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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Creative Crisis - Please help (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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TheGreatGalling
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Well, I was hoping for an opportunity to vent a little problem I am having and hopefully ask some advice from my friends here at the Café.

In my Newbie thread when I first joined as a member, I explained the reason I joined the Café was to explore a little more about what type of performer I wanted to be and which areas I should focus on. It has been over a year and while I have made headway, I still find myself sadened, dejected, and hopeless.

Please allow me to explain a little. I have been doing magic in some fashion since I was four years old. Ever since my Grandfather took me to a magic store and I figured out I could actually perform the things I enjoyed at my friend's birthday parties. Throughout my life, certain magicians have inspired me as I sharpened my craft.

About a year and a half ago, I fell into mentalism head first. I loved it, I loved the reactions it got and I began to do less and less sleight of hand, and slowly my magic, that I had spent 17 years performing, not only took a back seat, but left my vehicle entirely.

Now, I don't know what I want to do, who I want to be, and I am torn about who my character is. Am a mentalist that can perform seeming magic miracles? Do I scrap the magic entirely yet continue to bend metal? Do I want to simply be an influence and suggesstion mentalism who doesn't do any magic, or paranormal feats, only influence tricks and give up metal bending? Do I want to convey special powers? Let the audience decide? Make a disclaimer that I cannot read minds?

I have posted like this before, and the usual response is be yourself, etc. This is part of the problem because I feel if I can't even decide this, how can I be worthy to be part of the art? I always strive to be unique, but I do feel I put a lot of work in my magic just to give it up. But I also don't want it to hurt the impact of the mentalism I do.

Anyway, I suppose I really can't realistically ask another person to tell me what I am supposed to be, and it should be internal and my decision alone, but I feel I need some guidance. Is there any resources on the topic? Anyone in the same predicament?

Any help would be appreciated.

Joe
Jim-Callahan
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What do you like?

Type of movies, books, art.

It is from these things that I draw and create.

-Jim
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cupsandballsmagic
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Joe,
That's a concise and elegant post by Jim, you could spend a lifetime creating wonderful pieces based on that advice alone.

For what it's worth I think it's also worth looking at your particular skills and background and see if you can draw plausible explanations and skill sets etc from those, including other hobbies, pastimes etc. Drew McCadam's Making Money From Magic would help a great deal here.

Be yourself can sometimes sound a little like a cop out but if you think of mentalism as opossed to magic, if you are simply supossed to be able to read minds then you no longer have the excuse of "my cards are in the car" etc.

Staying in character can be difficult unless your character is an exaggeration or extension of your natural self.

I also believe that being ruthless with your material helps, does it fit my character, skill set, is it too unbelievable (depending on what you are going for), does it connect / create an emotional response or reaction?
Piers
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... and perhaps also, what TYPE of audience do you wish to entertain?

Piers.
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eSamuels
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It's a mathematical equation: desert + acid = ? (Who I am). At least the equation worked for Jim Morrison (and look what happened to him!).

Joe, your question is not isolated to magic/mentalism performers. Most people, at some point in their lives, question who they really are, and if their current path matches up with that persona.

And there's no simple, clean answer. Most people are an amalgamation of many things, and in a constantly shifting state.

As a performer, you need to determine who you are at this moment, and work/develop the material that best matches who that is (perhaps with a slight exxageration for performance purposes.).

If you are into mentalism, there's no set rule that you have to be a 'pure/naked mentalist.' Many performers incorporate elements from both magic and mentalism, but it's their personality that ties the two things together. If you're simply performing a series of 'tricks,' then, yes, transitioning from a dove routine to a prediction effect might be a little weird, but I bet someone like John Archer could pull it off (consider that a challenge, John)!

Be less concerned with labels and categories, and more focused on who it is that you are; what you bring to performing that captivates people, and the right material will follow (along with all the hard work of determining flow, pace, etc.).
Silvertongue
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Joe

You ask the right questions you just need to anwser them yourself and then ask more.

Fill in a Bio for yourself and your performing persona and note the differences.

Take some sort of definitive action that pushes you toward a result, like writing this post and trying some of the advice that seems to make sense to you.

Read, I found reading books by Bizarre performers and storytellers and watching performances helped alot.

I have been researching my charecter for nearly 10 yrs now.
For as long as space exists,
And living beings remain in cyclic existence,
For that long, may I too remain,
to dispel the sufferings of the world.
-Shantideva

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Floyd Collins
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Joe,
There are many performers who blend all of the above. Of course I am going to tell you to be yourself but like you said everyone will say this. Like many you have put the cart in front of the horse.
PM me with a list of the top 10 effects you like to do and a little description of each or you can post it here, I think the answer is within what you already know but have not taped into.
No one said it would be easy, or did they?

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Anthony Jacquin
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Who is demanding this consitency of character from you? On a given night I can appreciate you want consistency in an act but beyond that just do what you have to do to entertain.

What kind of audience are you typically playing for?

Anthony
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bobser
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I think Stan Corrected's answer was perfect. So perfect in fact that perhaps your answer lies outside either magic or mentalism. Keep asking the big questions and welcome to the quest that for many of us never really ends.

bobser
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muse
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Quote:
On 2008-07-16 12:57, Stan Corrected wrote:
your question is not isolated to magic/mentalism performers. Most people, at some point in their lives, question who they really are, and if their current path matches up with that persona.

And there's no simple, clean answer. Most people are an amalgamation of many things, and in a constantly shifting state.



I couldn't agree more. Don't worry about being the 'finished article' - the very, very best in any field - performance, sport, art, whatever - often seem from the outside to be 'complete' in what they do, yet very often inwardly they are the most questioning of themselves, their standards and what they do. To us they seem fully formed, to themselves they don't. And that's how they stay at a high level.

So for what it's worth, I'd say that being hard on yourself in asking those standards of yourself is in itself a good thing, BUT the other side of the coin is cut yourself some slack, allow yourself just to try things, to do things, and to succeed OR fail. As long as you're always questioning, you can avoid complacency, and you can just see what works and let things evolve, and knit together the things that succeed over time.

Hence the 'be yourself' answer, because no-one else will be able to know when you get to that point with the things you do that you feel completely natural with them.
entity
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Who Am I?.. is an existential question whose answer may or may not help you.

In your case, for the time being, it may be better to ask: What works for me?

Find out what your audiences respond to best from the things that you do, and develop your performance based upon that.

- entity
Silvertongue
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You will never know who you are as a performer unless you perform. That is the fact of it. Until you see how people react to YOU as PERFORMER you cannot even gauge if what your doing makes any sense out of your mind.

Try different things out. Learn new skills, there are millions. One I learnt is how to communicate with others on a deeper level. Another was voice coaching, another acting, traveling, people watching, cold reading, contact juggling, I took buisness classes which resulted in a $3000 grant from the Princes Trust.

I moved to L.A.

These are just a few things I've done since my journey begun and each one has brought inspiration, strength and faith along the way.

One day I hope to look back as others have done and note all the years I've wasted thinking about it when it was inside of me all along.
For as long as space exists,
And living beings remain in cyclic existence,
For that long, may I too remain,
to dispel the sufferings of the world.
-Shantideva

Engaging in the Conduct of a Bodhisattva
psychicturtle
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I have been through this to a lesser extent, and what I found was this:
I LOVE performing card magic, and I LOVE performing psych-illusions. I now tell my (close-up) audience that I do both, and I make a clear distinction between the two ('as you can see, this is not sleight of hand, this is different...'). I also give them the choice of one or the other or a bit of both and they love having a bit of control over the show they are getting.
This works well for me, as it allows me to do all I want. I hope you find your path soon.
jstone
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I've found that on my journey of self-discovery, I've learned the most from two different "techniques."

The first and probably most valuable is to have conversations with close friends where I ask them to pick apart pieces of my personality, or I ask them to tell me about any quirks I have, what they like about me, what they don't like about me, what would they change about me, etc.

The key here is to LISTEN to what they say. It always gets me thinking and prompts me to ask them more questions about myself, which always leads to self awareness. Remember, the eye cannot see itself. The best way to gain perspective on yourself is to get information from outside of your self.

Having said that, it may sound contradictory to "technique" number 2 which is self-analysis. The way I do self-analysis is two-fold. First, I would highly recommend you read a book called "Personality Plus" by Florence Littauer. Second, I will take 2 or 3 things about my personality or behaviors that I have and study them, read about them, and then finally, I try to summarize them by writing them down (or typing them).

It's the writing that makes a huge difference. That's where I really started to fine-tune and understand myself.

An example is my political thinking. I won't go into my persuasion, but I will tell you this. I've made several conclusions on political issues that make absolute sense to me, and when I hear other people have different opinions on some of these subjects, I truly cannot understand them. Their opinion makes absolutely no sense to me, and I can't understand how someone can think like that.

What I started asking myself was, why? Why am I so sure of myself, yet so are they? Are they thinking the same thing about people like me?

I then started reading books published by people I don't agree with, and my mind was opened, and I began to understand my positions better, and I began to understand myself better.

Anyway, this post is probably too long by now. Hopefully I've added some value.

Good luck in your quest.
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I believe you are driving yourself nuts by being tooooooo analytical and introspective....

Forget about your character..........me me me me me me me. And focus outside yourself and think about what experience you want to create for your audience.

The truly great performers, communicators, sales people know that is never about them but about your audience.

That is your starting point and finishing point...

There is no artist only the art.

Now stop moaning and go kick some ass.

Your character will fall into place effortlessly
Bill Palmer
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I wish there were some DVD's of Ted Lesley performing before the Parkinson's hit him. You would see a performer who did whatever it took to entertain the audience and did not care whether it was magic or mentalism.

He performed Bialla's Vanishing Radio. Then he did a mental routine. It worked for him. Why? He really didn't care what other performers used for labels.

Just do the stuff that feels right to you.
"The Swatter"

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jstone
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Quote:
On 2008-07-17 17:43, mindpunisher wrote:
The truly great performers, communicators, sales people know that is never about them but about your audience.

Being a veteran sales person myself, I know that you are correct. However, there is one thing missing from your statement. In order to focus on the audience/customer, you have to understand how to do that the best way for you.

For example, It's clear that illusions of levitation on stage and quick changes and vanishing assistants can make an audience gasp and leave them walking away with a feeling of awe and inspiration. However, not every magician can pull that off, because it's not "them." It's not who they are.

There are a lot of tricks that I don't do because they don't fit into who I am, and I don't enjoy them even though the tricks themselves are incredible tricks. For example, sponge bunnies. I know they kill, but I feel uncomfortable or out of my element when I do them. It's just not my style.

The same is true with sales. There are many, many types of sales people, and each of them can sell in a way that the others cannot because it is not "who they are."

When I sold, I was very direct and even blunt with people, and it worked. I did it with a smile on my face; my customers liked me, and I was very successful.

There are other sales people who take the more hands off approach of "I'm here for you if you ever want to buy something," and they did just fine with that, but didn't feel right selling the way I did and vice-versa.

However, having said all that, you certainly are correct that you don't want to spend so much time figuring yourself out that you never perform. But you certainly don't want to go to the other extreme of performing (or selling) without having any clue as to who you are as a performer.

Paradoxically, some of this stuff can only be found out by performing, so your advice of "Now stop moaning and go kick some ***" certainly has merit. You just have to be careful where you draw the line.
jstone
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Quote:
On 2008-07-17 18:00, Bill Palmer wrote:
Just do the stuff that feels right to you.


Absolutely! That's as important as the audience's reaction. I've actually dropped a couple of routines from my act that got really good audience reactions but they just felt awkward to me. I didn't feel like myself. When I feel like myself, I have more fun at the gigs.

Granted it's the audience reaction that matters, but who wants to do a job that's no fun. I like to enjoy my work, and in order to do that, I have to do as you (Bill) say which is to do stuff that feels right to me.
Floyd Collins
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Quote:
On 2008-07-17 18:00, Bill Palmer wrote:
I wish there were some DVD's of Ted Lesley performing before the Parkinson's hit him. You would see a performer who did whatever it took to entertain the audience and did not care whether it was magic or mentalism.

He performed Bialla's Vanishing Radio. Then he did a mental routine. It worked for him. Why? He really didn't care what other performers used for labels.

Just do the stuff that feels right to you.


YES ABOUT TIME SOMEONE SAYS THIS!!! THANK YOU!!!!!
No one said it would be easy, or did they?

Check out my all new book "Chicken Scratches" visit my lulu store for more information.

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/thecenterstage

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Bill Palmer
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Glad to be of service.

Now, about that nice, lightweight suit the Emperor is wearing....
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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