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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » What happened, was this... » » A formative experience about stage presance (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of Cyberqat
This is a story I often tell when discussing any sort of performing or stage work.

To set the stage, so to speak, this ocurred at the end of my freshman year in highschool. I had moved at the start of the term from Great Neck, New York-- where at least in my childhood every block had at least one kid who was fooling around with magic, to Madison Wisconsin where magicians were a sight rarer. (Despite the Houdini/Appleton connection.) I was hitting the end of my first year as "that kid from new york" when auditions came up for the annual charity talent show.

I screwed up my courage and auditioned and surprised myself when I made the cut. You see, I had been seriously amature since I could barely walk (thanks to the marvelous Al Flosso), used to practice and build routines and shows all the time in my room,and had been practicing coin slights all day since junior high. But I had never actually done a "gig" before. The most I had done was a few slights around a table for my friends or shown my big brother my "latest trick".

But I was in with about a 15 minute silent/musical stage routine including a few of my own modifications to some standard illusions. The senior running the show knew a lot about theater and really helped my polish up my stage presence. We had some tux's donated by a local tux rental shop so I had my first experience of wearing a tux the night of the show. And if anyone hasn't performed in a tux, you should try it. A tux makes you FEEL like a magician... and here's the place where the story gets interesting..

My opener was a match to flower, which I would pin to my lapel after lighting a collapsing candle. I had rigged the collapsing candle with an internal silk so the next move was to do a candle to silk and stick that in my breast pocket. Very elegent, very chic, or so I thought ...

The music starts and I stride out on the stage feeling something that was both excited and nervous. I take the match-to-flower out of the match box and strike it. Something I had done a hundred times in rehearsal.... and the match doesn't light.

I try it again. It still doesn't light. The audience is starting to murmur. I try it AGAIN and it still doesn't light. The audience is starting to titter and I note with dismay that the head of the match is starting to wear off. I turn it in my hand and try once more.... and FINALLY it lights. The audience is still murmuring as I light the candle and blow out the match... and it blossoms into a red carnation.

The room GASPS and goes dead silent.

From then on they were in the palm of my hand and it was one of the best shows and the best rounds of applause I ever got.

From that experience I learned TWO important performing lessons that have helped me everywhere from street magic to business. The first is, *never* *ever* admit a mistake or a problem. If you don't point it out, the audience 99 times out of 10 (yes that's not a typo Smile ) will not see it and its never really a mistake or error til you give up trying to fix it.

The second, is the power of drama. That sudden switch from painfully incompetant boob to magic man was what gave me that audience's love that night. Everyone loves it when the guy who seems down and out comes back on top. It gives them hope that the fates will do the same for them someday. Smile
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
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Profile of Rodentia
Turning a negative into a positive and making yourself better while entertaining the audience...is there anything better? Smile
Fire is a demanding Mistress...

Brent McLeod
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Profile of Brent McLeod
Great story. We all go through that at some stage,but good point,never let the audience know if a mistake occurs, you can most times get
out of it....
Brian Epstein told the Beatles-You always play better in a suit...

Many days prior to a show your tired,set up in a strange venue but by the time you shower,change into performing clothes etc,your ready to go..
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