Hands And Feet

Every good magician is a character, different from any other. He may be playing quite 'straight' in evening dress and complete with the Chinese Rings, the Die Box and a Rabbit. But only as his own personality radiates through his tricks can he become more than a robot.

Many magicians and actors seem to think that character is wholly a matter of the voice and what it says. That is why, however fluent they are, their talk becomes mere words, words, words. There are more parrots on the stage than in cages!

All character begins in the feet; and provided that the magician or actor has understanding at the other end of his body as well, he will realise that if his feet are right, the remainder of the body will automatically follow suit. For example, the clicking of the heels braces the body to become soldierly, whereas a weak position of the feet makes the knees feeble and almost forces the body to be aged.

Attention to the feet makes all the difference to the appearance of a man wearing evening dress. It makes him more spruce. The clown who has to waddle or stand vacantly will more readily get into the necessary frame of mind for his performance if his feet are contributory to his actions. That is why the professional clown is so particular about his boots or shoes.

When it comes to waiking about on a stage, the question of pace is highly important. To stride about a stage making long steps looks ugly in the confined space. Generally shorter steps than in real life are more effective, especially if the performer wishes to convey alterness. The speed at which the steps are taken, too, should be studied, In a languid, casual sort of act, they will be much slower than in a quick-fire show. This is particularly important when the performer first comes on the stage, since his very walk will immediately indicate the type of performer he is.

The feet and the hands can be used to give confidence whilst waiting to 'go on'. If you stand firmly with body erect and fists tightly closed—just for a minute or so—it is astonishing how much surer you will feel; far better than after drinking a brandy and soda!

The hands are rather a different proposition. As a general rule they are used for making gestures to give point to words or other actions. Gestures can be much overdone, and are often too quick and unsustained. All good gestures spring from within and should not be imposed from without. They should express what the performer is feeling and should be naturai to him. The actor, Oscar Homoika, used to have a peculiar gesture which all the text-books would call ugly and wrong. He would look through his fingers spread widely open. It created a most eerie effect, almost hypnotic. It was not merely a piece of technique; he copied it from a habit he had when emphasising some point in ordinary conversation . Hence, my advice is to study your normal gestures and use them, they may be modified or enlarged, when you get on the stage.

Use your arms from the shoulders and not only from the elbows, otherwise you will look like a fish.

If you have 'beautiful' hands, don't show them off. The audience will be quick enough to spot them. This is a strong temptation with most manipulators of cards and coins. Surely it is the cards and the coins that should be most prominent—not the hands. Indeed, the psychological effect of showing-off the hands is to make an audience revert to that awful old tag 'The quickness of the hand deceives the eye'—which is exactly what you ought not to be conveying. I would go further than that and say that obvious manipulation is not magic, just as obvious moves in a play do not constitute genuine 'production'. True art conceals art.

Just one final point. Be careful of rings on the fingers, wrist watches and long or badly-cut finger nails. Many a trick has been spoilt by audible "clinks" (particularly against glass) and by fingernails that get in the way of cards.

Some of you may cavil at my emphasis on feet, hands, and other things about which I have written in this series. But a good actor uses the whole of his body, and so does the good magician.


News from and about Magicians

We were very happy to hear recently from Mr. T. G. R. Goonewardene, Hon. Sec. of the Association of Ceylon Magicians. They seem to be a very go ahead society, and we notice that our old friend A. C. G. S. Amar-asekera, whom we last heard of in Paris, is their President. He is also a member of the British Ring I.B.M., and the Magic Circe, and was well known to British Magicians during and after the War, when he lived at Cambridge.

The newspaper cutting sent shows a large article with photographs in "The Times of Ceylon Sunday Illustrated" and gives a detailed report of one of their Sunday Evening meetings at the "Palm Court". It tells of the tricks used by the local magicians, and one sees that they are all supplied by the depots of the Western World. They are planning a Festival of Magic and have high hopes of becoming affiliated to the I.B.M. We send our best wishes for future success.

Seen in the "Sunday Despatch" on May 4th:—'I will always work in the interests of magic," said Canon T. J. James, of Brighton, taking the vows of initiation into the Regency Magical Society, at Hove. Magic, obviously still makes news !

In a recent letter wishing us good luck with Magic Magazine, Jay Palmer says: "I am a member of British Interplanatery Society and only magician on their list to have interest in making a trip to the moon. Excuse hasty letter." We think Jay must be unique in this respect, but hope he will not be in too much of a hurry to get there!

We regret to report the news from Fred Lewis, of the passing of Horace Beer, whose stage name was El-Loodah. He was one of the older members of the Magic Circle, and was working on his tricks, and planning new shows right up to the last day of his life. He did a great deal of work for charity, and magicians who knew him will remember his sterling qualities.

"Going thru the contents of your Magic Magazine, I enjoyed reading every article and would like to join the Vampire Club. You may be interested to know when I was in Bombay last I visited my old friend Eddie Joseph (Ed Jason) who was then convalescing and getting ready for his American tour. At the same time I was fortunate to catch Cecil Lyle at the Excelsior, Bombay. I liked his Squared Circle effect. Again when I was in Calcutta, last I understand that Lyle passed thru' after a two weeks engagement at the New Empire, Calcutta. After my Calcutta business was over, I proceeded to Bombay again in the month of April to see Eddie well. I had also the pleasure of meeting The Creat Masoni (Eric Mason) with that charming mentallist Shan. He was at Spence's Hotel and later proceeded to Karachi. There was also a very clever Frenchman DANNY RAY and Partner at the Prince's, Grand Hotel, Calcutta. I am happy to hear of Lester Sharpe. I compered a magic show when Lester worked with Gogia Pasha, the Egyptian Magi . . . First in Bombay and for ten days in Colombo, Ceylon early last year. Lester and Iris are a very fine pair, both on and off stage and Lester is amusingly miraculous with a pack of cards. Please tell him so, and give him my kind regards.

I have been an I.B.M.'er since 1934 but lost touch during the war years. So you will notice that my re-instatement notice has me as a New Applicant. I am interested in Drawing Room and Cabaret performances and work as an Indian, though a Ceylonese. I spent many years in India and have seen and known such famous magicians as Carter, Nicola, Chefalo, Levante, Minoo, Chang, Culpitt etc."—Norman A. Perera.

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