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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Finger/stage manipulation » » Stage Persona & Cohesive Shows (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Tony Thomas
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How important is a magician's stage persona in the development of a show?

Does the stage persona need to be consistent, or can it change with costume changes, etc.? When you develop a show are you trying to communicate a connected story through one persona, or is it okay to make a show more like a series of skits, each with different messages?

Or, is all this thought peripheral, and really it is just about one entertaining trick after another? How do you develop a cohesive show?
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Tony Thomas

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Andre Hagen
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I don't see how you can develop a cohesive show unless the stage persona is consistent. Your stage persona is of the utmost importance.

Are you doing costume changes? What is your definition of a "skit"? If by that you mean "routine" then yes, it is okay.

Perhaps I do not fully undertand your question(s). Could you elaborate?

Andy
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Drew Manning
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Tony, I think that if you are doing costume changes etc., then you should be able to change the look and feel of the props etc. and would seem congruent.

However, depending on how much time you have per show etc., you may find it easier to make the show congruent up front and make sure that your props and material are suitable to your favorite persona of the group you are working from.

If there is one particualr effect that can't be made to conform, you might explain it in story form so that it fits.
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JamesTong
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Your stage persona or character is the main star of the show. Everything, from equipment to stage props, from costumes to mannerism/actions/speech, must support that persona you are selling to the audience. Everything must be consistent to that persona. The entire show can consist of many different effects but the showmanship and presentation must support that persona.
George Ledo
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Your stage persona is the "you" that you want to present to your audience: the "you" that has something to say to the audience and that you want the audience to remember. That persona has to be consistent throughout the show, because it's what will make your show either deliver a clear message or not.

Too many beginning performers just get up there and do a bunch of tricks, but, when it's over, the audience has no clue who this guy was or why he was doing what he was doing, and therefore have no reason to care for any of it.

Once you have established your character, and your audience knows who you are and why you're there (and once they understand you and like you), then you can go ahead and do characters, or skits, or whatever. Because it'll still be you.

Probably the best example of this I've ever seen was in the old Red Skelton TV show. Red had several recurring characters in the show, but they were all him, and it was very clear who he was and why he was doing what he was doing. Therefore we liked him and cared about him and wanted to see him again.

Watch "America's got Talent" sometime, if you can stand it. It's very noticeable who has a likable character and who is just doing their stuff. A performer standing up there singing, or dancing, or whatever, with no personality is just a geek in a different form.
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Tony Thomas
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Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your feedback. Andy asked for more clarification:

"Are you doing costume changes? What is your definition of a "skit"? If by that you mean "routine" then yes, it is okay. Perhaps I do not fully undertand your question(s). Could you elaborate?"

I'm fairly new to this. I've done three "professional type" shows and I am developing three more shows now. By "skit" I am meaning routine, however when a different routine involves a different look, different character, and another little mini-story, it is like it's own "act". But routine is probably the correct word.

I'll give you some examples: My first show I stayed pretty consistent in persona. My persona is a fisherman. I'm Tony the Troutman. I have a fishing vest and use my kids, who are also in fishing vests in different routines.
1 - We opened with a 20th Century silk routine to jock jam music. My daughter had her vest on, my son did not.
2 - The music faded, we went into an introduction time, and then a "skit" where we got my son ready to go fishing. So to the song "cotton eyed joe", we got him ready, with vest, pole, life jacket, hat, plus some sleight of hand moves with the fishing bobber.
3 - My kids then sat on the side, and I talked about a special bobber that my grandpappy passed on to me, that I still use on the big water. Whenever I use it, the magic happens. Do you want to see it? Then I take it out. It is a zombie disquised as a giant fishing bobber painted white and red. The music starts and the bobber comes to life (zombie routine).

When I go into a story that sets up the next routine, sometimes my ideas are really integrated as above, and sometimes not so much...

For instance, my last show, had three clear segments...
1 - The first third of the show was with Tony the Troutman. I did some Slydini silk magic, and a lengthy three rope routine, and a couple of other things. My children served as assistants.
2 - Then I went back stage and did a costume change and came out looking like a geek (geek glasses, & geek sweater), and did a classic comedy "magic" routine that I call banana bandanna.
3 - Then I came out as "myself" and did a couple of audience participation things and then the sub trunk finale. I set up the finale by describing how I met my wife & asked her to marry me. I concluded the set up with, "And now that I have her, I'm going to keep her, right in this box." My children served as assistants. The music started, my wife came out, and we shackled her, put her in a box, and of course she popped out on top for the finale, and I was foiled.

So, Here I am planning several more shows. And I am wondering what I am doing... I've learned a linking ring routine, multiplying ball routine, I have a chair suspension routine, and more sydini stuff. I'm thinking though my persona, or now personas. And trying to figure out how important cohesivness is to the overall planning. Is a magic show like putting together the Carol Burnett show, for those who can remember her, or is it more integrated?

Okay George,

Your post about Red Skelton is very helpful. It can be like a persona playing various roles. Red played multiple characters, but if we think we know Red because we know his show, we are probably very mistaken. That's good!

I do need to figure some things out about my character. Like, am I bumbeling and the magic mysteriously happens around me, or am I smooth and amazing, or maybe I have, as you said, a few recurring characters that can stay consistent in their style. I'll pull them out as they fit what I am doing, assuming they are well received by the audience. Very good, any other thoughts?
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Tony Thomas

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George Ledo
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Okay, I think I see where you're going, but it sounds a little confusing at this point.

I guess my main point is that you should be selling yourself: you want your audience to remember you, not your tricks and skits. You are the one they need to like if they're going to care about what you're doing and want to have you back. I wrote about this elsewhere recently, about what makes celebrities celebrities and why we are so hung up on them. You need to be unique, yes, but unique in a clear way.

Good luck and please keep us posted.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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Jeb Sherrill
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Tony,

I think I get where you're coming from and yes, you can do that. I have friend who does his show three segments as well. In my own show there is a vast difference my speaking persona and my silent persona (which is usually costumed). In this case you are selling yourself as a character artist and magician. In the days of Vaudeville, this was a lot more common, but still doable if done well. Just play all parts well and you should do fine.

Jeb
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kregg
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Yeah Tony, knock yourself out. Just make sure that the transitions are strong.
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JamesTong
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Tony, you can also use the movie as examples for the role you are playing. Like a movie, each storyline, plot, character, etc would be different.

Your first movie is the 'fisherman'storyline. You can also choose a second or third story and different character or persona to create your 'magic movie', so to speak. This way of creating your act is more challenging but it will make you a good actor/performer.

Go for it.
Tony Thomas
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Thanks guys. Y'all have provided me a lot a great feedback. I'll keep digesting it as I develop my shows and continue to develop my style...
From the Encouraging Magic of...

Tony Thomas

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