Some Magical Questions

In this short series I shall try to be objective on several questions that are constantly argued whenever magicians meet. I will leave you to act as a sort of jury.

Let us begin with Silence versus Patter. Now, nobody will deny that Silence can often be golden, especially if the performer is posing as a Chinese or an Indian. Even the cleverest Mr. Robinson will lose power if he allows an Oxford accent or a Scottish dialect to proceed from his Wun Lung Wun countenance.

But Silence can also be as dull as tin if the absence of patter is not offset by something which arrests the eye to the extent that the ear does not matter. In short, the Silent performer must make up for the absence of the spoken word—either by super manipulation or a presentation that is magnetic.

Even so, the Talkative magician can easily make us wish he would be quiet. However amusing or fluent he may be, there is lack of entertainment if his chatfer-patter is not related to his tricks. His danger lies in padding and the use of imposed jokes that are either feeble in themselves or take away from the action of his magic.

How many performers think of that? And how many, whether Silent or Vocal, bring genuine personality to bear on their acts? Just as the amateur theatre is full of "stock" players, portraying all "drunks" or parsons or old men in exactly the same way in each play, so the average magician is apt to become a conventionalist. Why, for example, must most silent acts be pseudoChinese or pseudo-Indian? And why do most Talkie-conjurors copy each others patter, generally with the words supplied by the dealers?

The members of the Vampire Club seemed taken aback when I told them of a conversation I had in a long distance bus with a very modern and intelligent young woman. Whilst admitting that magicians were "clever", she said they nearly always made her yawn because they were so obviously phoney, silly rather than funny and so unenterprising and dated. "Must you ALWAYS mess about with handkerchiefs, bits of cord and boxes that scream falseness to us?" she asked.

I thought that, perhaps, she was in a minority of one; but I have met many moderns since who take a similar view. Before I attended a party of children quite recently the hostess (high up in the entertainment world) said "You won't forget, will you John? that the children are five years older than when you first came. They get awfully bored with the usual tricks they see at parties. They Ye so used to them."

It all comes back to the matter of Presentation, doesn't it? May I suggest that you debate this subject at your next Club night? But don't get too heated about it. The old-fashioned conjuror is entitled to his 1900 act so long as he presents it in the style of that period; and Mr. 1953 is fully justified in going at breakneck speed in this jet age.

Your debate is bound to be a bit violent since most magicians jealously guard their type of act as though it were sacred. Whilst being the most matey people of all entertainers—think how they call each other Alf and Bill, Rosie and Jimmy-boy!—they are surprising in their antagonisms, especially if A puts forward a method which B thought of (or possibly copied) six months earlier.

But we will leave that subject for the next issue. It is worth an article all to itself.

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We consider it a real scoop to have been able to get this splendid Children's Effect, and we feel sure that many of you will soon be working it.

On the table stands a cut-out figure of a girl, in front of which rests a school slate. The slate is removed revealing the girl holding a white skipping rope. A small parcel is now picked up and inside is found a bag. The bag is opened and inside is found five more white ropes. These are put back in the bag.

Although Mary is pleased with these new ropes, she wishes they were different colours. Mary didn't know that the ropes were magic ones and her wish came true, for upon taking the ropes from the bag they are seen to be of different colours. She decides to use a different colour for each day, so she marked them down on her slate, one colour for each day.

Mary could never remember which day it was, for the days in Toyland are different from ours. The slate is picked up and shown to children. The slate is consulted and it shows that the white rope is used on Tuesdays, so it must be Tuesday in Toyland. As Mary does a lot of skipping she gets very tired, and decides there and then to have a nap. So she covers her face up with her hanky and very soon she was asleep.

While asleep her friends plan to have a game with her by changing the rope so that Mary would be confused when she woke up. They quietly took away the white rope and then they couldn't make up their minds which rope to give Mary in place of the white one. One wanted red, another green, and so on. So they decided to put them all in the bag and have one chosen. This is done and one rope is taken out. Knowing what a temper Mary had, no one would offer to put the rope on Mary in case they woke her up while they were doing it.

Then somebody said 'Let's make it go by magic'. The chosen colour is put in the bag and the magic word is said, but the rope fails to go. Then everyone must say the magic word together. All the children call it out chawhn& bag- with TWO DIVISIONS

chawhn& bag- with TWO DIVISIONS

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