Packs Flat, Plays Big and doesn’t Weigh To Much

Over the years I have bought enough magic to fill a garage. I don’t mean that figuratively I mean it absolutely literally. As a matter of fact there are a couple of rooms in my house that are packed with magic props too. That is a lot of props for someone who doesn’t use many props!

A few years ago I discarded my illusion show which gave me a little more room to see what was left. It kind of surprised me because most of it was items that were guaranteed to pack flat and play big. If they really do pack flat they must be pretty darn thick!

I suppose to the traveling magician there is no greater hook than to think you have just bought an item that will fit in your pocket and yet entertain the back row of a theater. The trouble is that they also have to play strong. That is what requires a little work.

I travel the world on a pretty regular basis and I am always aware of the need to keep my show with me at all times. The way airline travel has developed recently the only case I am confident will arrive is the small case that travels in the baggage rack above me in the plane.

I travel a small black ‘catalogue bag’ with wheels, that is almost permanently attached to my right hand. It is a good thing that it has wheels because it weighs a tremendous amount. Inside that case are forty-six tricks or to put it another way: two fifty minute shows and a twenty-minute show.  Oh, and I usually manage to squeeze in my ipod and a couple of small hard drives too.

It is a wonderful lesson in magic to have to think small. It causes you to look at the heart and soul of an effect and forget the extras and trimmings. Big is not always better in magic it sometimes just says something about the person performing it. I used to tease my friend and colleague Piet Paulo by telling him that you either have talent or you have props. He hated that joke. I also used to tell him that you could cut down a hundred pounds of props for every five minutes of strong stand-up you could perform.

The picture to your right shows the current props for my 55 minute theatre show. I’m trying to cut back a little though.

llusionists have a tendency to take the smaller tricks and throw them away while the props are being set and the costumes changed for the next illusion. I have made my living getting the very most out of carefully chosen smaller effects. It is much easier on the back and cuts down on the need for the chiropractors services.

Amongst the very best bits of advice Billy McComb ever gave me was after he taught me his version of the Six Card Repeat. He said, “I always carry this with me onstage, just in case.” I put Billy’s words into application and they have served me well. I can open or close any show with this trick not to mention use it anywhere in between. Need a little extra time in the show or something goes wrong? Hey, there is the 6 Card Repeat. This and Zoloft will give you peace of mind.

My very favorite pack flat and play big tricks in my case include: The Spot Card, Color Change Silks, The Card Stab (Roy Johnson’s brilliant handling), The Nemo Rope Routine, the Tossed Deck and the trick I have made my living with over the years The Himber Linking Rings. In fact if you mix these items up with some blocks of comedy you end of with a pretty cool show. I know I’ve done it.

Do any of you out there have any favorite routines that are always lying in wait at the bottom of your case?

~ by Nick Lewin on September 21, 2010.

One Response to “Packs Flat, Plays Big and doesn’t Weigh To Much”

  1. Would be fantastic insight to get a similar “list” from 50 working pros. If there are that many left in this economy. lol!

    Fantastic post as always Nick.

    All the best,


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