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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Finger/stage manipulation » » Zombie act length? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Matthew W
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What is the ideal length for a zombie ball act set to music? I feel it would lose its 'sparkle' after a while.
-Matt
graywolf
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Keep it short..Cordially,Howard
kregg
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Your Zombie has to be excellent. How long you sustain the attention of your audience depends on how good you are at casting spells that draw them into your act.

The audience is already facing forward, looking at the only person on the stage. Is the ambience you created strong enough to hold their attention?

Flash paper and glitter can draw them into the action, but, is the action strong enough to keep them interested?

Don't let being a magician keep you from asking the big question; Were I in the audience would I be interested?
POOF!
illusions & reality
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No matter how good your routine is, you should keep the routine short. It is always better for the audience to wish that the routine had been a little longer than a little shorter.

In other words, don't repeat "cool moves" just because you can.

Lou
magic4u02
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This is something I wrote a long time ago. I really think it can add value to the discussion here and so I hope it is ok with you all if I post it here for folks to read. It really covers off on how we as manipulators can create acts based on creativity and how and why we should go about it in a different way. I hope it is of help to you. my pleasure.

I decided to write this article out of numerous requests I have received from many magicians and manipulators on the subject of putting an act together. How do you keep it creative and different and why is it not the best to just do an act of pure skill alone. Below is my answer to these questions along with some tips on what has worked for me in regards to ways anyone can make their own acts more creative and therefore connect better with the audience and gather more response and applause along with it.

My first question to anyone putting an act together may seem a bit strange or sound like I am being too harsh, but read on and I think you will see what I am referring to. Some of these tips relate to manipulative magic, but the tips can be used for any type of an act. My big question to you is: WHY!!!!!

I told you that it may seem a bit strange, but let me go on now to tell you about what I am referring to. To a magician, we are fascinated with cards and flourishes and vanishes and anything related to manipulation. It amazes us by the technique and the method and skill involved in doing the executions of the routines. This alone keeps us striving to learn more and peaks our interest and curiosity.

However, this is often NOT the case with a lay audience. A lay audience does not see manipulative magic in the same way we do. They do not understand the techniques and skills involved and nor should they if what we are doing is supposed to be magical. With this in mind, the audience often will say to themselves... "WHY". Why is this magician doing the same thing over and over again.

Why? Because the magician knows he is doing different vanishes and each one is slightly unique. However the audience only knows that the card vanishes, the card returned and now your doing it again. This is why an act of manipulation is very hard to do well if your doing it for 7-8 mins in a normal act time. You do not want your audience ever going "Why" at any time in the routine.

So how do you work around this problem of boring your audience to tears? Well that is where research and creativity comes into the picture. It gets back to the point that in a manipulative act you must give the audience "more". It is not good enough to simply show an 8 minute act of pure skill alone doing moves that appear the same to any audience.

So how do you give your audience more? Well you can give them more through the use of themes, character, style, pacing, transition effects and emotional response to just name a few. Let me go on to talk very briefly about each of these I just mentioned. Each could be an article all in itself but I will just give you my tips on each one for now in hopes you can grasps what I am referring to.

- Themes: You can give more to your audience in any manipulative act if you simply add in a theme to the act you are doing. This can be a generalized theme in regards to the objects all relating that you are manipulating, or the act itself can be themed around a storyline. In this way you are performing a small 8 min play that just so happens to have magic in it. The audience can relate to the themed objects or the story and get more involved with your act and with you.

- Character: Every act you do should have a strong character present on stage. The audience needs to be able to connect with this character. If you can connect the audience with you, then they become more attached to you and can relate to what you are doing on stage. Ask yourself if your character is suave, comical, athletic, hip, sad, down on his luck. Each of these can become a strong character that can be conveyed in your stage movement and even your music.

- Style: With style, I mean the way you move on stage and the way you conduct and hold yourself throughout the act. It is something that must be learned over time. It is those little things that make a huge difference to an audience liking you or not. It can be the way you pause at the right moment and look at the audience and wink right before a big production. It could be the way you move and look and smile at the audience as if saying thank you without moving your mouth at all.

- Pacing: The way you pace and time your act can make a world of difference to an audience. In many manipulative acts, the audience is being barraged with too much visual input. They can not follow it all the time and so start shutting themselves down from even watching what it is you are doing. You must pace your act and place in it pauses that give the audience a chance to catch up, breathe a bit and give them a chance to applaude you before going into the next sequence.

- Transition effects: These are the simple things you can place into your act that changes it up a bit and ads so called "spice" to the act. It gives your audience something more to watch and breaks up the act from being too repetitive.
For example: You could be doing a billiard ball act. You do a few vanishes and produce the ball. The ball gets tossed up and as you catch it it turns into a white silk. You do a knots of silk effect and the not becomes the ball again. In this way the ball to silk becomes a transition effect that gives your audience something more to be interested in.

- Emotional Response: This is a HUGE one and can work so wonderful if done well. If done right it can make your audience connect with you long after you have left the stage. It is causing an emotional response in your audiences by allowing them to connect and relate to your character and the predicament presented on the stage. It can also work closely in with the theme you are presenting.

Every person in your audience has experienced something in common. What is common to us all is emotions. We have all felt fear, love, confusion and happiness. These are common to every person know matter who you are performing for. So if you can connect with them on one or more of these emotions, you can get that audience member to really relate to you because they are remembering a similar situation when they too had that exact same emotion or situation happen to them. they can relate.

For example, your manipulative act could be all about this guy at night who is just trying to reach a bus to get home. It is late and he misses his bus and the entire world seems to be passing him buy. He sits on a bench to wait for the next bus and turns on his radio. He drifts off to sleep only to awake moments later. He realizes that magic starts happening to him even though he does not know exactly why it is. Through out the act the magic that happens to him causes him to smile and to realize that life is full of wonder even if we may not always see it.

Now this is just a very vague example but you can see how the entire act could be a manipulative routine but now you are relating to them a story of a very well defined character with a well defined theme. You give them an emotional response to the act because most can relate to being in a similar situation in their own life. In this way they relate better to what you are doing on stage.

Now these ideas are not meant to be the bible for a great act by any means. They are simply some of my own understandings on what I have experienced that has really worked not only for myself but to other acts that have really "made it." They are meant only to be reviewed and given some thought to. Take even one thing from them and I think you will see your act reaching your audiences in a whole different light.

So I simply ask you to ask yourself. WHY

Kyle
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JamesTong
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Excellent advice, Kyle.

I would also like to add a little bit here.

There are only that many moves or techniques being used in a zombie ball routine. And you cannot just repeat them just because you want to lengthen the time. By doing so, you may not get the response you want.

Learn whaever techniques that suit you, practise them well and follow Kyle's advice above and you would be able to create a zombie ball routine that is different from the others.
kregg
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Gentlemen, I'm with you on all that's been said. Nevertheless, so many magicians look at the Zombie like a bit that has to be done in a block of time, instead of a connective thread in your tapestry. If the Zombie is treated like a series of moves, well then, time is indeed short and you better fly through it before your audience falls asleep.

Didn't Jerome Murat do a Zombie with the head for over seven minutes?
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xf9oo_jerome-murat
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magic4u02
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Thanks guys. I really sppreciate the kind words. The idea here is to take the zombie and be creative with it. It does not have to be exactly like every single zombie routine you have seen before. It can become something different, something new and something creative. Learn to think outwardly instead of always looking inward towards magic for your creative ideas. And remember who your audience really is. It is not about performing zombie moves just because you know them and love them. It is about using the moves as tools to create the best entertainment experience for your audience. In many cases, you do not need that many moves to do it.

Kyle
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Jeb Sherrill
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It's funny, I don't think I get asked any question more frequently. I talked about routine length some on the second volume of my Zombie DVDs, but due to this question coming up so often, I will probably go into even greater detail on the third. It will hopefully go into production soon.

The truth is that it's been stated for years that a good Zombie routine should be short and sweet. There's good reason for this, and I hesitate to say anything against it for fear that Zombie routines will increase in length purely for the sake of time, so here I tread lightly.

A Zombie act can very easily become like a card manipulator, showing off the range of his movements, and it can just as easily become a series of pointless repetitions. For me, the best kept secret to Zombie (and indeed magic in general), is to learn all the moves one possibly can and then forget them. Let them move back into the recesses of ones head where such moves exist, but are not thought about (much like walking). We must choose our premise and then allow the act to unfold from that premise.

In short, a Zombie routine should be exactly as long as it is; no shorter, no longer. Remember that "Zombie", is really just a term for a method employed in the effect "The Floating Ball", and all we should be concerned about when routining is what we want the "Floating Ball, Skull, Violin, Soda Can etc., to do. We should not be concerned with how we are doing it (i.e. how many moves we are using or not using). Much like the manipulation cards metaphor, the audience should not be aware that any "moves" exist. This is even more true with Zombie than cards. The audience should only see a ball floating (around your body, under the cloth, behind your back, over your shoulder etc.).

For some, floating a ball just to show they can float it, is premise enough. 99 out of a 100 routines fall into this category and should probably be no more than 30 seconds to a minute long (if that), but for some, the "Floating Ball" is used to tell a much longer story. A routine I once created was over 6 minutes long (though it consisted of 3 distinct parts and told a fairly involved story). I don't suggest this for most performers. Jerome is an exceptional performer, telling a long story, and the Zombie "like" method he employs is only used a couple times. If one studies his performance well, they will probably find that is no exactly a Zombie at all, per se. But I digress.

To be purely practical and not fall into a long a diatribe on theater and mime premise (which I am all to prone to do, and probably already have), I can only say, "don't keep going on with it just because you can, but don't be afraid to take it further if your premise requires it." If you've been performing long enough, you'll know the difference. If you're new to performing, keep it short, sweet and to the point.

Jeb
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ufo
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Everything everyone has said is true. And short is better!
"What's your drug?" she asked. "Hope" he said, "The most addicting one of all."
Thommy Razor
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Ya know, Jeb himself is responsible for adding a full minute onto my routine with those dvds of his. My zombie act is just under five minutes. I feel that's a really long routine. But, it needs to be, for what I'm doing.
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Brent McLeod
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Having performed Zombie Professionally for over 25 yrs in every imaginable venue,theatres,clubs etc

Keep the routine short 60-80 secs is my max time with very good music

as Kyle mentions in structuring effects in an act-have a begining .middle & end of your effects as well!

Zombie is a great effect if done well & rehearsed as an individual routine-you don't need to vanish the ball or even change to flowers etc

It is still a popular effect with lay audience so keep it short for the WOW factor!!

Let us know how you get on!!

-Brent
Matthew W
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Thanks for all the helpful info. I am definitly going to keep it short, the gimmick hurts too much to do a longer routine.
-Matt
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