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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Studying theater (for close-up) (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Pop Haydn
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An important note: There are different forms of theater, and different kinds of acting. In some situations, acting in magic requires "broad" or "coarse" acting as in sketch comedy. Broad acting is usually a fault, in that it pulls the audience out of the story. In broad acting, the audience is so aware of the actor and his history that they practically call for him to come out from behind his mask to entertain them. In Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyrano is outraged by the broad, but popular acting of Montfleurry. This same type of acting is essential to sketch comedy. Sid Caesar, Red Skelton and other great entertainers would frequently step out of character to comment on what is going on, or to try to get other actor's to break character. In this, the ability of the audience to emotionally become involved in the story is reduced, in favor of the fun of the process--the game of it. What would be bad acting in most theater, in sketch comedy can be comic genius.

The audience is always aware of two characters in the magician. There is the character being directly portrayed who believes in the magic and is involved in the magical story. But the mask of the sorcerer slips every now and then as we spot the Trickster behind the mask. This awareness of the presence of two characters on the stage at once gives some of the excitement to the play. It is a type of presentation that is complex and interesting.

The audience becomes part of this "theater game."

An example is in this presentation, the Six Card Trick. Here the audience is first seeing the magical character, and as he accidently drops a card, they sympathize with him, "The poor old dear..." When it is apparent that he still has six cards and was just screwing with them, they recognize the Trickster behind the mask--"the *** was playing us!" The tension and humor of this conflict can be very fun:

Pop Haydn
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The relationship between the Trickster and the Magical Character is extremely interesting. It is similar to the Ventriloquist and dummy. The audience is perfectly aware that there is a controlling, clever, hidden actor behind the magical character, just as they are aware that the vent is putting every word in the dummy's mouth, yet they still end up talking to the dummy not the vent.
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Studying theater (for close-up) (2 Likes)
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