Time to talk about Magic Material

In my last blog I wrote a few thoughts about material for the performing magician. This week I want to continue with my musings on the same topic. There really is nothing else that can make a bigger difference to the quality of a show. A bad magician can make himself look better  by consideration of this subject and a good magician can make himself look great.

You can’t look at each trick as a separate entity, you need to think holistically when choosing the pieces that make up the jigsaw puzzle that make up your act. I choose that word with care, not just to sound smart, because just as when you shatter an actual hologram, each tiny particle it breaks into, contains within it a fully fledged picture of the entire image it represented before being de-constructed.

When assembling a show, you can’t go far wrong using the old fashioned theatrical master plan as your performing model. A start, a middle and an ending. This may sound like very basic advice but as you will realize when you watch a bunch of magic (and comedy) acts that it is more often missing in its execution than you would believe possible.

What makes a good opening to a magic act? Well here are some thoughts to chew on, the trick should;

1 Be fast and interesting and capture your audience’s attention as quickly as possible. The estimate is that you have about 30 seconds to win over an audience at the beginning of the show. If you don’t win ‘em over fast it probably won’t get done at all.

2 The real purpose of that first trick is to introduce the audience to you as a performer/person. More than any other part of your show it is just a vehicle to present yourself in the best light. That is one reason that I strongly believe that you must choose a trick that allows you to make eye contact as much as possible with your audience. You should never need to look at the props you are using unless it is to emphasis something important.

3 It shouldn’t be your strongest piece of material–leave that until the audience knows you a little better, otherwise it is wasted. The opening of the show is all about YOU, YOU, YOU! Save the strongest piece of material for later on in the show and choose something easily accesable that compliments your strengths.

4 It shouldn’t be a trick you have to worry about in the slightest. Choose a trick you are really comfortable with where you don’t need to think about the mechanics involved. When you have a good opening effect (or two) STICK WITH IT/THEM. This is such a key part of the show don’t mess with it!

Now the middle part of the act is when you have more leeway in your choice of material. This is when you can do things that are lightly to slow down or introduce variables into the proceedings. It is the time to bring an audience member onto the stage, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how I feel about doing that in your opening to the show–if you have any doubts then read the last three points again.

The middle of the show is the time to present longer and more complex pieces of material, the time to leave the stage, borrow items from the audience etc. etc. This is the meat of the show and should really be thought of quite literally as a shorter show within a show.

The middle of the show is the time to experiment with newer material and different handling of familiar effects or familiar handling of different effects. Read that last sentence again–there is a lot of hidden wisdom in it that is very relevant to the topic at hand.

One important part of the middle section of the show, is that it is vital to insure you add the variety, texture and pacing that will hold your audience’s interest in what you are doing. You must be very careful to add some subtle changes of tempo and mood in order to fully flesh out your show if you want to achieve the theatrical model that we are aiming for.

It sounds obvious but……even with a great opening and a dynamite closing, if you loose/bore them in the middle you go back to Start and do not receive your two hundred dollars. Don’t fall into an easy comfortable rut here. Make a point of applying some dynamics in order to really add punch to your show. Here is my computer’s  Thesaurus description of dynamics;

energetic, spirited, active, lively, zestful, vital, vigorous, forceful, powerful, positive; high-powered, aggressive, bold, enterprising; magnetic, passionate, fiery, high-octane; go-getting, peppy, full of get-up-and-go, full of vim and vigor, gutsy, spunky, feisty, go-ahead.

As for the third part of our mini-theatrical production……..Next blog my dear readers, it is far to important an element to rush!Why not RSS this blog and make sure you don’t miss it?

Drop me an email at nicklewin26@gmail.com

~ by Nick Lewin on September 24, 2011.

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