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Topic: A Magical Play in a Theater, where to start?
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Mar 28, 2014 10:07PM)
For many years I have had an idea for a magical play performed on stage in a theater. The setting is a living room, the magicians comes home after his shows for the evening and everything that happens is a magic effect. His wife dressed like a sloppy housewife yells things from the wings. It is a comedy with real life events. Several very old illusions like the 3 fold screen and Grandfather Clock. The wife makes a magical appearance, and later transforms into a beautiful woman. That will be no trick, but a good make-up job. (joke so you can laugh)

What I need is some insight for a script. Where would one start to create a humorous script.

David Copperfield went through a period where he had several television specials where his storyline was about his family. They were very bad mainly because he did not tell the television audience that these were skits and not true to his life. I believe his main fault was not introducing them as short stories or skits, and he would be a different character then David Copperfield. Whatever, they were confusing and very heart felt, but did not come off as a playlet or a magic show performance.

The illusionist members would have more insight on this type of theme then anyone, so that is why I am asking the experts here on The Magic Café. I have drawn and designed the stage setting and chosen the tricks. Now the real work has to begin. That was the easy part.
Message: Posted by: chill (Mar 29, 2014 07:29AM)
Where? "The setting is a living room"
when? "after his shows for the evening"
how? (your list of illusions goes here)

the "what" and the "why" are missing
"It is a comedy with real life events"

What is the story you want to tell? Which life events?
start stringing the events together, look for commonality to plot them and carry the story.
the illusions you've chosen all have an effect. why does that effect(illusion)happen in the show? did his shows go well?...did he get a hare stuck in his nose? why is she dressed like that and what is she yelling about? did his rabbit leave pellets on the floor again? why does she transform? are they going out? is she going alone? is she leaving him for the rabbit?

sounds like a good show idea.
Message: Posted by: Servante (Mar 29, 2014 11:08AM)
You have to know what each character wants, and what s/he is willing to do to get it, otherwise they're cardboard figures.
And your characters had to have changed in some way by the end of the play. Insight or revelation or something.
There should be something in the way of your main character achieving his goal, so that he can win out over it.
Those are some of the main things.

Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Mar 29, 2014 12:31PM)
A long time ago we did a magical play at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, using the kids in the local magic club. We started out by deciding it was going to be set in a city street and everyone who walked across would do an effect. From there we created several characters (a bum, a drunk, and so forth), and then came up with effects that would be in character for them. We designed and painted a streetscape set (this was before I decided to go into set design), and used "Slaugher on Tenth Avenue" as the background music.

The fun part was getting the kids to do their effects in character. One of them played a drunk and did the multiplying billiard balls, and by the time the director and I were done with him, he did really well.

I'd say you have the start of a story, but I think the character needs more definition, i.e., what kind of magician is he, how late is it, is the next day a work day or a day off, how does his wife feel about his work, and so forth. IOW, who is this guy? And, as noted above, you need to define what he wants so we can watch him go after it (that's what makes a story), how he goes after it (which is what makes it a drama, comedy, farce, etc.), and either get it or fail at the end.

For instance, just off the top of my head, he gets home and just wants to relax and watch some TV. Maybe he taped a game earlier in the day. But the remote keeps disappearing, his drink does something, the cushion starts floating, and so forth. He can't focus on the game because all this stuff keeps happening -- all these problems keep coming up. How does he respond to it? The story is about how he solves each problem and whether he finally watches the game or throws in the towel.

To give it a bit more oomph, maybe he gets home and we can see he's tired of being a magician. It's a job, but there's no joy in it. He drops his suitcase on the floor, drops his white tie and vest on the couch, takes a deep sigh, and then hs face lights up when he goes for the remote and the game comes up. Now he's doing what he wants. And that's where the problems begin.

Go for it, Bill. Keep us posted!
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Mar 29, 2014 01:41PM)
I see it as being more interaction with the wife. All the magic happens very naturally because he is a magician.

Like, he picks up a newspaper, says something this thing only has bad news in it. Tears it up. The wife just yells from the kitchen, honey, you seen the newspaper, yes, I haven't gone through it for the coupons yet. Shock - trouble - on magicians face. Restore newspaper, as the wife appears and hands her the newspaper.

Who, what, where, how and why are questions that must be answered in order to sell something. This is a play not a sales pitch.
Message: Posted by: AllAboutMagic (Mar 29, 2014 02:32PM)
LOL!!!!! This is not a sales pitch!!! That's your reply to someone who legitimately wrote a post offering sincere advice? How about a typical Hedgbli post.....Um.....have you searched the Café for magical theater, this topic has been discussed here before. Have you read any books on script writing, or are you just looking for easy way out by asking us here? When do you plan on performing this show? Shows like this take years to out together and it sounds like you are just starting pre-production, I hope you don't plan on doing this production for a least two years to allow for rehearsals, casting, ect. ;)

So, how close did I get? I thought I nailed my impersonation head on! :-)
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Mar 29, 2014 02:42PM)
As all of you know, I am clearly not a writer, so where would someone look for a theatrical playwright who could write a Broadway type comedy play. The alternative would be to take a written play already and tweak it to this type of scenario.

Of course the magician is a famous magician, that does a magic act. He is not a children's entertainer, but someone more like the a sophisticated magician who wears tails. Highly paid, sort of a cross between Channing Pollack or The Great Tomsoni aka Johnny Thompson.

I see it as a one act play with lots of funny lines between the characters. Creative writing has always been my weak point, what to say. I don't think most of the comedy sitcoms on televisions are funny. Although Greg Ferguson is, how he brings line around to refer to something he said earlier in his monolog.
Message: Posted by: Mike Thornton (Mar 29, 2014 05:41PM)
Right on AllAboutMagic, Bill can dish it out but he sure can't take it. He's always very insulting in his comments to guests on the Café. Likes to insinuate they need help or need to see a doctor if he does not agree with you.