Putting Shows Together

There is actually much more to putting shows together than most magicians realise, certainly anyone who just turns up with a bunch of tricks in their pockets they just bought from a magic shop, hoping to put on an effective performance is deceiving themselves.

We make no apology for repeating the importance of the underlying truth that magicians are actors whose purpose is to entertain. You can t do that simply by knowing how to do a couple of tricks. The advice in this and subsequent modules will help you achieve the best possible presentation in the easiest way.

In the beginning, you will want to build a collection of suitable effects and show them to anyone you can, 'forcing' them to watch you. That's okay, you have to start somewhere.

At this stage, realise that the magic is still individual tricks that are almost self selecting, in that when you get a reaction, you want to do them again. The ones that don't get a reaction to tend to drop out of your repertoire, even if you like them yourself.

When we earlier said that when you find tricks, only perform the ones you like, it's the same when you get to actually perform them. Even if you like the trick, you may not like yourself performing it. If that's the case, go back over the effect, and remember, is there any way it can be made better? That is so important.

If it's a new effect, ask people if they liked it. Ask them to be honest - what do they really think of it? Don't rely on the flattery of family and friends, you must get a true audience reaction.

We would now like you to create from your selection of tricks, several acts for different types of show, for example a children's show and a close-up show. Some tricks will cross over, but that's fine.

Think, can you do your close-up tricks in a stand up situation in a comedy store, or even an after dinner cabaret? If you do an illusion show, can you get it in and out of the venue with the minimum of fuss, and can you perform it in 99% of venues? These and similar questions need to be asked at the outset. We are now starting to look at the construction of your act as a business - you must be able to work anywhere.

Yes, you could become a successful children's entertainer and do nothing else. The same applies to other genres of magic such as illusions, mentalism and so on. But magic is now your business. To sit at home because you can only do close-up for example, when other performance areas are open to you, is to throw away opportunities to increase your income.

Let's review some of the most important aspects of putting a show together.

Perhaps first we should mention the common mistakes many magicians make, so that you can immediately eliminate them. Firstly, they perform an individual trick or even an entire show that is too long. Second, no storytelling and variety are used. Thirdly, no pace, pitch and power used in the delivery style.

Like a good book, a good magic show needs a beginning, middle and an ending. Continuing with the book analogy, have you ever picked up a new book only to read a few lines and lose interest? Whatever the author tried used to capture your attention obviously didn't work because you were not sufficiently stimulated to continue reading. Similarly with your show, you absolutely must win the audience over within the first minute or so in order for them to stay with you for the rest of the act.

Even if the audience is bolted to the floor (don't try it), it's still entirely possible for them to 'not be with you' in the sense of them losing interest. However, if you capture their attention at the outset, they will pay attention throughout.

Magicians of the Century

Siegfrieds, ROY


Siegfrieds, ROY


These guys know a thing or two about putting on a show!

How do you win the audience over then at the start of the show? In most cases, you have to open with an attention grabbing effect. Notice that we don't say use your best effect. If you did that, the rest of your show would seem less powerful, even tame.

Having said this, a balanced view says not to 'waste' the trick. Often audiences take awhile to settle down. If you are a talker, it may be preferable to let the audience get to know you. If you are a silent act, give the audience plenty of time to get settled.

Ideally, the opening of your show should accom plish several things. As mentioned, it should first grab the attention of the audience, but it should also establish yourself to the audience so they know what kind of personality you have.

Additionally, the opening prepares the audience for what type of show to expect (comedy, serious etc) as well as demonstrating to them in a small way that they will enjoy it, in essence that you are worth watching!

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