There are about as many different types of magic performances as there are magicians. The diversity of our art is truly staggering and it is wonderful to see so many different approaches. Given this variety, it would seem presumptuous to give advice as to how these shows should be presented. There is one golden rule, however, that will truly apply to any magical entertainment.
The magical performance, from beginning to end, must have no one spot in it that is less important than any other. Good theater demands that your show consists of many different types of effects that inspire different emotions, but all are equally important and even the lesser ones demand the same detail of planning and execution as the most thrilling moments. There should not be one second on stage where the magician is thinking that he doesn't have to give it his best as this is a minor part of the show. In truth, sometimes a period of light humor or casualness requires even more thought to handle correctly in order to create the necessary contrast to make some later effect really shine.
It is this attention to detail that makes a magical performance into a piece of art. Even the casual handling of props must be rehearsed scrupulously so that nothing is left to chance. Every move the performer makes and every word he says must be perfect. There can be no such thing as a dead spot.
Let us examine an exaggerated example. Suppose you were looking at a painting featuring a portrait of an old man. Imagine the artist painted every detail of the face to such perfection that you were almost moved to tears. The look of the eyes, the character of the mouth and other features were flawless. Then suppose the artist slacked off on the background assuming it was not nearly as important as the face and painted it almost the way a child would, using stick figures and sloppy colors. Would you be impressed by the painting? If you had any response, you probably would be stunned that someone could create one part of the painting with such artistic ability and not care at all about the rest. In truth, the lesser would destroy the better.
This is the same way a magic performance comes across if all the little details are not in place. The audience must think how can a man create such wonder one moment and then act so unprofessionally the next? More importantly, they will reject the greatness he might achieve because of the poorness of the rest. This does not even have to be a glaring example of some ineptness, but rather just a lessening of the dynamics of the show. That is far more common.
The performer, for instance, might have a number of effects in his performance that he considers throwaway items. These are filler numbers meant to take up a little time and give him a chance to set up the really big productions. There is nothing wrong with having some quick, smaller effects in your show, but even these must be practiced to perfection and presented with all the professionalism the entertainer is capable of. Even if these effects are not meant to create great mystery, they must be there for some reason. It might be a bit of comedy or a little oddity the magician feels has a place in his performance. Whatever it is, they should not be treated with disdain just because it is not a huge production piece. If they cannot be given the attention they deserve, they should be left out.
Another even more glaring offense is a magical number the magician doesn't get quite the reaction from or has trouble performing, and so, runs through it as though to get it out of the way. This is disastrous and must be corrected. Nothing will make your show look more mundane or make you look like an amateur than this approach. If you cannot perform an effect the way it needs to be performed, or if you cannot get the kind of reaction from it that you know you should get, please leave it out until you can fix it! Yes, you have to break in certain effects and that is not what is being discussed here. Whenever a new item is added to your show, carefully examine your performance and the reaction it gets and then make whatever changes are necessary before performing it again. To continue to just do the effect without making this effort will only prolong the problem and make it a permanent fixture in your show.
It is also common for a magician to start out strong and then fall back into a relaxed and uneventful continuation of the performance with a just few highlights that shine. This usually happens because the magician has two or three real specialty items he is very proud of and has worked hard on, but has not given the rest of the show the same attention. That part is ordinary and commonplace. Again, this is courting disaster. The special stuff will pale in relation to the rest of the show instead of vice versa. It will be wasted.
The magician must consider his entire performance, from beginning to end, to be equally important and must give every item in it the greatest attention and effort. A great way to get into the proper frame of mind is to treat each effect as though it was a separate show unto itself. Pretend this is the only magic you can do and you must base your whole reputation on this one number. Given that mental state, you will be guaranteed to perfect each piece and give it the best you have. Even small segues from one effect to the next must be viewed with the same enthusiasm. You should work on what you will say, how you will move, where you will put your stuff, etc. Everything must flow and be professional.
Finally, you must consider your present show to be your final show. Many magicians make the mistake of considering their current act to be only a temporary one and have a vision of building it up with larger and more elaborate pieces. They are always working towards some imaginary, future show. Please do not think that way. Make up your mind that whatever you have to work with now is what you should put all your energies into. In all probability, you will always be looking for something better, but you cannot treat what you are currently doing as inferior to those expectations. You must come to realize that the routines and props are secondary compared to your own professional ability and knowledge. You are the show and not the gadgets you cart around.
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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.