mance where each effect seems to be executed effortlessly when something goes wrong that they're reminded of the u 0nly performer is continually taking. That is why the Failu/ 8 the discussed under Situational Meaning may also be exploited*? effects pense. In fact, all effects possessing strong situational meanin* SUS~ possess potential for developing conflict-uncertainty suspense ? 3180 In Failure effects, the uncertainty arises from the question of whetb the performer will be able to overcome his problem. It is the f moments before that question is answered that can be exploited f* suspense.

Consider Dai Vernon's "Cutting the Aces." The effect ends with the performer attempting to cut to the final ace and arriving instead at spot card. The performer uses the number of spots on the card to indicate how many cards he should count down. If the card is a six he counts down to the sixth card from the top of the deck and arrives at the final ace. This is a classic Failure situation. When the audience sees the six they think the performer has failed. However, he soon turns that apparent failure into an impressive success. To milk this situation, when you cut the last time, turn the card toward the audience and proclaim it to be the ace without looking at it. All this time that the audience is aware of your failure and you're not, the suspense is building. They're thinking, "How will he take it when he finds out he messed up?" When you finally look at the card, pause for a few moments as if stunned and unsure how to proceed. This provides more time for the uncertainty suspense to build. Finally, the suspense is resolved when you count down to the ace. The technique of making the audience aware of the menace before the protagonist becomes aware has been employed in some of the most suspenseful scenes in film history. In The Cat and the Canary, the audience sees the claw-like hand reaching out from behind the sliding panel in the wall and groping toward the heroine long before she does. In the shower scene from Psycho, the audience sees the menacing silhouette behind the shower curtain while the heroine is still blithely unaware of her danger.

In The Phantom of the Opera, when the heroine unmasks the phantom, his face is turned away from her but toward the camera. Even as they are horrified by his disfigured face, the audience has time to wonder how the heroine will react when he turns around to face her. Once again we see that the dramatic elements that work in magic are the same that work in any narrative art.


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omething, an audience expects you to finish it. If you you sta:rt s away> a certain amount of tension will be created gpish »t ng i ____linrtfo nntirmnfps t.ViP rnnMiio;^ »1____i.

the audience anticipates the conclusion they've Ztil y°u d° "cUt's like the proverbial case of waiting for the other been led to exp • ,g what the third form of suspense is all about. In shoe to dr°P- 1 t HillSi "The most obvious way to create it, is by the words ot goinething is going to happen, then putting it off." simply say"lg appiication of this idea in magic is the old gag where The m°si announces that something magical will happen on the the magfc»n He begins to count slowly. Then, just before the count count of three- ^ ¿eiiver some gag or on some other pretext, after of three he st^p ^ ^^ ^ oyer again which he begins tne Eb^»« ---------

The Second-Shoe Technique: There are, however, far more sophisticated and potent examples of tension-anticipation suspense in magic. Consider "McDonald's Aces." The performer deals four packets, each containing one ace and three other cards. One of the packets is placed under a spectator's hand. The performer then announces that he will make the other three aces change places with the indifferent cards in the spectator's packet. One-by-one, each ace is seen to change into an indifferent card.

Apparently the performer is keeping his promise. However, only one half of the miracle is shown each time. They see that the ace has changed into an indifferent card but they do not get to see whether an indifferent card under the spectator's hand has changed to an ace. (And, after all, that is the most amazing aspect of the transposition.) Leaving each transposition unfinished creates more and more tension and consequently more and more anticipation for the final revelation in which the cards under the spectator's hand are all shown to be aces. This is why "McDonald's Aces" offers potential for a tremendous suspense buildup that cannot be attained in a "slow-motion ace assembly" in which the arrival of each ace in the leader packet is shown each time before proceeding to the next ace. The suspense of "McDonald's Aces" is not of the mystery-curiosity variety; the audience knows from the outset how the effect is supposed to end. It's not of the conflict-uncertainty variety; there is no conflict and, if you've preceded the effect with other strong magic here should be no uncertainty in the audience's mind about whether you 11 succeed. In fact, in my presentation, after the packet has been Paced under the spectator's hand I explain to the spectator what is 8 wg to happen and ask her, "Do you think I can do it?' Almost

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