If a magical effect is at all complicated i.e., not easy to understand, the audience will become confused. Somewhere along the line, something will happen, the significance of which is diffused or unclear. The magical element will, consequently, be undermined. It is therefore, very important that everything, which happens, is easy to understand. The spectators should be clear, in their own minds, as to exactly where you started from and of what you have led up to.
For a magical effect to be easy to understand, it needs to have a certain logicallity. For example, in one of my own favourite effects, I sprinkle salt on a table knife. The salt is apparently tossed in the air and vanishes. I then pretend to catch it on the knife blade. It does reappear — by magic. There is a logic to this sequence. The salt vanishes and then comes back. If, instead of reproducing the salt, I were to catch a playing card, or a billiard ball, there would be nothing logical about it. It would not make sense and the audience would be confused. They would also feel "conned" rather than baffled. This is because I would have led them to believe that I was doing a trick with salt. I would have encouraged them to be looking for salt reappearing. They would not be expecting anything else. If, instead of salt, a card appeared, they would feel that I had "qheated". They were not looking for that. Nobody had said anything about cards. It could have come from anywhere.
The above argument does not apply to tricks in which a large object is produced as a climax to a routine with small ones, as in the Chop Cup, sponge balls etc. Here the situation is entirely different. The magician has already performed a series of effects using the small objects. There have been a number of tricks and a number of "logical" climaxes. The large object finish provides the kicker at the end. The performer has "earned the right" to use it, in the light of what has gone before. Were he to just perform the final phase of the routine, with-out any of the preliminary effects, the production of the large object would be meaningless; the logicallity would have been destroyed.
It is important that what you do is clear, if it is to be easily understood. Logicallity alone is not always sufficient to ensure this. It is sometimes possible for an effect to be logical but so hedged round with complications that it becomes confusing. The audience can be called upon to retain too much information, or make too many deductions, in order to follow the plot. A lot of card and mental magic is in constant danger of becoming too complex, in this way.
Another minefield, to be trodden with care, is the routine, where several unrelated climaxes take place simultaneously. This is not to be confused with a sequence of climaxes coming, one on top of te other. That type of progression can often build up to a big finish. If too many things happen together, the initial stage of things gets forgotten. The magical element becomes lost.
In commercial close-up magic, it is essential that the plot of the effect moves directly from start to finish, in a straight line. The presentation must not become cluttered with extraneous matters. The temptation to "guild the lilly" must be rigorously guarded against. I sometimes think that the same applies to methods. Although it is by no means a hard and fast rule, in general, a complicated method tends to result in a confusing effect.
Nothing, that has been said in this short series, is in print for the first time. It is, however, the result of my own experience. The fact that my experiences have been similar to those of others, merely proves the substance of those experiences.
I would urge anybody, who is going to perform in a commercial situation, to come to terms with the things, which have been discussed. Unless you do so, the money will not be there.
To sum up the three articles, briefly: begin by establishing a rapport. From the very start, the audience must be with you and you must be with them. They must like you; you must like them. The show must be entertaining. The element of challenge must be eliminated. This is achieved by having the inner confidence, which comes from knowing that your magic is worth doing: that the presentation will give pleasure.
Open with something highly visual, which will grab attention. Move from that, through to the finish of the performance, building up a series of climaxes (and additional climaxes) which hold attention and hit them hard.
For commercial work, I mostly use the sort of everyday objects that will be commonly found in the performing situation — table knives, salt pots, sugar lumps etc. I prefer this to the introduction of special props. Not that I am against the latter. There are occasions when beautifully made, expensive looking props can add a touch of class (a gleaming silver Chop Cup etc.). On the whole, I try to keep these things to a minimum and make use of whatever is normally around.
Was this article helpful?
Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.