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Topic: What are some pointers when putting together a manip. act
Message: Posted by: EvanMagic (Sep 7, 2005 12:13PM)

Just for the benefit for me and others, what are some things to keep in mind when forming a manipulation act?

Any advice from yourself, or what you got from judges in competition is greatly appreciated.


Message: Posted by: bcookmagic (Sep 7, 2005 01:29PM)
Hey there Evan, I would have to say one of the biggest things is being original. There are many bird acts out there but a few stand out among the rest because they put an orginal twist.I want to be clear that you can still use all of the stadard props out there but try using them in a way that isn't standard. Good Luck
Message: Posted by: DerekMerdinyan (Sep 7, 2005 05:29PM)
Make sure the effects "flow"

Start with a piece of paper, fold it into a bird and change it into a real bird. The bird is then thrown into the air and changed to a silk. Change the silk into a ball. Perform a billiard ball routine. Take one of the balls and change it into a silk. Make the silk split into two, produce a bird cage from underneath.

That is generic and not original like Brian said above, but I just wanted to give you an example of how effects should flow together.

Another tip. If you use a candle and want to light it, DO NOT USE A LIGHTER TO LIGHT IT! If you can make all this other stuff appear, surely you could light a candle with magic too!

Derek Merdinyan
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Sep 7, 2005 06:38PM)
I would like to share with you an old post and article I wrote a while back when another magician asked the same question. I hope it may be of help to you and might inspire you to see your manipulative act in new ways never seen before. To open up your mind to knowing there is so much out there that can be done other then the obvious. I hope this may help you and others.

How do you keep a manipulative act creative and different and why is it not the best to just do an act of pure skill alone. Below is my answer to these questions along with some tips on what has worked for me in regards to ways anyone can make their own acts more creative and therefore connect better with the audience and gather more response and applause along with it.

My first question to anyone putting an act together may seem a bit strange or sound like I am being too harsh, but read on and I think you will see what I am referring to. Some of these tips relate to manipulative magic, but the tips can be used for any type of an act. My big question to you is: WHY!!!!!

I told you that it may seem a bit strange, but let me go on now to tell you about what I am referring to. To a magician, we are fascinated with cards and flourishes and vanishes and anything related to manipulation. It amazes us by the technique and the method and skill involved in doing the executions of the routines. This alone keeps us striving to learn more and peaks our interest and curiosity.

However, this is often NOT the case with a lay audience. A lay audience does not see manipulative magic in the same way we do. They do not understand the techniques and skills involved and nor should they if what we are doing is supposed to be magical. With this in mind, the audience often will say to themselves... "WHY". Why is this magician doing the same thing over and over again.

Why? Because the magician knows he is doing different vanishes and each one is slightly unique. However the audience only knows that the card vanishes, the card returned and now your doing it again. This is why an act of manipulation is very hard to do well if your doing it for 7-8 mins in a normal act time. You do not want your audience ever going "Why" at any time in the routine.

So how do you work around this problem of boring your audience to tears? Well that is where research and creativity comes into the picture. It gets back to the point that in a manipulative act you must give the audience "more". It is not good enough to simply show an 8 minute act of pure skill alone doing moves that appear the same to any audience.

So how do you give your audience more? Well you can give them more through the use of themes, character, style, pacing, transition effects and emotional response to just name a few. Let me go on to talk very briefly about each of these I just mentioned. Each could be an article all in itself but I will just give you my tips on each one for now in hopes you can grasps what I am referring to.

- Themes: You can give more to your audience in any manipulative act if you simply add in a theme to the act you are doing. This can be a generalized theme in regards to the objects all relating that you are manipulating, or the act itself can be themed around a storyline. In this way you are performing a small 8 min play that just so happens to have magic in it. The audience can relate to the themed objects or the story and get more involved with your act and with you.

- Character: Every act you do should have a strong character present on stage. The audience needs to be able to connect with this character. If you can connect the audience with you, then they become more attached to you and can relate to what you are doing on stage. Ask yourself if your character is suave, comical, athletic, hip, sad, down on his luck. Each of these can become a strong character that can be conveyed in your stage movement and even your music.

- Style: With style, I mean the way you move on stage and the way you conduct and hold yourself throughout the act. It is something that must be learned over time. It is those little things that make a huge difference to an audience liking you or not. It can be the way you pause at the right moment and look at the audience and wink right before a big production. It could be the way you move and look and smile at the audience as if saying thank you without moving your mouth at all.

- Pacing: The way you pace and time your act can make a world of difference to an audience. In many manipulative acts, the audience is being barraged with too much visual input. They can not follow it all the time and so start shutting themselves down from even watching what it is you are doing. You must pace your act and place in it pauses that give the audience a chance to catch up, breathe a bit and give them a chance to applaude you before going into the next sequence.

- Transition effects: These are the simple things you can place into your act that changes it up a bit and ads so called "spice" to the act. It gives your audience something more to watch and breaks up the act from being too repetitive.
For example: You could be doing a billiard ball act. You do a few vanishes and produce the ball. The ball gets tossed up and as you catch it it turns into a white silk. You do a knots of silk effect and the not becomes the ball again. In this way the ball to silk becomes a transition effect that gives your audience something more to be interested in.

- Emotional Response: This is a HUGE one and can work so wonderful if done well. If done right it can make your audience connect with you long after you have left the stage. It is causing an emotional response in your audiences by allowing them to connect and relate to your character and the predicament presented on the stage. It can also work closely in with the theme you are presenting.

Every person in your audience has experienced something in common. What is common to us all is emotions. We have all felt fear, love, confusion and happiness. These are common to every person know matter who you are performing for. So if you can connect with them on one or more of these emotions, you can get that audience member to really relate to you because they are remembering a similar situation when they too had that exact same emotion or situation happen to them. they can relate.

For example, your manipulative act could be all about this guy at night who is just trying to reach a bus to get home. It is late and he misses his bus and the entire world seems to be passing him buy. He sits on a bench to wait for the next bus and turns on his radio. He drifts off to sleep only to awake moments later. He realizes that magic starts happening to him even though he does not know exactly why it is. Through out the act the magic that happens to him causes him to smile and to realize that life is full of wonder even if we may not always see it.

Now this is just a very vague example but you can see how the entire act could be a manipulative routine but now you are relating to them a story of a very well defined character with a well defined theme. You give them an emotional response to the act because most can relate to being in a similar situation in their own life. In this way they relate better to what you are doing on stage.

Now these ideas are not meant to be the bible for a great act by any means. They are simply some of my own understandings on what I have experienced that has really worked not only for myself but to other acts that have really "made it." They are meant only to be reviewed and given some thought to. Take even one thing from them and I think you will see your act reaching your audiences in a whole different light.

So I simply ask you to ask yourself. WHY?

Message: Posted by: ufo (Sep 7, 2005 10:14PM)
Amen to all the above. My two cents is simple...in one way or another: plot points. Also watch the silent work to make sure you are communicating what you are doing. If you wish to work silent you may want to study some (a little wont kill you, you know) mime. Tony Montanaro's book and videos are quite excellent: Mime Spoken Here.
I see many silent manip acts that defy understanding of the actions being made. Seek for clarity in actions, flow and logic in progression of effects and any kind of plot point to wrap it all up in the end. Good luck!
Message: Posted by: yanyak5 (Sep 8, 2005 07:14AM)
I was gonna' say "Talk to Kyle" But he already jumped on it :o)
Message: Posted by: icentertainment (Sep 8, 2005 12:22PM)
Do what you do well.

this is important

don't do a manip act if you know 2 moves with the thimble, and 3 card moves and somehow join them together.

My manip act is only part of the show

I open with some juggling feats with cocktails and then move into Card Manipulations and then the diminishing cards

My show is Cocktails & Card Tricks so this fits.-

But the manips and my facial expressions (when doing the Diminishing cards) goes with the rest of my stage show- I do talking comedy bits but the style I use and the persona I use in card manips is the same persona as the rest of my act.

Don't do Jeff McBride Commando card manips and then move into Tom Mullica Comedy Magic- It's too large a contrast to work.
Message: Posted by: kregg (Sep 8, 2005 01:47PM)
The magic is always secondary to the magician. If they look at your face, into your eyes, the hands will get away with a lot more.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Sep 8, 2005 06:36PM)

Thanks for the kind words. I do appreciate that. I will be down your way this weekend as welkl as next weekend incase you get a chance and want to hang out and see a great few festivals and out show. Let me know if you are interested. It would be great to meet you in person.

I think the problem that is often the case whether you are doing a manip act or an act in a bigger show is the fact that most manipulators tend to be too repetitive without putting in proper pauses and transitional effects.

Keep in mind, that we magicians and manipulators, LOVE and often fal in love with our various moves that we know and we can do. We have this sense of having to show them everything just because we CAN. This is a bad habit to fall into because you are then performing for yourself instead of performing for the audience.

You must resist the temptation of trying to do everything. Use the skills you learned and the moves as tools to create a compelling theatrical moment for your audiences. Be creative and think outside of the box. Know that often a vanbish of a card is a vanish of a card no matter what way you really do it. To the audience, a lot of our moves look the same to them.

What I tend to work on is various ways in which I can add in "layers" to my manipulative performances to give the audience something more to grab ahold of and enjoy rather then JUST skill alone. It works for me.

Message: Posted by: icentertainment (Sep 9, 2005 12:03PM)
For the record:
My card moves that I use in my show

split fans
the occasional Perfect production (if I run into trouble)
The pivot
Packet vanishes
Cards from the mouth
1 & 2 handed fans
top palming
and springing 1/2 the cards into the champagne bucket

A couple of floarishes here and there if for some strange reason I miss something and have to improvise on the spot as it's all cued to music.

Watch the McBride tapes- he has some really good advice on setting up a manip act and says don't use every card skill you know.
Message: Posted by: carbone1853 (Sep 11, 2005 11:31PM)
Since the question is about putting together a manipulation act, here is my advice:

Don’t try to do it all a once. Put the moves and flourishes into your existing show and see how they work. For instance you can take our a deck of cards to do your favorite card trick and “accidentally” find some card fans around the stage. Once you get one or two moves/flourishes into the show you can start to answer some questions like: Do you like doing them? Do they get a big reaction form the audience? How can you get in and out of them? Can I do them under presser as well as in my bedroom? Once your satisfied go on to the next moves.
Message: Posted by: yanyak5 (Sep 12, 2005 10:58AM)
I am in WV now studying for my degree in communications, but hope someday to meet you!

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Sep 12, 2005 05:27PM)

Good luck with your studies. Let me know if you are ever in the general Philadelphia area. I would love to meet up sometime to talk magic or see each other perform etc. It would be a blast for sure.

I am excited that this Thursday night I am doing a mini lecture and workshop on card manipulation and routining for a local SAM assembly. I sort of got volunteered to do this, but it should be fun and a great way to share some information with others and learn in the process. If anyone is around the Philly area this Thursday night, let me know and I can give you information.

I am really hoping to make it my goal to not just teach technique but to reach out to some and try to grasp the importance of creating a manip act that is so much more then just skill alone. We will see what happens.

Message: Posted by: magicurt (Sep 26, 2005 11:24PM)
What great line of throughts. These hit far beyond manipulation. It just seems so much more important when you don't speak. Grat advice across the board.

Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Sep 27, 2005 01:32PM)
Be entertaining.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Sep 27, 2005 01:59PM)
Thanks Curt for the kind words. there has been a lot of great information shared here and I hope people will read them as you have and gain some insight on how to make their own manipulative acts more entertaining for their audiences.

Pete is exactly right. It all comes down to entertainment value. Just becuase you know 150 ways to vanish a card, does not mean your audience wants to see every one of them and nor should you feel you have to do them all.

Message: Posted by: Matt Kap (Sep 28, 2005 10:23PM)
Follow Jeff McBride's advice. Do one thing perfect. Make one effect your own and perfect it and stylize it to death. Then you will be known as the magician who can.........in his show.