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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Rabbit from Top Hat? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Elton Litzner
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In the minds of the lay audience could there be a more quintessential effect then for a magician to produce a live rabbit from his top hat? Indeed this is the very thing they expect we are able to do.
And yet I have personally never seen it done. I have seen productions from mirror boxes, rabbit wringers, the circus wagon, and similar apparatus, but not from the top hat. Why?
When I walk into a home or school I am consistantly asked "Are you gonna pull a rabbit out of your hat?" The image is so iconic and synonomous with magic. I want to live up to my audiences expectations.
But also once the rabbit has been produced is there something magical that can happen with him. A transposition. Perhaps a vanish and reappearance. Like a "Where did the ducks go take apart vanish to a Bunny bucket re-appearance. I would like to hear your thoughts about rabbit magic. The pros and cons of working with a bunny on stage or in a living room?
stijnhommes
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Pro: For kids, nothing beats the appearances of a live cuddly bunny. Once you produce it and let them pet the rabbit, it's almost impossible to noticeably mess up the show.
Con: The bunny could dislike travel and you need to train it. You don't want rabbit droppings on the stage or in your hat.
Tony James
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Nothing is simpler than producing a rabbit from a hat. Just remember to keep it simple. I did this for more years than I care to recall.

Top hats - silk hats - are much smaller within than their outside appearance. The lining and stiffening take up much of the unoccupied space above the hat band where your head fits. It's a narrowing tube.

A folding opera hat is similar but without the stiffening - the hinged spokes within the lining provide the rigidity. However, an opera hat is usually waisted so narrows around the central area.

Like for like, size for size there is just a fraction more room within an opera hat rather than a silk hat. I am talking about the real, genuine article - not some theatrical prop.

From time to time over the years I have seen various prop hats produced for magicians which do not follow the classic proportions of a street wear hat - much taller and wider.

But the plain fact is a top hat of any normal looking size will only hold a small rabbit. The standard 2.25 lb weight Netherland Dwarf will just fit comfortably into a UK hat size 7. As our shoe and clothes sizing terminology varies you need to check out the American equivalent. Silk hats are worn for dressage so check out equestrian centre shops but be very careful- dressage hats are often low, squat and flat unlike traditional top hats. Look around secondhand shops - you can often find them there but the genuine thing can be very expensive.

And remember, a silk hat is rigid and needs to travel in a hat box. An opera hat folds and travels folded - use a cloth bag for travelling - but also remember you should remove it at home and keep it stored open, as you would spring goods and Botanias.

Getting a rabbit into an empty hat in front of a close-up audience of eagle eyed children is not practical. Forget wearing formal white tie and tails with a rabbit loaded into a tail, sweeping your hat off, down and behind and tipping the rabbit into the hat in the classic manner of our Victorian forefathers. You're not on a stage now!

Train the rabbit to sit in the hat on your table. You start by sitting the rabbit on your knee until it get used to you, the domestic noises of your household and the artificial situation. Some quickly settle, some don't.

Then take the rabbit out with you to shows in a confined carrier where it can't see out and leave it, behind a piece of furniture or your case or whatever. Get it used to the noises of excited children. Don't bring it out. Then you can progress to the actual production training.

Put it in the hat and cover it. I always used my egg bag over the top with a tray on that with a light weight. That way, after a few attempts to push up the weight above, the rabbit settles. In time you should be able to remove the weight and the rabbit won't notice.

My 'production' was very simple. I picked up the empty egg bag off the hat and started my routine. The rabbit stayed where it was for a few moments and then stuck its head up over the top of the hat. It always looked straight at the children. There would be a delay of a few seconds before the children noticed. Or to be exact, one observant child noticing. Then they all did! It is simply a matter of gently lifting the rabbit out of the hat which is discarded.

Don't become concerned with proving the hat empty or creating miracles. The rabbit itself is sufficient and eclipses any gilding you can think of adding. In fact, the rabbit is so strong anything which follows is an anticlimax - nothing can follow the rabbit for impact.

That's why it should be left till the end of the show. For most rabbits the hat is ideal rather than box tricks where they are less confined, more likely to move and reveal their presence. Keep it simple.

We have recently here been through the possibilities and pitfalls of subsequent vanishes and reappearances when working singlehanded. It is difficult as the vanished rabbit usually needs releasing from the prop, especially where a bag is involved. Take a look through the last couple of pages of posts - it's all there.
Tony James

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hugmagic
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Tony has hit many of the points on doing this. I would differ on how to handle the opera hat thought. I used a flat cardboard box about 1" thick. The hat just slides in.

I have only seen one guy doing this live in the 30+ years. It was done with a silk load and hat. Actually, you do not pull the rabbit from the hat. You drop the rabbit into the hat from a load bag. Or you pick up the hat, set the silks to the table and release the rabbit. I prefer the latter as it is easier to handle the rabbit. I think in the layman's mind, it still came from the hat.

With Jessica working with you, it should be easy to make the steal. There are several different load bags. One of the easiest is rings in each corner gathered up. Abbott's used to make a good bag also.

Best to Alan, Jessica and yourself.

Richard

BTW, there is a bag for sale in the sale section.
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
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jimhlou
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Well done, Tony.

Jim
Dennis Michael
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Yesterday, I just got a great idea from Jeff Carson, a children entertainer in our KIDabra Chapter. He suggested buying a flat snap box from staples and when put together it act as a rabbit production box from the standard steal using the lid as a cover and a rabbit bag. (This is not exposure because you need to know what I am talking about to understand it.)

I suggested putting a flat pop up hat into the box. Audience sees a box being created, a flat hat popping open placed in the box, the lid going on, saying a magic word and taking the hat out of the box then producing the rabbit.

The best thing is that it is light weight, packs small and it appears it will play big. The hat and rabbit bag are also small and flat. I am going to do this and see the reaction.

Because I use a rabbit bag, this trick will be used early in the show with using the rabbit later in the show for another trick. (The rabbit can stay in the box during the show.)

See Snap-n-Store Red Medium General file box
Dennis Michael
B Hackler
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Thanks for the great idea Dennis.
Wizzo the wizard
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Tony, great write up! & Dennis thanks for sharing a good idea!

Louis
Tony James
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Richard - you are correct. One of my opera hats came in its original flat, oval cardboard box. Just like a full size gentleman's hat box on flat. But it's the only one I've had like that. My silk hat came with it's leather box, rectangular, like a heavy old fashioned beauty box, fitted and lined inside with two velvet rubbers to polish it.

My suggestion to travel the opera hat flat in a cloth bag (to keep it clean) was simply that I have always travelled props in custom made cloth bags - they are very simple to run up on a domestic sewing machine.

Awkward props can be wrapped in soft cloth. A bale of cotton drying up cloths make cheap and effective separators.

Interesting suggestions re loading the rabbit. Mine were always quite a tight fit and of course my system allowed the rabbit to appear with me away from it. It just goes to show there are always alternatives.
Tony James

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billappleton
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I like the whole idea of rabbit from hat proposed for the thread

I guess I'm wondering about the best high tech way to get this done

there has to be some loading systems etc, right?

more along the lines of what dennis was saying.

is there a book or gimmick to recommend?
Mr. Woolery
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Two other methods popularly available:

Patrick Page's Big Book of Magic, in which he uses a derby hat (would work with any hat, really, so long as you can put a liner in it) which starts with producing a lot of silks and using those as cover when you slip the rabbit in. Simple, audacious.

The other is Mark Wilson's Complete Course with his Alakazam Hat. Essentially a square circle with the tube shaped like a stylized hat. As simple as you can get, really.

Personally, I think Tony's method tops both, though. Just the fact that the hat sits there for a while with nothing happening means that the kids accept it as empty. When that rabbit peeks over the edge, they would probably all have the impression that the rabbit came from nowhere! And what could be simpler than just lifting the egg bag off? The bunny does the work!

I'm not ready to incorporate livestock, but I agree that it would be about the strongest thing I could do with a group of kids. I'm paying attention just because I may decide to do this one day. I just don't want to take care of bunnies between shows!

-Patrick
Regan
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Don't forget Eric Sharp's method!
Mister Mystery
hugmagic
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There was a method in the Conjuror's Magazine by Jack Gywnne's son in law. Hi Tech is not always better.
Sometimes it is better just to do it than worry about some complicated method.

Paul Daniels had a very intricate routine that was very entertaining but it had a lot of technology that made it work.

Richard
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
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Jay Ward
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I love the post Tony! That is the most useful post I've read in a while! Thank you! I remember reading somewhere that the kids don't care how you produce the rabbit, they just want to pet it. I've found that to be very true. I use a school bus drawer box, but have been thinking a lot about using a hat method. Thanks again!
Elton Litzner
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Thank you Tony, Richard, Dennis, for sharing. I loved Tony's method of having the rabbit loaded in the hat with the egg bag. I also will be working on the steal from the bunny bag. I agree that there is nothing stronger then producing the rabbit from the hat, and therefore would like it to be my closer.

The safety and comfort of my rabbit is very important to me. If my show runs 30-45 minutes. I can't imagine it would be good to keep a rabbit loaded in a bunny bag or a hat for that length of time. What is the best way to handle the situation if I was working without an assistant?
Dennis Michael
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Quote:
On 2009-11-04 06:12, Elton Litzner wrote:

The safety and comfort of my rabbit is very important to me. If my show runs 30-45 minutes. I can't imagine it would be good to keep a rabbit loaded in a bunny bag or a hat for that length of time. What is the best way to handle the situation if I was working without an assistant?


I've said this numerous times in other posts, we are dealing with kids shows, not a full blown theater style "every second counts" show. Near the end of the show, I tell the kids I forgot to bring out a trick, and it has to do with a rabbit but you don't want to see it do you? (Yea rel loud) Do you really want to see it? (Now they are screaming. It's behind the curtain, I will get it before you can slowly count 10 down to 1, ready go. (I reach back pull the rabbit from the top of his carrying case and place him in my rabbit box in those ten seconds.) The effect out-ways the "lack of transition" from one routine to another.

I know several other Magicians do this. It works best if you are producing a rabbit at the end of the show. It does not distract or diminish the performance. I haven't been asked by any "Pet lover" if I treated my rabbit right. The client knows I have a rabbit and sees me bring it in a cage.

BTW, I bring out my rabbit box with a fake rabbit which the kids seem a little disappointed only to reverse this letdown with a live rabbit. Also just don't produce the rabbit, talk about the rabbit, it's care, it's name and if possible doing a trick with you. (Some rabbit pull a card out if put near their face.)

A second method is producing the rabbit in the beginning of the show placing him in his cage behind a table, then using the rabbit later in the show near the end, for another routine.
Dennis Michael
magicone
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I used to produce the rabbit from the hat until it grew to big for the hat Smile

I simply put the rabbit in the hat (behind my lefler case) prior to the production and asked what comes out of a magic hat? and pulled it out, never displaying the inside of the hat to be empty. Earlier in the show I pull everything out of the hat but a rabbit so there might be some perception there that the hat is empty but when the children see that rabbit all the heat is off the hat.

I now do a balloon pop to rabbit and it has more bits of business and helps build up to the rabbit production. You'd be surprised how many adults come up and ask "how did you do that?" or "where did that rabbit come from anyway?"

Great stuff!

Click here to view attached image.
Dennis Michael
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You are correct David. I had two plastic "Ice bucket hats" from Target online store in the back of my Lefler table I simple took a fake rabbit out of the hat showing it empty, placing the hat behind the table and then bringing the other hat one with the rabbit in it. It only works with a dwarf rabbit

A simple switch that went unnoticed.

BTW I bought the Snap-n-Store box from Office Depot (Black) for $10.00.
Dennis Michael
John Breeds
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It takes quite a bit of heavy misdirection and nerve to load a rabbit into the hat in the first instance without getting caught! The work-around is NOT to load the rabbit into a hat directly but initially from a bunch of silks.

First, the silks are produced from an empty hat. The rabbit is stolen under cover of the bunch of silks. The bunch of silks and the rabbit are then placed into the hat. The concept of producing a rabbit directly from a hat is very similar.

Below, shows a link to a section in my book: How to Create Kids' Magic'. It's a funny routine for children, which has them laughing, shouting and gasping with amazement.

Wabbits_01

John
Dennis Michael
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John,

I love that method and have done it for years. For the sake of the rabbit it must be done early in the show.

I want to do it more directly instead of hiding it in the silks, hence the new idea with the snap-n-store "hat box" and use the lid like the silks, then just take out the hat with the rabbit in it.

I also like the Clear Drawer Box for a Rabbit Production, and the Mail box Production and the Travel Box production.
Dennis Michael
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