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Topic: Period appropriate magic, or just period appropriate materials?
Message: Posted by: Slartibartfast (Sep 26, 2007 11:53AM)
When you do magic in a period setting, do you restrict yourself only to magic tricks that would have been done during that time period, or do you incorporate more "modern" effects but use materials that would have been around during that time period?
Message: Posted by: Payne (Sep 26, 2007 01:03PM)
I prefer to do modern effects in a period style especially since my main period gig is at a Mediaeval fair. Thus making the documentable effects I could perform rather limited.
Message: Posted by: ROBERT BLAKE (Oct 2, 2007 02:24AM)
I like to come up with effects which could be fitted into that period.
I am now trying to make an effect with Indian feathers for my western table magic.

I found color changing knives (Joe Mogar) bone & rosewood who are perfect for my style.
Message: Posted by: gsidhe (Oct 3, 2007 12:57PM)
I stick to tricks that COULD have been done during the time period. That means period materials but I don't restrict myself to known magic during that time.
Gwyd
Message: Posted by: Pokie-Poke (Oct 5, 2007 11:06PM)
I try to use period effects, but the method can be modern as no one should know this.
Message: Posted by: Big Daddy Cool (Oct 8, 2007 12:08PM)
Both.

BDC
Message: Posted by: Jaz (Oct 8, 2007 05:31PM)
I find this statement interesting.
"do you restrict yourself only to magic tricks that would have been done during that time period."

First of all it's supposed to be magic, isn't it?

I can understand using props available in certain time periods but magic is something beyond props or time.
Message: Posted by: Slartibartfast (Oct 9, 2007 11:08AM)
I suppose so. You could also say that music is music, and as long as you use a musical instrument from the time period then you should be able to play music from any time period and be period appropriate. Some reenactors would say yes, some would say no.

In reenacting, there are usually two main philosophies - the first is that anything made from materials readily available at the time is acceptable. The second is that you must be able to prove, through documentation, that not only are the materials from the time period, but that specific style/design/whatever was being used at that time.

That was the main motivation behind the question. I am not very familiar with magic in the context of reenacting and wanted to see what people smarter than I thought. It appears that, for the most part, magicians feel the same as you - that magic is timeless and being able to document that THIS magician did THIS trick at THAT time is not important.
Message: Posted by: gsidhe (Oct 9, 2007 12:27PM)
The thing to really look at are the effects themselves. They types of magic effects are pretty universal no matter what the time.
Make things disappear (People, animals, objects)
Make things Reappear (See above)
Transportation of matter
Make things float, levitate or fly (Objects or people)
Mind Reading
Matter through matter (Linking rings, coin through table, certain escapes)
Make the properties of an object change (Color, size, from one object to another, etc...)
Make inanimate objects take on lifelike attributes or move(Haunted hanks, zombie balls etc...)
Causing harm to an animal or individual, and having that harm have no effect (Head off dove, guillotines and finger choppers, needle through arm...)
All of these are classic effects, performed for thousands of years in one form or another. The methods change throughout time, but the core does not. As many shamans, wizards, charlitans and holy folk did not necessarily write down all of their possible methods, we can only guess using the knowlege we have now. I do use some modern methods in my shows, but only those that could be done with period materials.
Notice I say "could" be done with period materials. There are some exceptions I will make.
I do a gaffed needle through tongue. Traditionally, this was done with a severed sheeps tongue.
Yuck.
I allow myself the luxury of using a rubber tongue.
When my audience stops using porta johns and pees in a bucket, I'll use the sheeps tongue.
I bathe before performances too.

Besides-If an audience calls you out for using a move that wasn't invented until 1996, you probably need to practice that move more, and your audience is probably made up of entirely too many magicians.

Just m'thoughts
Gwyd
Message: Posted by: Jaz (Oct 9, 2007 12:37PM)
Hmmmm...
Meatloaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" may not work in some eras. ;)

Magic transcends reality.
Not so sure music does.

While possible in magic, I'm not suggesting that someone performing in a medieval setting produce a modern object like a television or light bulb.

Oops! Just read Gwyd's post. Pretty much my opinion too.
Message: Posted by: Pokie-Poke (Oct 9, 2007 08:48PM)
I present my magic as a show not as real magic, as such I try to present tricks that I can document. If you present it as real magic, you are free to do almost any thing as long as it looks good.
Message: Posted by: CJRichard (Oct 12, 2007 01:16PM)
This really depends on whether or not you want to acurately reproduce a show as we know it was performed in a certain time period.

When I decided to incorporate magic into my period re-enacting, I researched the magic that we know was performed in the period I portray. Using that basis, I have added in some things that may not be accurate, but are similar enough to fit.

In 1778 nobody was doing Whit Hadyn's Mongolian Pop Knot, but they were doing effects with string and rope, so I'm adding Whit's routine with just a very slight change of a few words.

I don't think that I go so far as to doctor up new obviously "magic" props for a period show. Early magic was done with what was on hand: cups, balls, eggs, string, knives, swords, sticks, bits of colored cloth, simple bags or boxes, etc. There more than enough stuff that can be done with those.
Message: Posted by: Payne (Oct 15, 2007 09:54AM)
[quote]
On 2007-10-12 14:16, CJRichard wrote:

I don't think that I go so far as to doctor up new obviously "magic" props for a period show. Early magic was done with what was on hand: cups, balls, eggs, string, knives, swords, sticks, bits of colored cloth, simple bags or boxes, etc. There more than enough stuff that can be done with those.

[/quote]

Well where's the fun in that? Doctoring up modern props is a lot of fun. I've made a "period" Grant's Comedy Egg Bag where the design for the final chicken reveal is out of the book of Kell's. I've a Medieval, Renaissance Die Box which is now a reliquary and even a period What's Next? which was written up in Aprils Silly Billy column in MAGIC. I've re-built my Deans Box in a more Victorian Style for my Poe Show and I won't even go into all the specialized props I've built for my Harry Potter show. Building Custom props is a lot of fun and I really don't understand why more magicians don't do it.
Message: Posted by: gsidhe (Oct 15, 2007 10:16AM)
I am definately with you on that Payne!
I have boxes full of bought props, but I look on stage, and all I have is the stuff I built (Or at least significantly modified) myself.
I hate anything that looks off the shelf, no matter what period I am working in.
Gwyd
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 17, 2007 03:46AM)
There is a big difference between performing as a reenactor and performing as a paid performer at a Renaissance Festival or a place like Colonial Williamsburg.

There are some reenactors that are referred to as "thread counters." These are the ones who will toss you out on your posterior if you have any fabrics that are of a type not used during the era. When I performed as Hocvs Pocvs, my costume was made from what looked like authentic wool of the period. It was actually 35% polyester. But the fibers were done up to look like the real thing. Even the most serious thread counter didn't spot it.

Let's consider for a moment the cups and balls. One fellow went through the trouble of having a company in Pakistan make "authentic leather cups as shown in early magic books." Baloney! The earliest cups shown in any magic book were made of brass or Crooked Lane plate. I sent him a drawing of an authentic cup. He had them reproduced, then, evidently did not purchase the reproductions. The irony of the situation was that this same fellow lied about the cups, saying they were a special design of his own. They were available in Germany for Ä 1.00 per cup. They were ordinary dice cups.

Could cups of this type have been used during the Renaissance? Sure. But it would have been unlikely.

My philosophy was that if an object existed during the period, somebody probably did magic with it. So, why shouldn't I? Most of the parlor props in Hoffmann's books were patterned after things that were found in better English houses. The same is true, to a certain extent, to the items in [i]Sports and Pastimes[/i].

Some magicians probably did things that they did not write up, simply because they wanted to keep them for themselves.

BTW, when you do Civil War reenactments or the like, are ALL of the musical instruments that are played there actually like the period instruments? Or do they have Asian made banjos with resonators on them and modern guitars with truss rods in the neck? If they do, them bring out your vanishing cane and to H___ with them! In that case, they are hypocrites.
Message: Posted by: Pokie-Poke (Oct 17, 2007 10:18PM)
The danger in being a "thread counter" is who are you doing it for? When working on some thing for my self I try to stick to what would be at hand for a performer of the time. It gives me a respect for those who came before me. However if it is a paid gig, it is my job to use what I can to wow them. I know some S.C.A. musicians who go as far to make their own instruments for the same reason. They would never use them at a paid gig, but for there own use and for the sake of living history.

And I'm with you all on the making your own props. If for no other reason than it's fun, and inspires me to come up with new Ideas, presentations and the like.
Message: Posted by: Philip Hilton (Oct 18, 2007 11:03AM)
I use only materials that could appear to fit the period and if possible, which are from the period. This is of course easier with some periods. In my case I do some 1940's and this is easy, as I have a pretty good collection of genuine items. Technology apart there really is very little that is really brand new. Itís the way a thing is presented in my opinion. My aim is to entertain and so I do try and fit in as much as I can.

If itís an educational show, then for me it is 100% right down to the papers I carry, which in the case of wartime Britain includes ration books, medical card, ID card etc and all filled in my name with official stamps etc. This I feel is important as my character is a time traveler and in the eyes of the children has to blend in with the past time.

But of course just because something wasn't available back then, doesn't make me leave it out of my act. In my view any magician at any time would use anything in order to reach the desired effect. So if I have a thing and it will blend in and work, well then I use it. Also the other thing which gets me, is that reenactors will walk around in genuine clothes which are in such a state that at the time they would have been thrown away. Now I wear clothes which look the part, but are clean and new. I mean if I'm supposed to have just stepped out of the 40's and look like I've slept out in fields for a month, or three, well the kids are not going to think much of me.

So for me itís a fine line. For example I wear armbands, helmet, carry gas mask, badges, torch, whistle, money, magazines, etc. which are from the period. It works for me.

Just my thoughts.
Cheers Phil
Message: Posted by: Silly Walter the Polar Bear (Oct 19, 2007 02:51PM)
When I do my "spaceman from the future" magic act, all tricks can be done since they have technically already been invented.
Message: Posted by: gsidhe (Oct 19, 2007 02:56PM)
If you do some that haven't been invented yet, make sure to bring back methods.
Of course, that would change the space time continuom, contmu, contamin...Future thingie.
And then someone would have to come back from the future to kill your mum so you wouldn't be born and cause some degree of exposure.
Not worth the risk...
Gwyd the futurephobic
Message: Posted by: ASW (Oct 19, 2007 09:23PM)
[quote]
On 2007-10-19 15:51, Silly Walter the Polar Bear wrote:
When I do my "spaceman from the future" magic act, all tricks can be done since they have technically already been invented.
[/quote]

LOL.
Message: Posted by: Michael Taggert (Oct 25, 2007 08:18PM)
I have found a penchant at the renn faires I work for people to make things look old. Excuse me Olde. My props tend to be new looking but in the style of the period. I then rely on the character to sell the rest. I do know that in Williamsburg they are seriuo thread counters and get down to the pictures on the playing cards and the mint of the coins. That's extreme! But then again that's Williamsburg. Souvenirs made in Virginia.
Message: Posted by: Maynooth (Nov 19, 2007 06:19AM)
Last year I did a church Christmas fair from biblical times. It was difficult enough trying to find effects that I felt would be used at the time, ropes, paper effects, genie in a bottle, trying to stay as true as possible.

This year they are doing pioneer Christmas and have asked me back so I think that speaks for itself.

I believe that the more "real" it is for the audience the better but most audiences are not "rivet counters' (the term used in fine scale modeling for "thread counters") and they are there to enjoy the show.

cheers
Maynooth
Message: Posted by: rickmagic1 (Dec 5, 2007 02:32PM)
LearnedPig.com.pa has several lists of Victorian-era magicians' programs. I went through those, found routines that were as close to what they did as possible. For instance, 'dying a handkerchief' was a common routine; therefore, I was justified in doing McComb's Half Dyed Hank. I also went so far as to have copper period cups made for my act...

Rick
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Dec 20, 2007 03:24PM)
[quote]
On 2007-09-26 14:03, Payne wrote:
I prefer to do modern effects in a period style especially since my main period gig is at a Mediaeval fair. Thus making the documentable effects I could perform rather limited.
[/quote]

Also, I think the sort of stuff that would have wow'ed back in the middle ages would (with a few notable exceptions) fall short with us, civilized and throughly modern, folk...
Message: Posted by: Pokie-Poke (Dec 20, 2007 10:14PM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-20 16:24, gaddy wrote:
[quote]
On 2007-09-26 14:03, Payne wrote:
I prefer to do modern effects in a period style especially since my main period gig is at a Mediaeval fair. Thus making the documentable effects I could perform rather limited.
[/quote]

Also, I think the sort of stuff that would have wow'ed back in the middle ages would (with a few notable exceptions) fall short with us, civilized and throughly modern, folk...
[/quote]

Hmmm. cups and balls, cut and restored rope, are both very easily documented, I have yet to have any problem entertaining a modern audience with them. don't even use a chop cup. (not often any way) Modern folk tend to have short attention spans which tends to make them easer to fool. but at times harder to entertain.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 20, 2007 10:56PM)
Let's get down to specifics.

I performed a chop cup routine for years at various Renaissance Festivals. Why a chop cup and not a one cup and ball routine with a straight cup? Simple. The audience (other than a few magicians) had no way of knowing what the method was.

Here's the thing. The EFFECT is what is important. If ANY trick is done correctly, the audience won't be aware of the method. So it doesn't really matter what the method is, IF THE AUDIENCE IS UNAWARE OF IT.

Basically, you need to ask yourself what the audience sees, not what you are actually doing. Does the audience need to know that your table is held together with epoxy and not hide glue? No.

Another consideration is this: ANY trick you do that comes out of the old books can be performed for a modern audience if you know how to "sell" it. Also, you can borrow items from audience members and use them in your show. Then the objects don't even have to fit the time period.
Message: Posted by: Jaz (Dec 22, 2007 03:15PM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-20 23:56, Bill Palmer wrote:

Basically, you need to ask yourself what the audience sees, not what you are actually doing. Does the audience need to know that your table is held together with epoxy and not hide glue? No.
[/quote]

I absolutely agree.
IT, loops, magnets, TTs, etc, are going to enhance the magical experience then go for it.
Message: Posted by: Steve_Mollett (Dec 22, 2007 05:15PM)
There are some reenactors that are referred to as "thread counters." These are the ones who will toss you out on your posterior if you have any fabrics that are of a type not used during the era.

In the SCA, we call those same people 'authenticity nazis.' :)
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 23, 2007 02:17PM)
There was a time when the SCA was not as concerned about authenticity as it is now. In 1978, when I took over as ED of the Texas Renaissance Festival, there were still a lot of people who wore highly inauthentic costume parts. I called the SCA together and explained to them that when you come out in a set of really good-looking full plate armor, and the spectators can see the Everlast label on your gloves and the LEE patch on your jeans, it makes you look silly.

I also explained that even though the Freemasons may have existed back then, open displays of Masonic jewelry would have been rather odd. The Masons weren't exactly welcomed with open arms by the Church. So, no high school class rings, no fraternal rings, no visible watches and no butterfly eyeglasses with rhinestones on the ends.
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Dec 23, 2007 06:21PM)
[quote]
On 2007-10-15 10:54, Payne wrote:
Well where's the fun in that? Doctoring up modern props is a lot of fun. I've made a "period" Grant's Comedy Egg Bag where the design for the final chicken reveal is out of the book of Kell's. I've a Medieval, Renaissance Die Box which is now a reliquary and even a period What's Next? which was written up in Aprils Silly Billy column in MAGIC. I've re-built my Deans Box in a more Victorian Style for my Poe Show and I won't even go into all the specialized props I've built for my Harry Potter show. Building Custom props is a lot of fun and I really don't understand why more magicians don't do it.
[/quote]

Payne- might I beg a small favor? Could you post some of your more ambitious custom jobs for us to see? I'd love to see some more of your handiwork!

G
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Dec 24, 2007 12:10AM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-20 23:14, Pokie-Poke wrote:
[quote]
On 2007-12-20 16:24, gaddy wrote:
[quote]
On 2007-09-26 14:03, Payne wrote:
I prefer to do modern effects in a period style especially since my main period gig is at a Mediaeval fair. Thus making the documentable effects I could perform rather limited.
[/quote]

Also, I think the sort of stuff that would have wow'ed back in the middle ages would (with a few notable exceptions) fall short with us, civilized and throughly modern, folk...
[/quote]

Hmmm. cups and balls, cut and restored rope, are both very easily documented, I have yet to have any problem entertaining a modern audience with them. don't even use a chop cup. (not often any way) Modern folk tend to have short attention spans which tends to make them easer to fool. but at times harder to entertain.
[/quote]

heh! well, I >did< say "with a few notable exceptions"! I've got these two items on my Ren Faire programme also!...

Gaddy
Message: Posted by: Payne (Dec 27, 2007 10:52AM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-23 19:21, gaddy wrote:

Payne- might I beg a small favor? Could you post some of your more ambitious custom jobs for us to see? I'd love to see some more of your handiwork!

G
[/quote]

This isn't one of my more ambitious projects but it is the "period" die box I use in my mediaeval act. It's been done up to resemble a reiquary.

[img]http://members.aol.com/payne/diebox.jpg[/img]

I've posted this before but you might have missed it so here it is again.
An old Grant's Rice Checkers Orange prop I reworked to match a Tayade Rice Vase I aquirred.

[img]http://members.aol.com/payne/checkers.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: gsidhe (Dec 27, 2007 02:06PM)
Those are gorgeous Payne!
Virtually unrecognisable!
I'm jealous.
Gwyd
Message: Posted by: Payne (Dec 31, 2007 04:24PM)
Some more of my props for your perusal

My mini Spirit Cabinet (Deans Box)

[img]http://members.aol.com/payne/spiritbox.jpg[/img]

My Run Dragon Run

[img]http://members.aol.com/payne/dragon.jpg[/img]

My Four Way Production box (inspired by Mad Eye Moody's box of many locks)

[img]http://members.aol.com/payne/4waybox.jpg[/img]

My Snake Basket

[img]http://members.aol.com/payne/basket.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Vick (Jan 23, 2008 09:06PM)
Very nice work Payne

A new character I'm working on Alexander Dias (Alexander in homage to Herrmann)
http://www.alexanderdiasmagic.com/

Very much influenced by the work and magic of Herrmann and Houdin
Message: Posted by: kaytracy (Feb 28, 2008 01:46AM)
With a bit of careful research, I have found a number of principles used in ages past to be easy to work with and utilized to do my story magic. I do Viking age.
I have a stone that gets slipped into fire pits. After telling my tale, often after just a few minutes, though sometimes the next morning, someone discovers that there is a deeply carved rune in a stone in the pit.
I have a Horn dropped by a Valkyrie, that pours forth mead, but only for the chosen warriors who are soon to die in battle.
I have a feather from one of Odin's ravens, and it moves when you tell it things worthy of the all-father's knowing.
In the tale of Fenja and Menja of the Grottestone, I have coins appear followed by salt from my hands.
My tale of the Gunfanni uses a box modified to allow the once white banner to transform into the Raven Gunfanni war banner heralding great victory.
I am at times a thread counter, but I try to keep that only where it matters. As Bill says, if they do not know that the item is held together by epoxy, or that the horn has a lining for sanitary reasons, but it is never seen, who can complain. I have nice period shoes and nalebinded socks, but my orthotics are tucked under a nice layer of leather so I can actually move after wearing them for more than an hour!
Kay
Message: Posted by: Levity (Nov 12, 2008 04:27PM)
My performance is decidedly early 20th Century. I use props that are either authentically old or repros in the style of the time. I dress in a 1920s-style tuxedo and use a P&L change bag, old-style die box and various other props that evoke that retro era (somewhere between Victorian and Art Nouveau/Deco). Recently I've bought some great props from Harries in Sweden--the large cylinder cabinet, for instance--which, while not being strictly of the period I appear in, is still evocative of that era with its striking lightning bolt, stunning silver-and-red cabinet and sparkly tube. Very theatrical and mysterious-looking.

Geoffrey
Message: Posted by: critter (Feb 3, 2009 02:01PM)
I would find doing 'only' period tricks to be too confining.
Not many faire coordinators would really know the difference.
Although, I do know of at least one faire that will kick out musicians who are playing even the ubiquitous six string acoustic guitars...
Message: Posted by: theadequate (Feb 12, 2009 01:22AM)
I'd go with 'period *appearing* materials' - because we are in fact Magicians and we do, by the nature of our trade, cheat outrageously when the opportunity presents itself.

Rope is rope, chain is chain, a sword is a sword (and most real historical swords would look like blunt metal oblongs after a little use) a bag hat is, well, a bag hat (why are there no change bag hats? Someone get on that one...) and a suddenly appearing 10 foot pole that *looks* like wood from 8 feet away is...

If your props are 'period neutral', none can complain if you're using a clever modern touch as my colleague Master Payne demonstrates handily.

... me, I find that if they're busy snorfing mead through their noses, they don't notice the non-period stuff quite so much.

Tobias!
for whom 'period' occurs at the end of a sentence
http://adequateblog.today.com
Message: Posted by: EricHenning (Feb 21, 2009 10:35AM)
This is a very interesting discussion. Here is my very long-winded two cents.

I know that the original question focused on props; let me say at the outset that I think the most important thing is not props, nor even costume, but SCRIPTING. In most non-reenacting venues, you can fudge the props and costumes a bit, but unless you are at a Ren Faire where they just don't care (and there are a couple where Renaissance appears to mean anything pre-Civil War), I would spend some serious time on getting the language right.

I hasten to add that doing the authentic script for the Cap & Pence from Hocus Pocus Junior will probably get you thrown out of most venues.

I began doing the Maryland Renaissance Festival in 1978, the year after it began, and dutifully went to the Library of Congress where I read an original edition of Scot's "Discoverie of Witchcraft." My act was Cut & Restored Rope, Coin productions, vanishes and transpositions, and the Cups & Balls. I was doing magic on the pathways for tips.

I learned a LOT, especially from watching the real professionals. I also figured out that the audience was much more interested in being ENTERTAINED than getting a history lesson. I came back to that Faire for several years while studying for my theatre degree. By that time, I was doing T&R paper to Mouth Coil, Egg Bag, and some wand work.

In 1995, I saw Max Howard give a lecture in Baltimore at Denny & Lee's. I finally found what I was looking for: an actor's approach to magic. I was not interested specifically in the Civil War material, but have had a lifelong fascination with late Victorian/Edwardian America.

My goal was, and always is, to do a show that would create for my audience, as much as possible, the EXPERIENCE and the FEELING that a contemporary audience would have had.

This does create some scripting problems. Fortunately, we have some scripts from the era in Hoffman's books and in Fischer's book on Hofzinser. Hoffman's scripts would, for the most part, be intolerably long-winded for today's audiences, but Hofzinser's could be adapted with little change and work very nicely today.

I was able to adapt some material for the Edgar Allan Poe Birthday in Baltimore one year, and just a couple of years ago, with encouragement from Jeff McBride, did my "Turn of the Century" act at the National Theatre in Washington, DC for their Halloween show. (They were very gracious to me and many in the audience were in full period costume.)

What I found in this process is that once you get a feeling for the rhythms, word choice, syntax and idioms of the period, you can learn to write scripts that will keep the flavor of the period while still being meaningful to today's audiences.

A word about pacing: the advent of motion pictures in the Edwardian period changed audiences forever. Instead of the leisurely parlor pace of Hoffman, we now had the frantic "trick-a-minute" vaudeville of Horace Goldin. Today we are no longer in the relaxed conversational tone of Don Alan, but instead the quick-cut MTV world of David Blaine and Criss Angel. People want us to get to magic fairly quickly, and so we have strike a balance, using as much verbiage as necessary and as little as possible. Eugene Burger has some very good techniques for this in his online article [url=http://www.magicbeard.com/view.php?id=15]"Editing Our Scripts."[/url]

I would also highly recommend Pete McCabe's excellent [url=http://www.dennymagic.com/cgi-bin/hazel.cgi?client=43320839&action=detail&item=008427]"Scripting Magic"[/url] book (and not because I'm in it; I learned a great deal from it and it should be required reading for any serious magic performer).

Oddly enough, I am now doing more street festivals and have come full circle, although my street act is not a period act in any sense of the term.

Anyway, hopefully this will help someone. Thanks for stirring up some great memories!
Message: Posted by: Levity (Feb 24, 2009 06:53PM)
Eric,

That was most enlightening and informative. Thank you.

Geoffrey
Message: Posted by: DStachowiak (Apr 20, 2009 04:37AM)
Although I know very little about the topic under discussion, I have never let that stop me before, so I am going to go ahead and make an observation here. I suspect an actual Medieval magician might have been able to make his reputation using a couple of chunks of lodestone and a lump of amber and a piece of cat fur, given the general lack of understanding of electrostatic and electromagnetic principles at the time.
Try that today and not many folks will be impressed, no matter how lovely your costume is.
The fact is, in any age, "Magic" represents the gap between what is known by the general audience and what is known by the magician/sorcerer/shaman/mountebank. That's why we all get so worked up over the "Masked Magician" giving away our secrets.
Trying to entertain a modern audience, while limiting ones self to techniques and secrets that would have been known in the period represented by one's costume, would seem to be an almost impossibly difficult task.
Ultimately, I think we have to choose between historical accuracy and entertainment. While there are certainly a number of classic tricks that play as well today as they ever did, I think some accommodation must be reached with the greater sophistication of modern audiences, as well as the differences in modern sensibilities Eric has pointed out above.
(OK, that's about two cents worth I suppose)
Message: Posted by: funsway (Apr 26, 2009 06:40AM)
After two years of performing at SCA events, both strolling and feats, I gradually shifted for "period authentic" to "period appropriate". This means I would willing use a Buddha Box because it "sorta looks period," but would never do a Sword through Neck Effect becasue such a performance would never have been done -- people didn't play with swords -- they lived with them. AT a feast I might use the corner of a table, but when strolling peformed only from "my person." A portable table is defiantely not period before the 15th century.

For me, any card trick is OUT! While there is some evidence that playing cards in some form existed prior to 1600, nothing indicates magic trickk were done with them. However, I have done the "VOID" trick which used card like placards, and use some leather swatches which employes card sleights.

So, it is not always a question of whether a given trick is Period, it is a matter of whether the props and presentation are consistent with your persona. A 13th century French nobel would NEVER do performance magic, while a traveling Jongluer propbably would have done simple sleights anywhere. Silk was not common except for the rich -- and then only for show. Is it wrong then for a serf to produce a fountain of silks? I wouldn't, but would chnage cloths. There are no SCA rules against being several different personas at the same event. Nothing is more fun than being asked if you have a brother at the event.
Message: Posted by: Payne (Apr 27, 2009 11:34AM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-26 07:40, funsway wrote:
After two years of performing at SCA events, both strolling and feats, I gradually shifted for "period authentic" to "period appropriate". This means I would willing use a Buddha Box because it "sorta looks period," but would never do a Sword through Neck Effect becasue such a performance would never have been done -- people didn't play with swords -- they lived with them. AT a feast I might use the corner of a table, but when strolling peformed only from "my person." A portable table is defiantely not period before the 15th century.
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There are descriptions and illustrations of entertainers juggling and balancing swords. There are Dances that employ them. Discoverie of Witchcraft describes several trick daggers and bodkins. so yes, they did use them for entertainment purposes so a sword through neck trick, while not exactly period is period appropriate.

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For me, any card trick is OUT! While there is some evidence that playing cards in some form existed prior to 1600, nothing indicates magic trickk were done with them. However, I have done the "VOID" trick which used card like placards, and use some leather swatches which employes card sleights.
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There is much evidence that cards existed in Europe long before 1600. They appeared around the middle of the fourteenth century and by the middle of the fifteenth were all the rage. The first book completely devoted to tricks with cards was published in the sixteenth century . so yes, card tricks are in fact period and period appropriate decks are easily found these days.

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So, it is not always a question of whether a given trick is Period, it is a matter of whether the props and presentation are consistent with your persona. A 13th century French nobel would NEVER do performance magic, while a traveling Jongluer propbably would have done simple sleights anywhere.
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There are writings in period describing nobles performing simple tricks for the amusement of their guests. I'm away from my library at the moment but I recall a concercation of rings being done by a spainish noble and a demonstration of a fore resistant cloak being shown by another noble in the fifteenth century.

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Silk was not common except for the rich -- and then only for show. Is it wrong then for a serf to produce a fountain of silks? I wouldn't, but would chnage cloths.
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Silk, while expensive, was readily available. Italy being a major producer of the fabric in the thirteenth century. It would not be a great stretch to assume that a joungleur in period might have aquired some in payment for a past performance at a noblemans feast.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Apr 27, 2009 01:12PM)
I guess I was to general in my thoughts. The "fact" that a particular material or item existence before 1600 does not mean in was common or available in every culture. Nobles in some cultures did perform magic, while in others they did not, just as knights in some cultures were required to write poetry and not in others. "Period appropriate" should apply to the performer's persona and pretended culture. Yes, a joungleur might have acquired a silk, but would never have 'many' to produce, or expect to borrow a silk from a bar maid. Picky? Maybe, but you are dealing with spectators who will insist a bow can't shoot more than 200 yards just because their favored long bow won't. If you desire is to be period appropriate then meeting that standard should be part of the fun (and research). If accuracy is not important, then it is not. I wear eye glasses -- allowed, but would take them off if my persona was pretending to be blind.

But, there are trivialities, m'lord, compared with the idea of encouraging others from attempting magic in SCA events. Some of my thoughts would only apply if they were used in a Bardic Contest. If a SCAdian wandered into my camp and did Multiplying Golf Balls I would never publically correct him -- but might take him aside and show him how to do the effect with walnuts.

I'd be interested in seeing the citations of the "card trick book" -- what culture, what language -- does it exist, or is it only referred to by later writers. The sources used to produce "period appropriate decks" also. Amazing that authories are popping up that never existed before. PM, of course. I'd love to "stand corrected" and expand my knowledge base.
Message: Posted by: Payne (Apr 27, 2009 02:39PM)
[quote]

I'd be interested in seeing the citations of the "card trick book" -- what culture, what language -- does it exist, or is it only referred to by later writers. The sources used to produce "period appropriate decks" also. Amazing that authories are popping up that never existed before. PM, of course. I'd love to "stand corrected" and expand my knowledge base.

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A facsimile edition of the book was published last year by Gibeciere magazine and is available for purchase here

http://www.conjuringarts.org/store/gibeciere.html

It was originally published in Venice Italy

The period appropriate cards I use are the 1864 Poker Deck

http://www.tridentcards.com/Historical+Playing+Cards/Civil+War/1864+Poker+Deck.html

They ar square cornered with no indices and single ended court cards and the patterns are virtually indentical to many 15th centhury decks I have seen.

And yes many :authorities" are popping up these days as finally manuscripts in languages other than English and French are finally being translated
Message: Posted by: funsway (Apr 27, 2009 04:45PM)
Thanks for the reference -- wish it were affordable. I note, however, theat the claim of "numerous performers in the late 16th Century" is offered by the publisher -- not from the book itself. It claims from the book, "Here for the first time is the explanation of what became the famous 21 card trick." That scarcely proves these sleights were common until sometime after the book was read and studied. These cards are neat and would be acceptable by most SCAdians -- I noticed there are no 16th century decks offered.

The problem is similar to that of the concept of "Chivalry" as depicted in Ivanhoe. It did not exist in the 12-13th centuries as depicted, but is an invention of 15th century fictional writers and Hollywood. Alledged heros like Richard the Lionhearted was actual a cruel, vain oppressor of many peoplese, executed thousands of CHristians just to set examples for Saladin, and never spend more than three years in England in his entire life. Yet you will find "authorities" who speak of Chivalry and the "Knight's Code" etc. as if it actually existed. An examination of history will show that knights actually behaved with little honor or respect for any code other than allegiance to their liege Lord. The CHildrens Crusade is a good example, where knights imprisoned children placed in their care and sold them into slavery.

So, this evidence does not prove that magcians did card tricks in the 16ht century, only that later writers say they did. Instead, we have Church records of magicians being prosecuted for various type of 'magical tricks', but cards ar enever mentioned. Cards for gambling, yes -- and I am sure some clever person found ways of doing tricks wiht them -- but hardly representative of "Medieval magic" as an art.

This is why I said that "for me" -- card tricks are not Period. If someone at an event ever said, "Oh, you are a magician. Know any good card tricks?" I would say, "I perform common tricks of the period."

Enjoying this, though. Thanks.
Message: Posted by: Payne (Apr 27, 2009 05:57PM)
Since the author of the book in question is writing about various card tricks that were being performed at the time. It is safe to assume that yes, card tricks were being performed in Europe by the end of the 16th century. This was not a book of "New Tricks" to fool your friends but a description of tricks the author had seen.

We have two early written records of card tricks being performed The first, a 15th century piece of writing which describes a card trick performed by Giovanni de Jasone de Ferara; the second a 16th century piece by Cardanus describing a performance by a Spanish magician by the name of Dalmau who performed for Emperor Charles V in Milan.

Scott's Discoverie of Witchcraft published in 1584 has several card tricks described in it as well. So there is plenty of evidence that card tricks were being performed by magicians in the middle ages.

Also they are not "later writers" but writers in period making their writing primary evidence that card tricks were being performed.

I would also like for you to site me a serious historian whose written in the last 50 years about chivalry who purports it to be as described in Ivanhoe. The works you are referring to I'll wager were all written in the 19th or early 20th century.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Apr 27, 2009 06:27PM)
Ivanhoe was used by some of the founders of SCA as a model of their game playing -- back when. Just ask any of them. The entire SCA model of conduct is based on fiction -- which is OK -- it is a game, after all.

Thnaks for the references -- now I have something to search for.

Folks have done a lot of 'reverse engineering' for SCA appropriate stuff -- "IF I can figure it out they must have done it back when." I do ring on Rope stuff with confidence that that kind of effect was 'lofical' for the period. I don't need proof. You don't need further proof that Cards are OK. I'm not going to do any card tricks when at SCA events becasue I don't think they represent "period magic".

Since the goal here is to possib;y encourge others to try magic at SCA/RenFair Events, why don't we shift to something supportive of that end. Happy to continue PM -- think it's of littel value here.
Message: Posted by: Payne (Apr 27, 2009 10:41PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-27 19:27, funsway wrote:

Folks have done a lot of 'reverse engineering' for SCA appropriate stuff -- "IF I can figure it out they must have done it back when." I do ring on Rope stuff with confidence that that kind of effect was 'lofical' for the period. I don't need proof. You don't need further proof that Cards are OK. I'm not going to do any card tricks when at SCA events becasue I don't think they represent "period magic".

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It's precisely this type of muddled thinking that was a partial contributer for me leaving the SCA.

There's a reason the SCA is at the bottom rung of nearly every serious historical re-enactors list. It can be a fun group and has much to offer those willing to participate but it's reproduction of history is tenuous at best. But then that's what the big A in SCA is for. Unfortunately some of its members forget that and try to pass themselves off as experts in history simply because they dress up in funny clothes and hang out in the woods so they can hit each other with sticks :)
Message: Posted by: funsway (Apr 28, 2009 05:48AM)
But, SCA has never pretended to be "re-enactors," so you can't lay the blame there. Within the 'game' people have used the setting and excitement to further their own personal beliefs and egoic enhancement. That is a problem of any theme setting, even organized religion or your local service club. We become enpassioned over an idea and want more information, only to find that our history books have been lying to us. We should be doing magic at events because we enjoy it -- just like singing, story telling or juggling. We have willing 'victims' at a Bardic Fire or stolling down Merchant Row. Any problem comes from trying to make of the weekend soemthing it is not.

It would be easier to blame the Internet, which makes shallow research simple and serious research difficult. "Negative inference" often substitutes for rational justification -- one reason I got off most SCA websites. I don't like to teach Jr College any more either, because students are allowed to submit papers and reports base only on "the Internet said so." Sigh.

So, for aspirents to magacial performers at SCA and RenFaire events, I think we can agree on:

Don't take it too seriously

Enjoy the excitment of the audience while playing a "sort of period" game

do some 'reasonable research' to be consistent with your persona

don't argue with people with swords

............................................

now, does anyone have an interesting SCA performance success story to share?
Message: Posted by: Payne (May 1, 2009 01:30PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-28 06:48, funsway wrote:

now, does anyone have an interesting SCA performance success story to share?

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I was nearly given an AA at my second event for entertaining the Princes children and was elevated to the Order of the Laurel 5 years later for my outstanding contributions to the arts in my performance of magic.
Message: Posted by: critter (May 1, 2009 01:43PM)
I don't like AA. My mom's boyfriend went and he's still a drunk.
Message: Posted by: DStachowiak (May 2, 2009 03:33PM)
I was going to say something here but I changed my mind.
Message: Posted by: malaki (Oct 20, 2017 02:28PM)
I think that the main thing that SCA members tend to forget is the C, or "Creative". Why not take what historical information you can find, and use it to your advantage? It will force you to rework your routines to come up with something that, if not new, is at least a creative approach.

Silk was first invented in c. 2525 BCE. In the time since, silk became the cloth of kings, then of the nobles, then of the gentry. What we, as magicians, use are basically the scraps that were left over from clothing that was made. I see no reason why a magician could have been a friend of a seamstress or tailor who would give him the scraps could not be used. Therefore, a silk fountain sort of effect could have been presented, using these scraps. Positive evidence for the existence of this effect is missing, but we do know how magicians like to scrounge for what they need. Why would the magicians of the Middle Ages not have done the same?

Other period effects that have been published will not play well for a modern audience, even one that "recreates" history. Cutting off one's nose or finger simply will not be tolerated by a modern audience outside of those who like what is now often called "geek magic". I started to make my own set of the knives illustrated in these early books, but then realized that no one would want to see this anyway, regardless of the authenticity of the effect.

The Laurels in Ansteorra seemed to be more interested in learning the methods of my effects than the presentation itself. When presented with documentation, they had nothing but criticism for the very book that the Oklahoma Library system hailed as a "landmark publication on the subject".