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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The words we use » » Setting the stage / rules for performance (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Jonathan Townsend
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How do you folks set the ground rules for the audience when you perform?

How do you communicate these rules to your audiences/

How do you manage honest and spontaneous transgressions of these rules by audience members? <-- not talking about hecklers here.
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landmark
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Environment;

Relationship;

Objective;

I can be more specific if you are Smile

Jack Shalom
Jonathan Townsend
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Thanks Jack

Sometimes at the bar or at work or when out with friends I add to the social circumstance by doing some magic. So this is rather informal closeup.

The relationship is informal and unpaid

The objective is to make room for doing a trick or two.

I get some odd reactions part way through routines where folks buy into the premise and start reacting as if stuff were real.
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landmark
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Not sure I understand all the variables here, but I can throw out a couple of ideas which others may wish to pick up on.

In an informal situation, the fun for me is to just have things happen that are unexpected. So from that point of view, there is really no audience management issue. The stuff happens--the spoon bends, the salt shaker vanishes, the coin appears in the roll-- and I'm as surprised as they are. Again, since this is an informal situation, my objective is simply to entertain, rather than to promote my own powers (no value judgment here, just saying that in an informal situation, for me, it's just about friends having a good time.) So, if people freak out a little, I'm free to laugh and enjoy the moment. And as I said in a different thread you started, I feel free to reply "Yes," when asked if it was a trick.

In a more formal situation, I like to be more ambiguous about my relationship to the magic that has occurred. Then, it is partly about promoting a particular persona. In a more formal setting, the environment itself communicates the ground rules, if set up properly. Assuming your audience is not children (and then it's a whole different ball game) the physical set-up and context is important. If you're performing in a theatre on a stage, the range of audience "transgressions" (and maybe you can give some examples of what you mean here) are pretty limited. On the other hand, I can imagine someone working in a night club setting would need to be very clear about boundaries.

Well I'm not sure if I've addressed your topic, but that's my interpretation.

Jack
Jason Fleming
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Quote:
On 2003-10-23 21:09, JonTown wrote:

I get some odd reactions part way through routines where folks buy into the premise and start reacting as if stuff were real.


Are you concerned that people are becoming uncomfortable because they think that your effects represent some supernatural phenomenon?

If so, and you want the tension to dissipate, a simple "doesn't that look real?" or similar implication of illusion can decompress.
Jonathan Townsend
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Jason, that is a good line and would work if the performer is doing 'tricks'. If the character of the performer is supposed to be doing magic, that remark would be out of character.

I am more concerned about how to set the group environment around the coffee table to find a compromise between 'grab/say what you want' and 'stay back and sit quietly or I will turn you into a mouse'.

****

Nov 7, 2003
Cat got your tounges? Turned into mice?

Perhaps some clarification would help. I NEVER make any worded claim to be using supernatural powers for mundane amusement OUTSIDE a performance. At the outset I make it quite clear that this is entertainment and just pretend.

Somehow folks are buying into some of the material.

This is an example for discussion: Imagine telling the group you have a wormhole connectng your right and left outside jacket pockets. As if to demonstrate you take a playing card off the top of the deck and slide it into one jacket pocket, and then reach into the other pocket and pull out the same card. You then borrow a ring or coin and drop it into one pocket and pull it out of the other.

Here is where folks get upset and demand to put their hands in my jacket... and they are not looking for a card or ring. They want to feel what it's like to put their hand in a wormhole. This is the type of issue I'm noticing.

Until recently the last time I saw this kind of thing was after a show where a magician did the Asrah levitation ... on the way back home... someone asked me if the woman was really hypnotized. I was flabberghasted.

What are your thoughts?
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JimMaloney
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Jon,
You may wish to bring up this topic next time you're talking with Wes. He has some definite ideas on manipulating the fourth wall and audience control.

-Jim
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Erik Anderson
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Much of an audience's problematic behaviors can be addressed in much the same way you would with a toddler, namely by using distraction and/or redirection. In practice this might be in the form of a non-sequitur or disarming line. The idea is to de-rail that line of thought or behavior before it is firmly anchored.

For instance, I have had situations where people have wanted to check my pockets. Depending on the situation, I've used a number of responses. If a woman starts reaching into my pockets, I take her hand and with as much earnestness as I can muster say, "I'm sorry dear, but I charge for that too." It gets a laugh (in the right situation) and gently lets them know that's off limits. Another line I've used (where the other would be inapropriate, is "I'm sorry, but the only place I get searched like that is the airport." Again, a light joke and a gentle reminder. It is a balancing act. What works for me might get someone else punched out and vice-versa.

Of course if the problem is (as in your example) people believing the wormhole really exists, just tell them they might not want to do that as the last guy that did reached in okay, but his hand never came back out again.
Erik "Aces" Anderson

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Bill Palmer
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Walter Blaney has an excellent line that he uses when a female spectator starts to "frisk" him after he vanishes the bird cage. "When you get through, it's my turn."

That stops them cold.
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Jerry the Great
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Bill,
I like that one! How about: "This looks like it's going to get fun. Should I book a room?". This would only work in certain situations of course (like when you mean it). Ha!
"What's wrong with you people? Haven't you ever seen a fool before?"

Jerry the Great
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