Recreation and Repetition

probably every professional close-up worker has had the experience of mingling at a busy event and performing the one effect, over and over again, all evening and for every group. Nothing wrong with that: if there is only time to show one effect to each group, one may as well choose the strongest and most appropriate material one has.

Even if the situation is not that extreme, it is certainly the case that whatever we are performing, we have done so many, many times before. Hundreds, maybe even thousands ol times. How many times have I closed with the sponge bunnies or three lengths of cocking rope? Too many countless times to tell. This is the situation for most performers of any kind in most areas, but br the close-up worker it is particularly applicable: he might perform his act dozens of limes in an evening. Yet each time that ring vanishes, or each time he unfolds his genitals onto the table to reveal the card niisspelt in ballpoint-pen across the length of his member, each time it must appear to be as fresh and as new as a the first dew-sodden daisy to awaken and stretch on a Monday morning in a meadow in Spring quite far back from the road.

The answer is to think fresh. When you begin the effect, you must talk and act in a way that utterly involves the spectators, not in a way that feels to them as ii they are being talked at. You must believe in the effect as you do it.

I have seen many magicians come out and launch into their routine, a string of quips and moves that leave the audience lar behind.

Everything the performer says feels like a line, and all the lines are usually bad. It is patter of the worst kind. Lines, one after another. We, the audience, retreat and disengage.

You should not be launching anything until you have the spectators on board. Otherwise they will be standing on the docks, halfheartedly waving goodbye as the routine drifts off into a lonely, expansive ocean. No one has come with you, because no one was invited. Nobody was ushered and welcomed aboard, and no one got to come and see the beautiful sights of the shimmering blue sea.

Do you repeat the effect each time that you do it? Or do you recreate it from scratch, brand new and sparkling, each time you start? You can recreate it each time in the same way, without it being a tired repetition. And the best way to do this is to make sure that your spectators are actually involved in each stage of the effect. In a closeup setting, a routine such as the Oil and Water does not incorporate much in the way of participation. So care must be taken to engage the audience with your personality to the extent that they are happy to, essentially, sit and watch for a moment while you show something. In a platform piece that does not involve a spectator joining you, there is a real danger of that lonely cruise-for-one. Producing Aces and Making Things happen With Some Cards will bore your audience senseless unless your character is so likeable and engaging that you are bringing this indifferent material to life. If you, on the other hand, are thinking that the material itself is the part that will win them over, then, well, you get to see all those sights on your own.

Where you can engage a spectator in the process, do. Within the restrictions imposed by pacing, as well as practical and aesthetic considerations, this is generally a good rule of thumb. Engaging a spectator does not mean asking her to hold her hand out. That does not mean that she feels involved. If you think that spectator involvement is about telling them to put their hand here or there, or think of this or that, you are wrong, wrong, wrong. Those things may be involved, but your task is to engage, first and foremost, their imaginations. To bring them in and engage them so deeply, that when they do hold out their hand or take a card, they feel a real sense of anticipation and suspense.

1-low do you achieve this? You realise that the spectators are where the magic happens, not in your hands. You treat them like real people, who will have their cynicisnis and doubts, but who can also be seduced into a more responsive state. You ensure that when you are considering effects, that it is the image of spectators leaning forward and being emotionally very present and very involved that gives you the sense of satisfaction, not just your delight of a cunning method. Cunning methods may often inspire great magic, but then the source of the delight has travelled to better places and the performer has gone on to look at far more potent considerations.

If you do not completely understand this: not as an intellectual idea but as a clear and reverberating belief, then you are not performing satisfying magic. If you do not start looking at how the best magicians engage their audiences instead of how they achieve their effects, you are not moving forward as a magician If you do not realise, to paraphrase Eugene Burger, that a small handful of tricks can suffice for the rest of your life but that it is how you connect them to your audience that is important, then you should. probably, in all fairness, restrict your performances to the amateur level.

If you do understand this maxim, and you resonate it as you seduce your audiences in whatever manner fits your style, then you will have the necessary tool to facilitate the recreation, as opposed to the repetition of the effect as you begin, if you are thinking fresh, and if you have involved your audience and got to know them a little, and you are ensuring that they are utterly involved and intrigued by the possibility of what you may do, then you will not be 'latmching,' yet again, into the same old routine. You will be excited yourself to give them a certain experience that you know will move them, unnerve them or delight them in some way.

You cart deny yourself this enjoyment, and just slog out tricks every time you perform. You can spoil what I am convinced, after ten years or so, is the best job in the world (or second only to the Checker Of Cameron Diai's Breasts), by reducing it to dance, magic Monkey, dance! You can choose to settle for the weary familiarity of the jaded veteran or the bouncy enthusiasm of naivety, both of which stop you from really considering what could happen when you sit down with a group, armed with the talent for creating wonder and thought that you have.

You could deny yourself all of this, and just do tricks at people, but I don't think for a moment that you should impose that limitation upon an audience who have every right to expect far more.

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