Developing Your Performance Techniques

The subject of performance techniques could take up many books by itself, in fact many volumes have been written about it, but to save you investing in a set of new book shelves, we will endeavour to give you the most important and useful guidance on the subject.

When you have seen many magicians' acts (as we have), the ones that stand out as the best are those that are original in style and content, and that focus on entertaining rather than on being technically clever. It's as simple as that.

There are far too many 'text book' magicians around, and they should be shot on the spot! It's so frustrating that even with the ability to create their own great act, they simply copy their effects straight from a textbook, or even worse, from another magicians act.

Copying another act is a great temptation, but you must avoid it all costs. If you see a trick or what is known as a 'bit of business' that you think you can develop into your own style, then by all means go to the performer and seek their permission. If they say no, walk away and don't do it!

When Paul was developing his own performances in the clubs of the UK, whilst on stage one night he noticed that he said something in the tone and manner of Eric Morecambe. Eric at that time was part of the fabulously successful British comedy duo, Morecambe and Wise, and their show was always on television. It was one of Paul's favourite TV programs, but from that night he vowed never to watch another show, such was his desire to be his own person, not copying someone else!

Paul firmly believes that at magic club level, if anyone sees another member obviously copying an established performers routines, handling or patter, it should be stopped immediately. Unfortunately, this rarely happens.

In devising each and every BBC magic show for television, Paul went to amazing lengths to make the content highly original. Very very rarely did he perform a 'dealer' effect 'out of the packet' as it were. Even with those few, he always added his own personality.

Regardless of where the effect had originally been developed, each one was painstakingly taken apart, every aspect of it carefully considered to see whether it could be done in a better way, and whether a full stage dressing, costumes, and lighting would enhance it.

Frequently a routine would be developed that needed special scenery to be built, and within the Paul Daniels magic show, even 'old' or classic magic effects were performed in a completely new manner.

It didn't have to be like that of course, and frequently the BBC were irritated at the expense of the production values and attention to detail that Paul insisted on, but they did end up with some extraordinarily high quality TV as a result. The fact that the show won the coveted Golden Rose of Montreux award (International TV festival) was independent testimony to this fact. Even seasoned magicians had no choice but to admit that Paul excelled at the task of consistently creating interesting and entertaining magic shows. And that's what it's all about!

Paul as 'Ching Ling Soo' - one of the thousands of superb routines on the TV show.
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