Chapter Twentytwo The Unexpected

The big difference between rehearsing in private and performin • public is that things will happen in performance that you n? 'n anticipated in rehearsal. Your success as a performer will depend^' part on how well you handle these unforeseen situations. This in t ^ will depend on how well you've prepared for them. That may sou1"!! like a contradiction. How can you prepare for something you can't foresee? Well, institutions like the U.S. military do it all the time "

Practice And Rehearsal

The military knows that one of the keys to handling the unforeseen is proper training. For the same reason, you have to train yourself properly. Sometimes you will have things go wrong technically in a performance. Sometimes you will have to vary your patter so as to adapt to an unexpected situation. Sometimes you will have to fashion on the spur of the moment, a strategy for dealing with some problem created by a spectator.

You must have your technique so well perfected that you can perform . with no couscous thought so your mind can focus, if necessary, on have^oTnTtf ieaIj"h an ™*^ted situation. You^urt noZnZ^ r 1 h0m,eh1, 'hat you can recite it with out howT „ i g so your mmd can focus, if necessary, on figuring your tectaioue T ^ °f * t0ChmCal jani' Y°u

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mind races to figure out how t„T I PT lf necea8aIy ™hile your some major unfo^en Action ' SpeCta,OT "

achieving that is practice and rehearsal. Writers like The ^ft , ger T.A. Waters, nnd others have stressed the distinction fu(>ne Notice and rehearsal, but the point is worth covering again bct\vi""a 1 what y0U do to maBter the sleight of hand. Rehearsal jg to master the performance. "1,aty°l practice involves repeatedly executing a given sleight. This P'oc"f be done both in front of a mirror to monitor the illusion ehoilld without a mirror to avoid becoming dependent un mirror .-rented ana

■ want to give you the impression that practice is merely a I don t w mec^nnical repetition. Practice should also be both an plotter ^^ a creat,ive procesB. However, the repetition element is analytic ^ rhy aspect that'B most relevant to what we're now inipor an . ^ ^ repeated drilling on a move that will allow you to JlSrform that move when the time comes with no effort and virtually no thought.

ffect this drilling is a conditioning process. Its analogous lo the hat training a soldier undergoes to condition him to react .riv and without conscious thought, in the high-atreas situation Thnttle Performing, however enjoyable it may be, also places you nder a certain amount of stress. By conditioning yourself to respond SSS when it comes time to do the move, you avoid needlessly adding to that stress.

JrtlX LotYwill recite that line ev t^ l execute the move in practice. don t wony ^ coordinating the line line- „v„nt ridine thiB. There is no

At first you may feel .^u woSd sound pretty silly denying that, if anyone were hstenulg, ^ nu om 1B

parroting the same line jj, the whole performance listening. You'll find this te hnmue WW P ^ ^^ lost ,n run smoothly. You'llals^«»drt^^emind you what move come, the middle of a trick. The hat patter comes next.

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to end Without «topping. You should perform every act.on you j ,o do in performance. You should utter every word you Plan performance. You should handle every prop exactly as you jj performance.

If VOU intend to have a card signed during a trick, actually take o,.> the pen and mime handing it to someone. Pause appropriately to ¿J your "ghost spectator" enough time to sign. Be conscious of eve contact with your imaginary audience. 1 ou should be no mor» self-conscious about doing all this than an actor would be while rehearsing in private.

You must rehearse until you've committed your patter to memory 8o thoroughlv that you could recite it in your sleep. This doesn't m'ean that you should deliver your patter as if you're asleep. It does mean that "if a crisis develops you can deliver your patter without concentrating on it for the few moments it takes you to decide on a plan of action.

You may think you're clever and witty enough to decide what to say during your performance. But how witty do you think you can be while your mind is racing to figure out a way to relocate the selected card after you just accidentally dropped the break. The best way to make sure you sound witty and clever at all times is to script your patter, then commit it to memory.

One misconception many magicians have is that they think 4»« and rehearsal are something you do until you've mastered the move or trick in question. Practice and rehearsal are ongoing things. You must practice and rehearse your material even after you've mastered it.

This is for two reasons. First, you'll be amazed at how much both moves and effects can continue to improve even after you thought you had mastered them, if you just keep working on them. Second, even if you perform constantly, performance just isn't enough to keep you in shape on either moves or presentation. You can practice a move more times in a half-hour than you would probably perform it in a year, even if you perform a great deal. If you don't review the material regularly your skills will deteriorate.

Indeed, most of your practice and rehearsal time should be spent on the material you've already mastered and are already using. Working on new material is a secondary matter you should do only in whatever time you have left over after your primary practice.

Screw-Ups

Recently I was talking to a card cheat friend of mine. In the course of conversation he observed. "Show me a card cheat who claims he's 368

practice nr been caught and I'll show you someone who's never rhn ♦ j , f ime sense, I would say. "Show me a magicia Screwed up a tnck and I'll show you I ma^^t erforms.

No matter how much you prepare, you will mnke mistakes. You will less up tricks. Since you know .ts going to happen, it's best to dedde advance how to respond when it does. cme

'"good deal has been written about the use of "ouU" in magic. Much 0f this suggests that a good magician should always be able to brine a trick to a successful conclusion, no matter what. I can t aeree If you're thoroughly familiar with your material, you will sometimes be able to save an effect even if something goes wrong. If you can by all means do so. However, sometimes you just have to abandon a trick There is nothing more embarrassing for an audience than to watch a magician desperately moving from one makeshift to another in a hopeless effort to save a trick that has gone bad beyond all hope You've got to know when to bad out. If a trick can't, be saved, apologize briefly to the audience, then move on to the next trick. When a trick goes bad, you're going to feel terrible. Your natural tendency is to want to dump some of that bad feeling on the audience. You'll want to go on and on about how sorry you are. You'll want to tell them you don't understand how this could have happened. You'll want to explain to them that nothing like this has ever happened before. You'll want to give them a list of reasons why it's not your fault; it's just that it's humid, the deck is old, and you're going through a rough divorce.

You'll want to do all those things to make yourself feel better. But your job is not to make yourself feel better; it's to make the audience feel better. Telling them all these things only makes them feel worse. First of all, they don't care that it never happened before or that it's not your fault the magic dealer sold you a defective folding coin. They came to the show to forget their problems, not to hear about yours. Second of all. vour behavior will embarrass them. People feel uncomfortable watching someone else in pain, particularly if that person wallows in his misfortune.

When something goes wrong in a performance, your job is to make the audience forget it as quickly as possible. Whiningandse^ indulgently dwelling on the matter w>U only .mpre* th°

. •_______if. instead, you treat the matter as oi n something goes wrong ^f^^'/whimng and self-audience forget it «8j;"Xa^uP0nly impre*S ^

little importance, they will too. ^ thing offwlth

Smile (even if didn't work out the: way a comment such as fgfj^ else. This next one is a better planned. Let me show y 369

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