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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » First thoughts for a performance & How far should you take it... (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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spidey_ak
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I've come up with an idea on my first performance and have been working on how I'll accomplish the stunts. In looking over my thoughts & notes, some of these tricks are very powerful as standalone stunts, and I am wanting to combine several of them.

My question is: How far is too far?

I know this deals with a lot of factors, some of which are, off the top of my head: the audience, how I bill the performance, and my attitude as I perform, among others.

This will be the first story/bizarre act I will perform. Before, it's always been the sleight-of-hand coin, money & card tricks, so I never really considered the psychological impact of my performances. In fact, it wasn't until I recently performed a version of Stigmata that I stopped to think about how far I should go.

Baba inspired me to come up with this routine, even before I've received his book! I have some familiarity with voodoo, so I'm wanting to build a routine around that. Like Chelman, I collect the rare & the bizarre. I am wanting to combine the two into a show that would be high impact. I want it to be powerful as it will set expectations in the community.

A little about the idea:

The premise is that voodoo is not something with which to dabble as there can be some grave (pun intended!) consequences. I will explain how I met a hougon who experienced possession and was able to look into the future. To illustrate this story, I am looking at 3 or 4 effects that will demonstrate the possession during the performance (planning on a gory example) and ending with a very physcial & inspectable result of the "spirit" leaving my body; and I plan to demonstrate the ability of the "spirits" to see into the future.

How many effects do you include in your shows? Each of the 3 or 4 effects I want to include are fairly powerful on their own; however, combined, they will definitely leave an impression.

EDIT: corrected a couple of spelling errors
chmara
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Why gory effects?

Miser's dream presented as seeking wealth through spells -- but the last few "coins" becoming something negative (razor blades, bullets or such) can present a theme --

In this type of presentation too, remember that sometimes production of smoke is more important than anything you inspect. The heat of belief rather than rational proof is more powerful.

Methods of bottle tipping will work -- as long as you are not near the bottle when it falls.

Cutting and restoring a rope with a story of a macabre escape from the dead.

I ask why gory because the best bizzare work alows the fear and emotion to arise from your audience's mind. Look to Lee Earle's Musing Box where a spirit of a lost child allows the music to return to an empuy box whilst her spirit roams -- and the audience has no idea from whence the sound comes.

And remember - an apport (old seance term) can be scary as heck when done by a master manipulator.
Gregg (C. H. Mara) Chmara

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Tucson, AZ



C. H. Mara Illusion & Psychic Entertainments
The Curator
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I agree with Chmara (and Bill Palmer and others); bizarre magic is not necessary about gore magic. I'm involved with voodoo for some times, there's a section about that in Hauntiques.
And read Baba's excellent book.
Here are 3 stories/effects involving voodoo, none is particulary gory.
http://www.surnateum.org/English/surnate......medi.htm
http://www.surnateum.org/English/surnate......ulie.htm
http://www.surnateum.org/English/surnate......shun.htm
spidey_ak
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Only one "gory" effect is planned. It doesn't necessarily have to be, but it will add to the realism of the effect. One of the effects does have smoke as the component =)...

What I want to accomplish, psychologically speaking, is to bring the specs from the edge of belief right smack-dab into the middle of it. I've created an idea around this, but I don't know how many of the effects I should use in the performance; and, I guess, in the end, this is a rhetorical statement.

My initial thought would be that one should incorporate as many effects as is necessary to tell the story. But, if the story is designed as such that it is too powerful...

Thank you for the other ideas, while I hadn't considered them before, they certainly could be used in another performance =).
spidey_ak
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Christian, thanks for the reply. I've read quite a bit about bizarre not being geek magic, necessarily. In fact, my idea has only one "gory" idea, & the rest of them affect more the mind than anything else.

In all reality, the one "gory" effect is one that I may or may not include in the story. It was a last minute idea that would illustrate the possession, in an extremely physical manner.

I also understand that bizarre is as bizarre does. That's what I've been all my life =)...

PS - I forgot to ask, chmara, what is an 'apport'? I'm not overly familiar with seances. Thanks, again
The Curator
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In fact, ask yourself "what is the effect ?"
As I often repeat, a trick is not an effect. And a trick is at the service of an effect.
spidey_ak
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I've never thought about 'tricks' & 'effects' in that manner. It makes sense, though. One is the desired result & the other is the vehicle; am I correct?
ptbeast
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Spidey -- you have really answered your questions yourself. How many effects? As many as it takes to tell the story (and perhaps to fit your allotted time). How far should you take it? As far as is appropriate for your audience and the expectations that you have created for them. You must know your audience.

A note on gore. As others have said, it is not necessary to bizarre magic and is often inappropriate. That said, in the proper time and place it can be very powerful. Once again, consider your audience and story carefully before determining if it will move your story along and create the emotions that you wish to evoke, or whether you are only using gore for gore's sake.

It sounds to me like you are off to good start. Now get out there and do it. You will learn more from the experience of a few bizarre performances than from reading every post on this board. Watch how people react. Talk to them afterwards. You will learn what you need to know about adjusting future performances.

Good luck.

Dave
spidey_ak
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Thanks, Dave, I appreciate the info & suggestions =)...
Doug Higley
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Spidey_ak...you'll be doing the Dark Museum ('Ripper Evidence' in your case) and I think you'll find (if like everyone else so far) that it's a powerful bit of business that will get the reactions you're looking for in the context you are creating. Since I'm including the original instructions as well you'll have two ways to do it depending on the type of audience. (Kids like the Jungle Cannibal approach).

You'll have fun I'm sure with what ever you come up with!

Doug
Higley's Giant Flea Pocket Zibit
spidey_ak
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I can't wait to receive these! & thanks for including the original instructions, it's always nice to have a larger repertoire!

~Steve
Bill Fienning
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Gore, blood and guts is certainly not necessary to have a strong affect on the audience. During my seance, I ask a woman to hold a small doll's hand in her open palm. It moves just a little. Mary Tomich dropped the doll's hand when it happened. Other women have had similar, strong reactions.

Several of my bizarre shows are each structured around a single theme, often lasting up to 20 minutes or so, but with something happening every 2 or 3 minutes. My props must look authentic. I don't use something to represent something else. In some cases, however, I obviously cannot have (for example) the actual deck of cards, so I am illustrating the story with an obviously modern deck, but it is a "stand-in" for the actual artifact.
Bill Fienning

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spidey_ak
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I am so sorry to have mentioned the word "gore" to describe an effect. I had no idea it would bring such a response, i.e., such a focus on one small aspect of a larger idea.

The one effect in question would be to cut, either entirely or in portion, into or through my finger. Blood does not necessarily have to be shown or involved; however, it is a rather strong effect, especially in context.

This effect would last a total of seconds in a 20 minute routine that comprised so much more than just that "gore."

What I was really hoping to receive was feedback, similar to Dave's, that everybody else had with how much they put into a show. Maybe I should have stated that more explicitly. I understand that we, as practicioners of a certain art, are in a position of trust. I have an idea of a performance that could be strong, and, as such, I wanted to make sure that I was not off base and abusing that trust. Because I don't have experience in this field, I really wanted some feedback based upon other people's experience who have worked as a storyteller/bizarrist before.

If I could edit out the word "gore" and use something else, I definitely would, because it has become the focus =/, rather than what I was hoping to receive.
egregor
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The most important fact to remember for making a magical moment special is what "Doesn't" happen is infinately more important than what "Does" happen.
Remember all the most horrific movies are the psychological ones in which the audience's mind is allowed to percieve an event rather than be shown an event.
I'm always amazed at the conversations about my performances that people remember the most, are the things that I never did. My personal mythology is way bigger than my actual performance. I think the perception of what I do is the most important aspect of my performances. Not the performance itself. Do a seance in total darkness, and see how minimal your actual performance must be. I have a 5' X 8' mirror on a wall in my seance room that much magic takes place in, and is the spookiest thing in the room. The mirror is not gimmicked in any way, yet the things patrons say they saw in the mirror during a seasnce are profound. No performance is greater than a patrons mind.
My mom says I'm reprehensible, I think I'm perfectly hensible.
spidey_ak
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Egregor, I'm very interested in trying a seance routine, but I've never been part of one. Do you, are anybody else for that matter, have any good recommendations for learning?

I'll definitely have to remember that last bit =).
chmara
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One of the most effective seance bits is to make sure not everyone experiences the effect but some have a chance to share their seeing it. This could be a scream from a ghost's kiss -- or aetting the effect's angle so only a few will see the ghost appear behind others.

Takes a lot of thought and planning.
Gregg (C. H. Mara) Chmara

Commercial Operations, LLC

Tucson, AZ



C. H. Mara Illusion & Psychic Entertainments
spidey_ak
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Chmara that really interests me, letting the story & effects be basically sold from another person's point of view! It completely removes the storyteller from the picture & then the story & effect(s) become self-perpetuating.

Where's a good place to learn about magical seances? Any good books to recommend?

Thank you all for the help!
ptbeast
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I would start with...

Seance edited by Scott Davis

Manifestations by Lee Earle

and

Haunted Magic by Rick Maue (Not directly on seances but lots of adaptable material)

Dave
chmara
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Eugene Burger's works on Seance plus "Seance" the book are both helpful.

Then - if you can find one - the Complete Notebooks of C. A. George Newman -- which is a collection of the routines actually used by readers and seance workers of that era.

Then - the biggest challenge. Go to your own creativity and thise things that are frightening, not understood or are sacred to you -- and relate them to the routines you include.

While Lee Earle's "Manifestations" highlighted the Q&A approach, Calvert's "Lizzie Borden" was fully scripted. Maue's works are from a skeptical point of view -- aimed at suspension of disbelief more than "be;ief."

I am finishing two new seance scripts -- as I negotiate for a venue for regular performance of them and want to create a third mobile seance for traveling. It has been a long project about to come to fruition. Some of the effects I am using can be found in the Borodin Books translated by Bill Palmer.
Gregg (C. H. Mara) Chmara

Commercial Operations, LLC

Tucson, AZ



C. H. Mara Illusion & Psychic Entertainments
gothicmagic
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I think one of the most important things in the performance (aside from the quality)is "how do you want to be percieved, if the gore adds to the mood then use it if it is there just to "do it" then probably think again, Venue is also something you need to keep in mind. I have pefromed in some clubs or "historical locations" that would have had coronary faliure if "drippy" items were used. I'm reminded of Max's comment about performers on Nothing (who is this performer, what story are they trying to tell, and why are they worth my time).
best of luck on the show (or should I say Break a thread)
Vlad
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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » First thoughts for a performance & How far should you take it... (0 Likes)
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