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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Periods & styles of Magic » » Period appropriate magic, or just period appropriate materials? (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Slartibartfast
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When you do magic in a period setting, do you restrict yourself only to magic tricks that would have been done during that time period, or do you incorporate more "modern" effects but use materials that would have been around during that time period?
If you can pull it off in a biker bar without being violated by a corn dog, more power to you.
-- Gwyd, the Unusual

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Payne
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I prefer to do modern effects in a period style especially since my main period gig is at a Mediaeval fair. Thus making the documentable effects I could perform rather limited.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
ROBERT BLAKE
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I like to come up with effects which could be fitted into that period.
I am now trying to make an effect with Indian feathers for my western table magic.

I found color changing knives (Joe Mogar) bone & rosewood who are perfect for my style.
gsidhe
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I stick to tricks that COULD have been done during the time period. That means period materials but I don't restrict myself to known magic during that time.
Gwyd
Pokie-Poke
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I try to use period effects, but the method can be modern as no one should know this.
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The Adventure cont...
Big Daddy Cool
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Both.

BDC
Swing hard, swing often, and we'll catch ya on the Flip-Side!
John Pyka
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Jaz
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I find this statement interesting.
"do you restrict yourself only to magic tricks that would have been done during that time period."

First of all it's supposed to be magic, isn't it?

I can understand using props available in certain time periods but magic is something beyond props or time.
Slartibartfast
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I suppose so. You could also say that music is music, and as long as you use a musical instrument from the time period then you should be able to play music from any time period and be period appropriate. Some reenactors would say yes, some would say no.

In reenacting, there are usually two main philosophies - the first is that anything made from materials readily available at the time is acceptable. The second is that you must be able to prove, through documentation, that not only are the materials from the time period, but that specific style/design/whatever was being used at that time.

That was the main motivation behind the question. I am not very familiar with magic in the context of reenacting and wanted to see what people smarter than I thought. It appears that, for the most part, magicians feel the same as you - that magic is timeless and being able to document that THIS magician did THIS trick at THAT time is not important.
If you can pull it off in a biker bar without being violated by a corn dog, more power to you.
-- Gwyd, the Unusual

"YOUR Signature...speaks volumns (sic) as to your lack of understanding."
--T.V.
gsidhe
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The thing to really look at are the effects themselves. They types of magic effects are pretty universal no matter what the time.
Make things disappear (People, animals, objects)
Make things Reappear (See above)
Transportation of matter
Make things float, levitate or fly (Objects or people)
Mind Reading
Matter through matter (Linking rings, coin through table, certain escapes)
Make the properties of an object change (Color, size, from one object to another, etc...)
Make inanimate objects take on lifelike attributes or move(Haunted hanks, zombie balls etc...)
Causing harm to an animal or individual, and having that harm have no effect (Head off dove, guillotines and finger choppers, needle through arm...)
All of these are classic effects, performed for thousands of years in one form or another. The methods change throughout time, but the core does not. As many shamans, wizards, charlitans and holy folk did not necessarily write down all of their possible methods, we can only guess using the knowlege we have now. I do use some modern methods in my shows, but only those that could be done with period materials.
Notice I say "could" be done with period materials. There are some exceptions I will make.
I do a gaffed needle through tongue. Traditionally, this was done with a severed sheeps tongue.
Yuck.
I allow myself the luxury of using a rubber tongue.
When my audience stops using porta johns and pees in a bucket, I'll use the sheeps tongue.
I bathe before performances too.

Besides-If an audience calls you out for using a move that wasn't invented until 1996, you probably need to practice that move more, and your audience is probably made up of entirely too many magicians.

Just m'thoughts
Gwyd
Jaz
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Hmmmm...
Meatloaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" may not work in some eras. Smile

Magic transcends reality.
Not so sure music does.

While possible in magic, I'm not suggesting that someone performing in a medieval setting produce a modern object like a television or light bulb.

Oops! Just read Gwyd's post. Pretty much my opinion too.
Pokie-Poke
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I present my magic as a show not as real magic, as such I try to present tricks that I can document. If you present it as real magic, you are free to do almost any thing as long as it looks good.
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The Adventure cont...
CJRichard
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This really depends on whether or not you want to acurately reproduce a show as we know it was performed in a certain time period.

When I decided to incorporate magic into my period re-enacting, I researched the magic that we know was performed in the period I portray. Using that basis, I have added in some things that may not be accurate, but are similar enough to fit.

In 1778 nobody was doing Whit Hadyn's Mongolian Pop Knot, but they were doing effects with string and rope, so I'm adding Whit's routine with just a very slight change of a few words.

I don't think that I go so far as to doctor up new obviously "magic" props for a period show. Early magic was done with what was on hand: cups, balls, eggs, string, knives, swords, sticks, bits of colored cloth, simple bags or boxes, etc. There more than enough stuff that can be done with those.
"You know some of you are laughin', but there's people here tryin' to learn. . ." -Pop Haydn

"I know of no other art that proclaims itself 'easy to do.'" -Master Payne

Ezekiel the Green
Payne
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Quote:
On 2007-10-12 14:16, CJRichard wrote:

I don't think that I go so far as to doctor up new obviously "magic" props for a period show. Early magic was done with what was on hand: cups, balls, eggs, string, knives, swords, sticks, bits of colored cloth, simple bags or boxes, etc. There more than enough stuff that can be done with those.



Well where's the fun in that? Doctoring up modern props is a lot of fun. I've made a "period" Grant's Comedy Egg Bag where the design for the final chicken reveal is out of the book of Kell's. I've a Medieval, Renaissance Die Box which is now a reliquary and even a period What's Next? which was written up in Aprils Silly Billy column in MAGIC. I've re-built my Deans Box in a more Victorian Style for my Poe Show and I won't even go into all the specialized props I've built for my Harry Potter show. Building Custom props is a lot of fun and I really don't understand why more magicians don't do it.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
gsidhe
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I am definately with you on that Payne!
I have boxes full of bought props, but I look on stage, and all I have is the stuff I built (Or at least significantly modified) myself.
I hate anything that looks off the shelf, no matter what period I am working in.
Gwyd
Bill Palmer
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There is a big difference between performing as a reenactor and performing as a paid performer at a Renaissance Festival or a place like Colonial Williamsburg.

There are some reenactors that are referred to as "thread counters." These are the ones who will toss you out on your posterior if you have any fabrics that are of a type not used during the era. When I performed as Hocvs Pocvs, my costume was made from what looked like authentic wool of the period. It was actually 35% polyester. But the fibers were done up to look like the real thing. Even the most serious thread counter didn't spot it.

Let's consider for a moment the cups and balls. One fellow went through the trouble of having a company in Pakistan make "authentic leather cups as shown in early magic books." Baloney! The earliest cups shown in any magic book were made of brass or Crooked Lane plate. I sent him a drawing of an authentic cup. He had them reproduced, then, evidently did not purchase the reproductions. The irony of the situation was that this same fellow lied about the cups, saying they were a special design of his own. They were available in Germany for € 1.00 per cup. They were ordinary dice cups.

Could cups of this type have been used during the Renaissance? Sure. But it would have been unlikely.

My philosophy was that if an object existed during the period, somebody probably did magic with it. So, why shouldn't I? Most of the parlor props in Hoffmann's books were patterned after things that were found in better English houses. The same is true, to a certain extent, to the items in Sports and Pastimes.

Some magicians probably did things that they did not write up, simply because they wanted to keep them for themselves.

BTW, when you do Civil War reenactments or the like, are ALL of the musical instruments that are played there actually like the period instruments? Or do they have Asian made banjos with resonators on them and modern guitars with truss rods in the neck? If they do, them bring out your vanishing cane and to H___ with them! In that case, they are hypocrites.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Pokie-Poke
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The danger in being a "thread counter" is who are you doing it for? When working on some thing for my self I try to stick to what would be at hand for a performer of the time. It gives me a respect for those who came before me. However if it is a paid gig, it is my job to use what I can to wow them. I know some S.C.A. musicians who go as far to make their own instruments for the same reason. They would never use them at a paid gig, but for there own use and for the sake of living history.

And I'm with you all on the making your own props. If for no other reason than it's fun, and inspires me to come up with new Ideas, presentations and the like.
www.pokie-poke.com
The Adventure cont...
Philip Hilton
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I use only materials that could appear to fit the period and if possible, which are from the period. This is of course easier with some periods. In my case I do some 1940's and this is easy, as I have a pretty good collection of genuine items. Technology apart there really is very little that is really brand new. It’s the way a thing is presented in my opinion. My aim is to entertain and so I do try and fit in as much as I can.

If it’s an educational show, then for me it is 100% right down to the papers I carry, which in the case of wartime Britain includes ration books, medical card, ID card etc and all filled in my name with official stamps etc. This I feel is important as my character is a time traveler and in the eyes of the children has to blend in with the past time.

But of course just because something wasn't available back then, doesn't make me leave it out of my act. In my view any magician at any time would use anything in order to reach the desired effect. So if I have a thing and it will blend in and work, well then I use it. Also the other thing which gets me, is that reenactors will walk around in genuine clothes which are in such a state that at the time they would have been thrown away. Now I wear clothes which look the part, but are clean and new. I mean if I'm supposed to have just stepped out of the 40's and look like I've slept out in fields for a month, or three, well the kids are not going to think much of me.

So for me it’s a fine line. For example I wear armbands, helmet, carry gas mask, badges, torch, whistle, money, magazines, etc. which are from the period. It works for me.

Just my thoughts.
Cheers Phil
Silly Walter the Polar Bear
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When I do my "spaceman from the future" magic act, all tricks can be done since they have technically already been invented.
gsidhe
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If you do some that haven't been invented yet, make sure to bring back methods.
Of course, that would change the space time continuom, contmu, contamin...Future thingie.
And then someone would have to come back from the future to kill your mum so you wouldn't be born and cause some degree of exposure.
Not worth the risk...
Gwyd the futurephobic
ASW
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Quote:
On 2007-10-19 15:51, Silly Walter the Polar Bear wrote:
When I do my "spaceman from the future" magic act, all tricks can be done since they have technically already been invented.


LOL.
Whenever I find myself gripping anything too tightly I just ask myself "How would Guy Hollingworth hold this?"

A magician on the Genii Forum

"I would respect VIPs if they respect history."

Hideo Kato
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