The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Magic Play (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Habu
View Profile
Veteran user
Texas / Alabama
393 Posts

Profile of Habu
I am still a few years out from moving from children's parties and school plays to doing full stage shows, but that is the direction I am planning to go.

I am starting now on developing my show.

I am at a disadvantage however because I have only seen one real illusionist in my life. That was DC and the show I saw had one grand illusion and the rest was mostly smaller (in size not quality of performance) effects.

I am going to start seeing all the illusionists I can manage to get to in order to get a feel of a stage illusionist performance. And because I'd love to be able to see some good performers do their stuff. I also plan to attend whatever conventions I can get to.

So the point of my post is that I do not have a feel for what other Illusionists do, or what the audience expects.

I am planning to design my own illusions and to start purchasing illusion plans that I can build or modify that will fit into the vision of a performance I'd like to develop. What I'd like to do is create a play based on a magician, doing some acting but only as a means to introduce the illusions in a logical order. Spectator volunteers would be selected prior to the beginning of the play and would be introduced into the performance as part of the play itself via assistants.

FINALLY I get to the question of this post; Assuming the play is well scripted, routined etc...and my ability to entertain is up to par (I added those to conditions because I know the rubber stamp answer is always "Its not the tricks its your ability to perform")...

Do you feel that audiences would be receptive to watching illusion routines in the form of a play (illusionist is not directly addressing the audience)...or do they want to see an illusionist perform them in a more traditional way, doing illusions individually and addressing the audience directly?

Whew that is a mouth full.

I'd like to think I am working toward an achievable goal. One thing I have learned from this forum is that there is a wealth of knowledge out there and it's better to ask then to close your eyes and hope!

Thanks for any thoughts on this.
www.magicbyhabu.com
Real name: Rick Jackson
Habu: Taken from SR-71 spy plane I worked on. It's name came from a poisonous snake on Okinawa. Hope my magic isn't poisonous!
Dynamike
View Profile
Eternal Order
FullTimer
24107 Posts

Profile of Dynamike
It would be better to take a headstart. If you really have the desire, do not wait to see others. Practice by being yourself. One reason it would be better is because it might take 2 or more years until you see enough of other performances, leaving you behind on your plans. Another reason is because you can learn your own moves without watching others. In the future when you do see others, you might learn more on improvements of the act you will already have together.

If you do not start making any effort towards becoming an illusionist within 6 months, you will have nothing to worry about because you did not have the interest.

It would best to write down you plans in detail, not general. Read the plans everyday. No pain, no gain. Conceive, believe, achieve.

At first I was a magician like you. I thought about becoming an illusionist too. I did not wait to watch others. Presently, I am working on mentalism, I do not have to wait to watch others.

Habu, "Move that mountain."
Spellbinder
View Profile
Inner circle
The Holy City of East Orange, NJ
6438 Posts

Profile of Spellbinder
Habu wrote:
Quote:
Do you feel that audiences would be receptive to watching illusion routines in the form of a play (illusionist is not directly addressing the audience)...or do they want to see an illusionist perform them in a more traditional way, doing illusions individually and addressing the audience directly?

And the answer is... yes! Thank you, magic 8-ball! As long as what you present is entertaining, audiences will be there to enjoy it!

To expand the answer beyond the capabilities of the magic 8-ball; the illusion show in the form of a play is not as common or frequent as the "one-after-another-illusions-just-because-I-bought-them-and-you've-got-to-watch-every-last-one" show.

I can count the illusion plays on one hand, I think: Doug Henning's "The Magic Show"....hmmm... maybe I only need one finger. I'm sure there must be more. No fair counting plays that contain illusions. I'm sure others will add to this list, at least a few more examples.

Stories that cry out to be turned into illusion plays: "The Illusionist - the Movie" could make a great illusion play; "Harry Dresden - Live and On Stage (and trying desperately not to turn into his father)"; "Harry Potter All Grown Up"; "Wizard of the Rings"; "Young Merlin" ...no that was a play Jim Gerrish wrote and went broke on; "Clash of the Magicians".... etc.
Professor Spellbinder

Professor Emeritus at the Turkey Buzzard Academy of Magik, Witchcraft and Wizardry

http://www.magicnook.com

Publisher of The Wizards' Journals
Bill Nuvo
View Profile
Inner circle
3094 Posts or
2747 Posts

Profile of Bill Nuvo
Audiences will watch a play illusion show. I have one. But it is limited to the type of venues it can perform in. It can only play in theatres and not in open air stages.

As long as it is entertaining, people will enjoy it. As long as people know a little about what to expect, you won't dissapoint. I first tested parts of the show at a Fringe Theatre Festival. It went over very well. So I then expanded on it to include other performers (dancers). The thing about my show is we sometimes break the fourth wall and interact with the audience. We also do more than just magic. We have dance numbers (modern interpretive style dance), juggling, puppetry and more. A great example of someone (not a magician) taking the act after act syndrome and putting it into a storyline is Cirque Du Soleil. It is truly a theatrical production.
Christopher Starr
View Profile
Inner circle
Heart of America
1851 Posts

Profile of Christopher Starr
Habu:

Most of us that have done, or do perform illusions started out with our basic act, and then added one illusion at a time, until we eventually had enough material for an "illusion show". We didn't have the luxury of deciding, "Today I think I'll buy an illusion show".

I got my start back in the late 70s, and at that time your magic peers didn't consider you a real working "pro" unless you had a Zig Zag in you act. And so, everone, including myself, David Copperfield when he first started, etc. had one.

From there, I moved onto a head chopper, then a thin sawing, a doll house, etc.

Point is, most of us without a tv network backing us, accumulate the illusions we do have little by little.

As for the play idea...I would think that it would be easier to present a regular magic show, then present little vignettes, ala Copperfield, so that one central storyline need not be maintained throughout a 60-90 performance. Plus, you can string together several routines that may have dramatically different storylines and outcomes. It also affords you an opportunity to just present a straightforward trick, such as one involving audience participation, etc.

You should strive to see as many live performances as possible, however, there are also hours of video available to you to also enjoy.

My 2˘

Chris
Bill Nuvo
View Profile
Inner circle
3094 Posts or
2747 Posts

Profile of Bill Nuvo
Although I agree with what Christopher Starr says, I might add though, with a play in mind, you can better decide on what effects to purchase. For example: I was going to buy Beside Yourself by Peter Loughran. But after about 4 months consideration, I found that I wasn't able to add it in because it didn't fit the look and purpose of the show. Andrew Mayne's Bisection, however, did make it in. One of Peter's other illusions did make it in...Headrush. It was perfect for my storyline.

Don't be in a rush to buy things. You can build little by little as Christopher said and do a "non-play" show while you build up to your play. Don't be surprised if it takes 2 years or more to get to that point.
George Ledo
View Profile
Magic Café Columnist
SF Bay Area
2895 Posts

Profile of George Ledo
To answer your question about audiences being receptive to a play: Audiences will be receptive to anything as long as it's well produced and entertaining.

Someone pointed out in another thread that audiences today are receptive to crap because they see so much of it on TV. You don't need to go there. Just produce the best darn play you can, try it out, and be ready to make changes if it doesn't work out immediately. And don't try to do the whole thing by yourself. Get a director and some help with the theatrical stuff.

If you haven't already, read Showmanship for Magicians by Fitzkee. It's very very dated as written, but the basic principles he discusses will probably still be valid hundreds of years from now.

I think the biggest challenge here will be to create a story and a main character that people will care about. Read a couple of good books on what a play is and how to write one. Plays are stories about people and their problems and how they respond to them and how they grow from them or are destroyed by them. Watch a bunch of plays and see how the stories develop. No story = no play = no interest.

Best of luck with your project!
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
Christopher Starr
View Profile
Inner circle
Heart of America
1851 Posts

Profile of Christopher Starr
Quote:
On 2007-03-05 10:56, George Ledo wrote:
...I think the biggest challenge here will be to create a story and a main character that people will care about......


George wrote essentially what I was thinkiing from the outset: Have you ever written a play?

Most of us are not Arthur Miller or David Mamet. It takes years of acting, writing, EXPERIENCE to write a regular theatrical play to begin with. Now add the challenge of working magic tricks around the plotline, and WHOA! It is hard enough for most of us to pull off the magic tricks in a successfully entertaining manner, now make it follow a storyline too? Even Mr. Copperfield would find that a challenge.

I'm not saying that it can't be done - it can. But is it within YOUR abilities to write, produce, direct? You'll have to decide that one on your own.

Chris
sethman
View Profile
Regular user
145 Posts

Profile of sethman
There is a magician named Lawrence Khong who has an illusion show that is a musical. It is complete with original songs and everything. If you want to do a play you should check him out because your tastes would be similar. Just a thought.
George Ledo
View Profile
Magic Café Columnist
SF Bay Area
2895 Posts

Profile of George Ledo
Chris is correct. This is one of those cases where "do it yourself" is definitely not a good idea. If DC wanted to do something like this, he'd hire the best writer he could find, and it would probably not be someone in magic. Writers, directors, designers, and so forth are not a luxury -- they're an investment.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
Moth
View Profile
Regular user
109 Posts

Profile of Moth
Being that I'm from the theatre, I can maybe contribute this:

First, as good old Robert-Houdin said, the conjuror is an actor playing the part of a magician.

Technically, there's always a story and a character - whether, as people have indicated, the story alters to fit the illusion and the "character" of the magician is a thinly-veiled version of yourself, or whether the story strives for what the classicists call "unity of action" and a more traditional (read: Aristotelian) action/objective/reversal/catharsis sort of thing.

Modern theatre is quite fluid, and encompasses many forms. And, if you go back to Maskelyne's theatre, you'll see little "playlets" cropping up to support illusions.

If you want to tinker with your own idea for awhile, and are interested in a "unity of action" approach (with audience participation, which I find interesting) I would suggest that you first decide that your "play" can be structured to allow for a man (you) addressing the audience. It's not uncommon, and it will make everything much easier. So your setting is you, onstage - at whatever venue you happen to be at.

Then, try blocking out your central action. A character at the beginning of almost every play that we recognize as such will start out wanting something that he/she does not have. They will then engage in actions which are designed to get them what they want. Each action will necessarily make the next action possible AND move the protagonist (you) closer to the goal.

Finally, something will happen to the character that changes his/her world view and forces him/her to act in a new way. This is the reversal. Sometimes also the climax.

The character need not get what they wanted at the outset. In fact, they usually either a)get what they wanted but it's not what they thought it would be, or b)don't achieve their goal but have been irrevocably marked by the journey.

SO. If that hasn't scared you yet (and it doesn't necessarily have to), write your "action statement" - john smith SETS OUT to discover the formula for invisibility in order to escape his boring life; in doing so, he DISCOVERS that the formula will cause him to grow a second head, which terrifies him into CHOOSING a normal life.

OK - I don't want to see that play, necessarily, but it's an example.

If you can come up with an action statement and episodes along the way, you should be able to see what illusions (combined with other forms) you can craft into a 30-45 minute stage show.

If you feel sketchy on dramatic form still, you can read Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, and, well, that's the road map.

Hope this helps!
Amanda
George Ledo
View Profile
Magic Café Columnist
SF Bay Area
2895 Posts

Profile of George Ledo
Good post, Amanda! You picked up on precisely the point that is most often overlooked by beginning playwrights: a play has a specific structure.

However, if I can point out one thing you left out, although you did imply it...

Conflict.

I.e., complications, difficulties along the way, problems, other characters (antagonists) who make life difficult, and so forth. If the protagonist could get what he/she wanted without any difficulties, there wouldn't be a story. This applies just as much to comedy as it does to straight drama, farce, tragedy, and all other forms. It's how the main character handles these problems (and what they do to him or her) that determines whether it's a comedy, a drama, or a tragedy. I went into this in my column (here in the Café) on magic as theatre, where I also pointed out that the story needs to be relevant to the audience, meaning they have to be able to relate to the main character and care about him or her.

Even in the movies, now and then we see characters who are so flat, so lifeless, that we just don't care about them and therefore lose interest in the story. Have you ever watched the World Wrestling Entertainment shows? Smile A guy comes out and yells, I want the title. Another guy comes out and says, you can't have the title. They get into a fight. Then the announcer tells us to come back next week for a match between these two. Okay, so we have a guy who wants something and who runs into difficulties. That's the making of a story, right?

Except that I (for instance) can't relate to having the title belt: it's just not something I care about. To me, and to a lot of other people, it's trite. Therefore I flip channels.

And miss out on all the commercials placed there to appeal to people who do care about the title.

And that, right there, can segue into a whole discussion about your audience: do you know yet what kind of an audience you want to cultivate?
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
Jim Snack
View Profile
Inner circle
1338 Posts

Profile of Jim Snack
Quote:
I am at a disadvantage however because I have only seen one real illusionist in my life.

That's an advantage, you can be original.

Quote:
I do not have a feel for what other Illusionists do, or what the audience expects.

The stage is a blank canvas and an audience will accept anything done well. Don't worry about what other Illusionists do, unless it's to do something different, and it would be better to surprise the audience than to play to their expectations.

Jim Steinmeyer's book "Hiding the Elephant" has some great background on the history of the "magic play." Worth reading.

Watch the early David Copperfield specials. His routines were nearly all little plays, and were some of my favorite Copperfield routines, ex. DeKolta Chair Vanish.

Don't try to produce a full length play to start. Work on presenting one illusion in a "mini play" to see how it works. That's how Lance Burton moved from a dove act to an illusionist. He first added the Sword Fight at the Ball piece - a neat little play.

Jim
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
www.success-in-magic.com
Moth
View Profile
Regular user
109 Posts

Profile of Moth
Jim and George, spot on!

And I agree - "Hiding the Elephant" is an excellent introduction to the "magic play" - you can see both the corny plot, minus real conflict or human universal, in "Will, the Witch, and the Watchman" - and also a simpler conflict resolution with "artists dream" - I believe (my memory may be fogging out there.

Seconding George re: human universal and conflict - there needs to be a problem, and it's easiest if you keep it to yourself as opposed to looking for an onstage "antagonist", a la world wrestling - and you want to, as Jim says, pay attention to your own interests. Write what you know is somewhat true - work with an illusion that you are really interested in and excited about on a story level - and find the problem that the illusion can "solve" for you, the protagonist...

and from a playwright friend of mine: "writing is a kind of wish fulfillment; you get to look at your own life, think about a different path that you could follow if anything were possible, walk down that road, discover obstacles, and overcome them!"

And Aristotle, aka George in his column: We (the audience) care because the character is somehow like ourselves (paraphrase, but you get the idea)
-amanda
Jim Snack
View Profile
Inner circle
1338 Posts

Profile of Jim Snack
BTW, this link just showed up in another thread:


video.google.com

Watch the mini plays in this early Copperfield special.

Jim
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
www.success-in-magic.com
Habu
View Profile
Veteran user
Texas / Alabama
393 Posts

Profile of Habu
This has been a very interesting and informative thread to read.

I also received a number of private messages on this and I now have a very clear idea of what to expect and where I want to go with this project.

My original post was a little misleading. My plan is not to try to become the next Sigfried and Roy etc within the next 3 years. The stage play I am working on is an evening show for schools and small venues.

Your comments and suggestions has helped me decide that I am on the right track. I will be working toward doing fewer children's parties and more educational in school assemblies and more after school fund raising events with the magic play...maybe including students in the play itself in some situations.

Thanks,


Posted: Mar 7, 2007 11:34am
-------------------------------------------
By the way on some of the posts on writing the play itself.

I have been involved with children's literature as an author and illustrator for years. I also studied (to a small extent) theater in college. This does not qualify me to write a play by any stretch of the imagination, but it does put me in a fairly well informed position to write the basic plot.

From there I will engage a playwrite to bring it together.

I am also going to take your various words of advice and start out with little mini plays as I bring this together over the next few years.

Thanks again.
www.magicbyhabu.com
Real name: Rick Jackson
Habu: Taken from SR-71 spy plane I worked on. It's name came from a poisonous snake on Okinawa. Hope my magic isn't poisonous!
Mystical Matthew
View Profile
Elite user
468 Posts

Profile of Mystical Matthew
Quote:
On 2007-03-05 08:20, Spellbinder wrote:
I can count the illusion plays on one hand, I think: Doug Henning's "The Magic Show"....hmmm... maybe I only need one finger. I'm sure there must be more. No fair counting plays that contain illusions. I'm sure others will add to this list, at least a few more examples.


Lawrence Khong's "The Magic of Love" is another "Play/Illusion Show". It was in the Lousiville KY area a year or so ago. I went down there to watch it and wasn't disappointed. http://www.magicoflawrence.com/
jlevey
View Profile
Inner circle
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
2136 Posts

Profile of jlevey
Fantastic link to the early Copperfield specials Jim.

Many thanks!

Jonathan
Jonathan
Max & Maxine Entertainment
Magicians with a touch of comedy!
___________________________________
www.maxmagician.com
www.mindreadershow.com
www.monsieurmagic.com
Big Daddy Cool
View Profile
Inner circle
The Houdini Room at The Casa de Cool
1596 Posts

Profile of Big Daddy Cool
Yes - there is a huge market for this!

But, you need a director! You must have a director with experience in legit theater and magic. If you think you can direct it yourself you run a higher risk of failing. Call me when you are ready.
Swing hard, swing often, and we'll catch ya on the Flip-Side!
John Pyka
www.johnpyka.com
Habu
View Profile
Veteran user
Texas / Alabama
393 Posts

Profile of Habu
LOL, well I can tell you for certain I will not attempt to write, produce, direct and star in this production. I am very comfortable with the knowledge that I have certain things I am very good at, some I can get by at and many others that would be a crime for me to attempt.
www.magicbyhabu.com
Real name: Rick Jackson
Habu: Taken from SR-71 spy plane I worked on. It's name came from a poisonous snake on Okinawa. Hope my magic isn't poisonous!
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Magic Play (0 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2021 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.28 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL