be magicians, but to provoke laughter through comical fantasies and exaggerations, such as Charles Chaplin eating a boot or Harpo Marx a candle, as well as Buster Keaton entering a movie screen.

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"The Passion of an Amateur Card Magician" https://bit.ly/2lXdO2O
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Latest erratum corrections and improvements update, 16/06/2020
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #14 
Audiences must always be treated with respect and volunteers even more so.  Not everyone wants to "be on stage" and as such, many are uncomfortable with being asked to assist a magician.  Handling volunteers is an art in itself.  From the initial invitation to their return to their seat, the magician must remember to be courteous and to make them feel "at home".  Remember their name after you ask for it and use it.  Don't ask and then forget, nothing appears worse than that.

Always remember that the volunteer is more than just an assistant.  They are a representative of the audience as a whole.  The audience shares in the magic through their own eyes and ears but is aided though the reactions and interaction of the volunteer.  There is a vicarious impact on the rest of the audience based upon watching the relationship between the volunteer and the performer.  Don't ever underestimate it.


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