Situational Meaning

Since IVe already explored this subject at great length 1 , detail here. Ill only point out that one^f Oie er™,'8° mte situational meaning is the feeling the auri.en, ®T itren8<^ °f particular occasion the situation mfght u^ out d fff °n he spectator might win the conflict i^L"VT 'TWs tune the performer might lose the hundS 11 This the magician-in-trouble gambitclearif f In <*

this performance that doesn't norm n t SOmetllm8 has happened is sense of immedtacy S onTmoreTf" Thmf° meaning whenever possible * °d rea80'' for ^ationd you perform there lrs Ihe nPsT'h y0frailUre' °faJ™' ™ •«.» "P the trick. But if ou're a T" SmS'1 that H> audience wont realize that Its am J™, p0li3hed performer the to time. Mention how difficul a „1, ° 10 remin<1 them time nek ,s brand-new. so Z «A 'f ** 'S' C™—t that the unce^mty mce ^ man J™*** 'he results. Exhibit some tnck does work. «.me visible relief when the

S " P"bably Writ T.^ e Wt d<™ thi° ^ck i" much more special because of the e]em f^i ^ but " that

^e element of uncertainty.

"Lead the audience by the nose to the thought."

Laurence Olivier

Magicians talk a great deal about misdirection. This is understandable since misdirection is one of the cornerstones of effective magic. However, all this talk about misdirection can have one drawback. It leads magicians to think that misdirection is something you create in a vacuum. Let the audience look where they may and pay attention to whatever they wish until the move comes. At that point, use some "misdirection."

Anyone who takes this approach is goxng to find that his misdirection doesn't work. Here is the biggest secret to effective misdirection: Misdirection is only an aspect of the larger subject of attention control. You must be controlling the audience's attention e very moment of the performance. If you don't, they won't be able tofoUowthe thread of the effect. If you do, when the time comes to misdirect them from a secret move, you'll find it an easy matter to do so. There are two aspects * atte^on directing attention. Most of the topira we dramatic structure, substantive meaning, want to talk about pacing-will help you ^ y0ur story the way you directing attention in such a way as to ceu want to tell it.

Mapping The Route

• t that in order for misdirection to Other writers have made thepmnt ^ UU!DÜm „,, the time work the performer must control ^ ^ JHJMed enD„Bh not just when the move comes up.

in the past is that attention control is important quite aPart _ issue of misdirection. A stage director doesnt have to worry hiding sleight-of-hand moves, yet he w,U be careful to staRe sccne in such a way that the audience 8 attention is focused whcr^ wants it.

Similarly, a film director will choose each shot very carefl% ensure that the audience takes note of what he wants them to U will also compose each frame so that the audience focuses on'ft! .„formation within the frame that he considers most important Otherwise, they might miss a fact that is vital in order for them to understand the story

As I've said before, magic is a narrative art. Every effect is a story told in dramatic form. All dramatic art forms, whether the stage, film or novel, work essentially the same way. The viewer is shown pieces of information. The way these pieces of information relate to cach other and the order in which they arc revealed add up to a story. But it's not enough to put a fact in front of a spectator. You have to make him notice it understand it, and remember it.

They say you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. But if you want to be a good showman, you've got to learn how to make the audience drink. One of the keys to that is attention control. Magic on television provides a powerful example of the importance of proper attention control. A TV director has total power to direct the audience's attention since they can only look at what he chooses to put on the screen at any given moment. Think of a case where you saw some magic on television where the director chose his camera angles poorly or cut to, or away from, a shot at the wrong time. I know such errors sometimes inadvertently expose the secret of an effect, but that brings us back to the matter of misdirection which I want to put aside for the moment. Think instead of those cases where such poor direction simply made it difficult for the audience to follow the effect. Unfortunately, this is all too common when magic is shown on TV.

You want the audience to understand what happens and appreciate how impossible it is. Your first step is to study the effect in question to decide what facts and what conditions the audience must absorb in order to understand and appreciate it. Your second step is to go through the effect and decide what piece of information each step is designed to convey. If there are any steps that serve no function in conveying information or any key piece of information that is not highlighted m any of the steps, the effect is poorly structured and needs to be reworked. Pinpoint the element in each step that conveys

,B what Henn,n6

T** ^ect. At every point you must be clear Ty^r "here you want the audience to be looking and why There n0 gaps. TTiis is vital. If there is one moment ,n the effect where you f8i| to hold and direct the audiences attention they will m £t moment, wander away hke little children in a busy department s«Te And you will have to fight very hard to get them back This i. « situation you must avoid; never let go of the audience's hand.

Tools Of Attention Control

Once you're clear in your own mind where you want the audience focused at every moment, you must select the tools to make it happen In Magic and Showmanship, Nelms observes, "The source of information is what we want the audience to watch. The center of interest is what the audience itself wants to watch. In an ideal presentation, they coincide, but this does not happen automatically." This statement frames the performer's task with beautiful simplicity. To turn the source of information into the center of interest you must use one or more of the following tools:

(1) The Performer's Interest. They look where you look. The audience will consider important whatever you treat as important. You are the audience's guide through the effect. Consequently, they will look to you for guidance as to what to pay attention to. As John Ramsay used to say, "If you want the audience to look at something, look at it yourself."

The one variant of the fundamental rule that the audience will look wherever you look occurs when you look at the audience. Naturally, they cannot look at themselves. Instead, when you look at them, they will look at you. Needless, to say this can be very useful for misdirection.

(2) Pointing. They look where you point. Sounds simple, doesn't it? It is simple but also powerful. This seems to be one of the things that separates people from animals. If you try to point something out to a dog or a cat, it will just stare intently at the tip of your finger Fortunately, people aren't that way. They can't help at least glancing at whatever you point to. This is a characteristic you can constantly exploit in your magic. .

Keep in mind that you can point, not only withyour your head or virtually any other part of your body, or with >our enure

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