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Caleb Strange
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'That trick would take on an entirely different meaning if you gave the volunteer a pen and asked them to wish for toys and stuff.'

Jon,

Is this what you mean? The volunteer writes a wishes on a piece of paper, and those wishes take flight.

This would be nice one to one, but before a larger audience, there's the problem of what is more generally perceived.

Not sure what what you meant.
-- QCiC --
Jonathan Townsend
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Exactly Caleb.

All that stuff parents do for kids... sit on Santa's lap and wish for toys.
Put a tooth under the pillow...

Be child for a moment again experience the magic Smile

-jt
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Caleb Strange
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Jon,

One on one I like the modus operandi of Slydini's routine, but I'm uncomfortable with his presentation in 'Stars of Magic', for the following reasons:

1) I'm not keen about isolating one person from the rest of the audience to poke so much fun at him/her - this is a gracious volunteer, who has offered to help you in good faith; also, such people are usually thin on the ground once they've seen you humiliate one member of the audience. Such teasing/mocking is not always undesirable, but, as with sucker tricks, one risks alienating the entire audience. ('We're laughing at this chump because s/he doesn't see/know what we do, just as I'm smugly laughing at all of you ignoramuses during the rest of my act', could be the inference here.)

2) I'm not sure where the experience of magic is? Not in the audience, however heartily they may be entertained (or thanking God that it's not them up there). And when I performed this, much as is, in my murky past, I seem to remember that my volunteers were baffled and confused more than anything else. ('Why's everyone laughing when that ball vanishes?')

One on one may be the way to go, but I'll have a stab at a group presentation in a day or two.

Regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
Jonathan Townsend
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Things that appear magical in the minds of children are often merely chores to adults.

Step over here and imagine you were younger. Remember when you believed that...

Inside the magic circle with the chair at center is the world as we experienced it as children.

Hmmm perhaps I should have stated that premise explicitly at the start?
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Jaz
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I agree with Caleb that one on one would be better.
The trick, done in front of an audience, was never magic to my thinking and it can seem that you are making a fool of the assistant.
montz
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I think you can perform it without that feeling... how about a finish that turns the tables on the rest of the audience? A random idea, (wicked thread Caleb by the way) but the audience sees the balls flying over the head of a spectator on stage. You let them in on the joke, pick up the four or five balls, and vanish them.

Everyone is directed to look under their seats, and your guests all find a paper ball under their chair!

That's just a random idea, but one that demonstrates what I think this effect needs... something to take the sting from the audience member on stage, and fool the rest of the audience.
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Caleb,

As always, an interesting choice. I had an odd thought while reading this--suppose one were to do a standard "Three Pellet test" you know, a one-ahead, or "mental epic" to use dealerspeak. You make a prediction, the voulunteer states his choice. You crumple the prediction into a ball, and vanish it. Repeat three times, then reveal the location of the balls, and that your predictions were each only slightly off. (and you seem therefore psychic, but compulsive)

There are others who have addressed the problem of the embarased spectator. Certainly it's possible to take the sting out and make the "victim" feel good about the experience, see the terrific little speech Mike Finney uses to become instantly charming and ingratiating after his rope routine.

Danny Korem's approach was to use two spectators, on to the right, and one to the left. The balls vanished over the head of the guy on the right. He then vanished a ball for the guy on the left, but it went cleanly. Note: Mr. Right thinks everyone's seeing the same trick. Mr. Left is doubly confused. Interesting dynamic, and it reminds the audience that they can be fooled just as easily as the guy on stage.

Legend has it that Michael Ammar has spent hours and hours on these issues. One of his solutions was to make the onstage spectator feel like he's in on the gag. In one realization of this concept, he envisioned vanishing a ball, and then showing the spectator that the ball's "not up this sleeve, not up this sleeve," and then, opening his coat so that only the "victim" could see, there would be a paper ball hanging on a thread. The "victim" would be coached to say nothing about it. He would think he's fooling them. Each time a ball would disappear, there would be another ball hanging in the jacket. Devious.

I've also worked up, but never performed, a version of this trick using balls made from Duct tape. The fun never stops, because these balls can be stuck anywhere. You can leave them on the spectator, on yourself, or on the wall behind the spectator.

For the more Bizarre, I have the beginning of a presentation taht shows, by way of this trick, that faith and skepticism can sometimes lead to the same wrong conclusion. (i.e. no matter whether you believe I can make the ball disappear, or if you believe I must hide it somewhere, you can't explain the magical experience.)

Enough. I await the gems from your mine.
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Jaz
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Paper Balls

The guru listened to the man's tale of woe and of the burdens he felt he had to carry in life.
The guru took up holy text and read a page about (a holy figure's problems) and tore out the page.

(In the routine it's just paper and paper is slowly crumpled.)

"This man had burdens to carry but through his faith his burdens soon vanished."

(Repeat a couple of times with a larger paper and another burdened holy figure.)

"So when you feel that the weight of the word on your shoulders, (big paper ball) look to skies and forests, children at play and the beauty that life is, shrug your shoulders and smile.
Time and love heals all.
Caleb Strange
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Liam, I like that vanish/reappear under the seats idea, especially if you l**d the balls during the event – at the dinner table, say, during the meal, under plates/cups. Also, you’ve prompted an idea, which will see my descending to the blissful coolness of my subterranean library/study – hot today in Manchester! – to work on something new. Hope to post it, and another presentation, sometime over the weekend.

Jaz, I like that presentation very much. Thanks for sharing. Showing that a sense of humour is connected to our sense of magic is beautiful and profound: both these experiences are rooted in our sense of the rightness of things.

Curtis, that’s a wonderfully informative post. Thank you so much. You’ve reminded me that Paul Daniel’s took the sting out of his paper balls by including it in his presentation of the ‘Electric Chairs’ – everyone was mystified by something, the volunteer’s situation was more evenly balanced, and Daniels had an excuse to count to three.

Regards,

Caleb Strange.


‘And they all lived...’

(You are at a dinner party. And, as you stand up from the table, you remove and unfold, from your wallet, a child’s picture. It is a charming, naive image of a fairytale castle, with a king and queen holding hands, standing underneath and to the side. And there is also a little princess, and a brave and bright-eyed prince. You politely obtain a volunteer, who remains seated, and then you begin:)

‘Once upon a time, when I was a child, my home seemed like a castle to me, and my mum and dad... a queen and king.’
(You have been pointing to the relevant parts of the picture as you said this:)
‘That’s my sister, the princess. And this handsome fellow is his brave and royal highness ME! – a little prince. And, for many years, all was good in our kingdom: the world was full of magic, and life was a great adventure.’
(You smile.)
‘Now, I’d love to tell you that we all lived happily ever after, but things didn’t work out quite like that...’
(Your mood becomes more sombre, as you begin to tear the picture down on the left side. The rip goes through your parents’ held hands, so that the king is torn away from the scene. And as you do this, you say:)
‘I was six or seven when the first cracks appeared – you know, the usual stuff: raised voices, slammed doors.’
(You start to scrunch up the torn section into a ball.)
‘And by the time I’d turned eight, my dad, my dad the king... well watch. (First vanish.) Gone. Charmed clean away.’
(Next you tear the house from the picture, as you say:)
‘The house went next. One minute an impregnable fortress, the next, you see, gone.’
(The house section, too, has been rolled into a ball and vanished. Then you rip the remainder of the picture into several pieces. The first rip breaks the little prince in two.)
‘Till finally it felt like something died in me, and the whole of my kingdom had disappeared.’
(The remaining pieces of the picture have been scrunched into a ball, and vanished. Then you turn away from your volunteer, and address the rest of the audience:)
‘And wasn’t it just like that as a child? The people around you, they can see what’s going on, but you (look back at the volunteer, sadly and sympathetically), you’ve got no idea. Till the day you do find out where those pieces went, and then all you feel is cheated.’
(As you say this, you ruefully reveal the mechanics and the debris of the trick to the volunteer. You share her disappointment. Then, brightening, to everybody you say:)

‘But then one day, you wake up, and you realise that, for the past twenty years or so, you’ve been living in the WRONG STORY. The land that you thought was dead, actually was just sleeping; and the castle that seemed lost forever, was only hidden behind an acre of thorns. In fact, ALL the scattered pieces of your magic were lying somewhere, waiting for you to find them.’
(You have picked up your energy levels, along with the pieces.)
‘And this is how I see the story now.’

(One by one, you place the torn fragments back into your hand. You squeeze them together into a ball as you tell this new story:)
‘And so it was, in his thirty second year, the little prince became a king, and he took himself a queen. And, together, they lived in a castle and had two beautiful children.’
(For an instant, it looks as if you are about to vanish the scrunched up ball, but, instead...)
‘And the world was full of magic, and the kingdom was restored.’
(...you open out the once-torn picture onto the table. It has been completely restored. You pause and smile broadly. Then you carefully refold the picture, and put it away.)

Regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
Jaz
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I like it Caleb!!
ptbeast
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Inspired! It is magical to the entire audience, not just the volunteer and the volunteer does not feel that they were made fun of. It is also a story that many of us can relate to. I think that this might fit well with something I have been working on. With your kind permission, I may use a slightly altered version of this.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

Dave
Curtis Kam
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Shockingly clever as always, but you're not coming to my house for Christmas dinner. On the other hand, there are child counseling sessions here that are obligatory for families that are intiating a divorce. This might be just the thing for those meetings.

And, while the script is certainly relevant and evocative, it's not really any more "bizarre" than ordinary life today. Not that that's a bad thing, it's what makes it work.
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montz
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Caleb,

That was just the inspired approach to a classic effect that we'd expected from you, excellent.

Here's another idea to add to the melting pot, that adds a little convincer to the magic, and opens up a potential for the story to have a less than happy ending... something along the lines of the prince still not fitting in after the restoration - and the picture is restored, all except the prince piece, which hasn't been restored, despite the tears matching perfectly.

Just an idea, keep up the good work

Liam.
Caleb Strange
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Many thanks for people's feedback and kind words.

Dave, I'd be very happy for you to adapt it for performance - many thanks for asking.

Curtis, I really like your suggestion of using this presentation during a pre-divorce child counselling session. The story would speak to ALL the people in the room, and the metaphor would be potentially useful whatever the outcome. As for 'bizarre', I find myself thinking, more and more these days, that story-telling magic is perhaps most useful when it is rooted in the everyday. The soil may be plain, but the magic that grows out of it can be nourishing and beautiful. Sometimes, when I've tried to cultivate things in more exotic soil, what grows has not been so sturdy.

Liam, that's another great idea Smile. Importantly, it would send a different message to the audience about one's performance character and elicit different sympathies. (One of the things I wanted the effect to do was to create a plausible biography for a story-telling magician: either way could be used to that end.)

Regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
Jonathan Townsend
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Folks, going along with divorce, perhaps the parents could wind up on opposite sides of the paper in different castles?
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montz
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Quote:
On 2005-06-25 11:49, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Folks, going along with divorce, perhaps the parents could wind up on opposite sides of the paper in different castles?


This is a nice idea, and lends itself to a nice looking effect - you have the photo, and tear it neatly in half, separating the couple. Then swap the position of the pieces around, and restore them (ie along the straight edges), leaving you with a restored photo (torn at the edges) but now with the couple apart.

Liam.
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It's inspiring... very nice caleb...
actually I have been like the little prince...
may I also adapt this one with slight variation...
Caleb Strange
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This is off-topic, but if I post it here, it’ll be easier to trace back my train of thought. Jon and Liam respectively wrote:

‘Folks, going along with divorce, perhaps the parents could wind up on opposite sides of the paper in different castles?’

and

‘This is a nice idea, and lends itself to a nice looking effect - you have the photo, and tear it neatly in half, separating the couple. Then swap the position of the pieces around, and restore them (ie along the straight edges), leaving you with a restored photo (torn at the edges) but now with the couple apart.’

Together, these two ideas have led to this:


The Bigger Picture

You begin by saying that, in our culture, images of love, and sometimes our conception of it, are often idealised and unrealistic. ‘Look at this couple,’ you say, and you take out a photograph of a golden-haired, gooey, sunshine couple – ‘It came with the frame,’ you explain. ‘But we all know that love’s not like that,’ you say. ‘Not often. Experience teaches us that it can be a very raw thing, beautiful, but with rough edges. Indeed, it may hurt us to learn that life is seen sometimes in a starker focus; and it's not so easily airbrushed as these two, either.’ (You raise an eyebrow and tap the photo-frame photo.)

‘To some people, the bitter-sweet complexities of love come as a terrible shock,’ you say. ‘For instance, some friends of mine, who, for several years, seemed to be THE golden couple, have found it difficult to come to terms with the end of their romantic relationship. They were SURE they were the perfect couple – met in college, fell passionately in love, and, straight after graduation, got married. A few years later, they'd moved to the country and were planning the names of their kids. It’s not these two, by the way,’ you say pointing at the photograph. ‘But they’ll do.’

You continue, ‘Anyway, one day something happened to my friends that tore them irrevocably apart.’ (You tear the ‘golden’ photograph in two to illustrate this.) ‘And such was the pain and violence of their break-up that no chance of reconciliation remained.’ (You push the two torn pieces far apart.)

‘But time heals,’ you say, ‘and after a while, this terrible wound knitted over. After a fashion. (You repair the photo along its straight edges, leaving the couple apart, and the photo now with two ragged edges.) ‘Though there was now this unbridgeable space between them, and this ragged, imperfect edge to their lives.’ (You pause, looking at the photograph.)

‘And that’s where they are now,’ you explain. ‘And that’s where they think they will be, for the rest of their lives. But through magic, we can, sometimes, see the bigger picture.’ (You take out a much larger picture – there is a hole in the centre of this photograph.)

‘Nothing happens without a reason,’ you assert. ‘And what seems to them now to be a barely repaired disaster, may actually be the missing piece to their lives.’ (You take the small, ragged-edged photo, and it fits the hole of the larger photo perfectly. And it makes a lovely new picture: both your friends apart, but holding hands with their new loves and families.)

‘We can’t be sure things will work out like this for them. But they're gonna have a lot of fun finding out.’ (You smile and put the photos away.)

(Many thanks to Jon and Liam for the ideas.)

Regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
Curtis Kam
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Caleb,

I like the idea of "fitting into a bigger picture". Would that the picture could then unfold at the edges, revealing a still larger photo, that the audience begins to realize is a picture of them in the theater. Ah, maybe someday.

I was thinking about this theme in the context of the "balls over the head" plot, and wondered:

Suppose you tear people out of the photo, and "vanish" them, as in the original routine. However, what started out as being one of life's "dirty tricks" takes a conciliatory turn, when the balls are retrieved and opened, and each now shows the "vanished" individual with a new partner.

Hey, just a thought, this could be very, very strong if performed not with a photo, but a child's drawing of his family....

...as Caleb suggested in his initial routine. (had to go back and check.)
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Jonathan Townsend
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Had this arrive as a word picture, not a presentation yet but here goes.

The Magician and the Litterbug. Would you like play the part of the magician. Okay, wave your hand over the paper ball. Hey you are good. Okay now let's change roles... I saw you do that. Really.

Just a thought.
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