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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Gallows / Hangman Illusion (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

BBunnell
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I have always wanted to do the hangman illusion ever since I saw Siegfried & Roy do it years ago. After a long time, with help from others, I came up with my version of the illusion, built on a limited budget. This was the first time it was performed and after watching it, the staging needs to be changed and other bugs worked out, like lighting mistakes. I would like any suggestions.
Thanks,
Bruce

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWLEAiP1CXE&feature=youtu.be
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Chad Sanborn
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Its too dark. I can't see what happening as everything and everyone is in shadow. So brighten it up some. It was boring. No spark. No showmanship. No nothing. Just blah.
You have no flair for the dramatic an you are trying to do a dramatic illusion. It seems as though you are out of your element here. And to top it all off, the music was bad.

Now,for some ways to improve.
It seems as though you are more of a comedy magician. So stick with it. Even in this illusion. It has a nice premise, at the beginning. She breaks a prop and her punishment is death...by hanging. Its absurdly out of proportion to the 'crime' that its funny. You and your assistant need to be playing this up more. It's a great opportunity to show off your acting skills here. I would at some point holler into the wings and have an assistant bring out a sign that says 'Help wanted'. And at the end, after she 'hangs' I would bring her out from the audience and have her run up on stage and give you another egg and then tear up the help wanted sign.

Just my 2 cents. Take it for what you will.
Frank Simpson
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I agree with Chad. This presentation had all the dramatic tension of a third grade pageant.

Effective presentation of this illusion requires that every moment threads into the next. This was a display of the large mechanical aspects performed in sequence, but there was nothing dramatically to justify the sequence. The cover up looks like a cover up. What is the dramatic purpose of these actions, and how are they (intended to be) communicated to the audience?

The doomed assistant doesn't look remotely concerned about the events about to transpire. Everything about her body language says "I'm here to help with the next trick!". What ought to be her character's reaction to the "sentence"? If she is nobly resigned to her fate, then her body language must tell us so. If she is terrified, then her body language must tell us that.

Any illusion, but especially an inherently dramatic one such as this, really requires expert stage direction. Someone needs to be the audience's eyes to make sure that every person's actions make sense, independently and in concert with everyone else's. And to point out that it just plain looks suspicious that the only black parts of the stage are behind and under the gallows. And to point out that it looks completely unmotivated to have the lights change so dramatically, and then restore without any rhyme or reason. A director worth his salt only allows the good parts to be seen on a stage, while removing or reworking the other parts.

The very best illusionists know to stay away from the effects that are not a good fit for them, no matter how much they are admired.
BBunnell
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Thanks for your responses and suggestions.

As mentioned in my original post, the lights being turned off was a mistake. At one point you can hear me ask for the lights to come up. Fortunately the audience was able to see everything. The camera does not do justice. Another bug that needs fixing is the stairs. They were to be removed when everyone comes down from the platform. I have also see now that there is no need for 3 people to be on the platform so the form will never be "covered up". Thanks for that suggestion.

As for playing it up more, you will notice that I made the mistake of editing out some of the byplay between us. Poor choice to post it with stuff edited out. I will repost it without editing things out.

What kind of music would be more fitting?

With these suggestions along with more I hope to get, I hope to be able to make it a better fit for me. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Thanks again and keep the posts coming!
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Bruce
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BBunnell
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This link has a video that was not edited as far as content goes for the illusion. It has the complete interaction between me and my assistant.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GSF2OIoZF0&feature=youtu.be
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Mike Maturen
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You could try "Welcome To My Nightmare" by Alice Cooper (with proper permissions, of course).

In fact, Cooper did a gallows illusion in his show...except he was actually seen hanging.
Mike Maturen
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Aaron Smith Magic
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I agree with Frank on the lighting. It's fishy that they go down, only to have you bring them back up again for no reason. Also, the byplay at the beginning with your assistant seems awkward to me. There is to much silence between lines. Maybe have some music playing softly in the background during this phase, and trim down the amount of time that you interact with your assistant. Maybe rather than 1:30 of talking, cut it down to :30 or :45, and go into the illusion. Just my 2 cents.
BBunnell
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Thanks for the comments. Just a note that the lighting was not to be turned down. Communication with the light tech was not clear. The lights were supposed to stay up for the complete routine. Another lesson learned: make sure everything is clear to everyone when doing tech rehearsals.
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Mike Maturen
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I print out tech notes for each show...that way, all they have to do is follow my written instructions (I even give cue lines, etc).
Mike Maturen
World of Wonder Entertainment
The Magic and Mayhem of Mike Maturen
989-335-1661
mikematuren@gmail.com

AUTHOR OF "A NEW DAWN--Weekly Wisdom From Everyday Life"

member: International Magician's Society
Chad Sanborn
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As for music, why not try the death march..Dum Dum Da Dum Da Da Da Da Di Dum...
PaulSharke
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Frankly, the theme of murdering, disfiguring or otherwise harming a woman for entertainment purposes is a blight in our art. We've filled our world with men who hurt women. Why should anyone who seeks diversion at their local theater want to see more of the same? (That's a rhetorical question; these presentations are indefensible.)
David Charvet
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When Virgil was on his 5 year (1952-1957) around-the-world tour with his big (26 tons!) illusion show, he closed with the Hangman illusion. After a month or so into the tour he took the illusion out of the show. He felt that there was so much death in the world that it was a real "downer" to use the illusion to close his show. He instead put in a circus scene which was bright and happy, as opposed to dark and dreary. Something to think about ....

And Paul, while you have a good point, (P.T. Selbit who invented many of the popular "dismemberment" themed illusions in the 1920's was often referred to semi-jokingly as "the woman hater") I think in just about every one of those illusions (except, maybe the Cremation illusion) the woman always triumphs and returns unscathed. Again, so much of it has to do with presentation and attitude of the performer and assistant and their working perception by the audience. If the woman is treated as an "object" then the audience will be against the performer all the way. If she is a "partner" (think of Jinger Leigh and Mark Kalin and their Sawing) then it can be a great bit of theater.
Blair Marshall
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David, it escapes me now, but do you remember which illusionist it was that built and discarded a Gallows in each location he played in Asia (I believe I read it somewhere)? I'm not sure if it waseither one of Virgil, Dante, or Goldin?

Blair
BBunnell
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Thank you all for your input. I will consider what has been shared. Some changes will be made.
By the way Chad, I loved your scat!
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paulapaul
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Bruce,
I’ll skip any notes on the mechanics and lighting, and will get on to music. Chad’s ideas are very solid. You actually GET A LAUGH when your gallows prop is introduced. Now, with funny bits to carry through and Chad’s funny ending, you can deflect a bit of critical thinking. Granted, there is a lot that needs to be done to improve the illusion. A big part can be the music, so here is my small contribution.
I can say that the comedy idea is good because, well, my Gallows was a comedy piece. I produced cigarettes, in spite of the No Smoking signs. Eventually, I was hanged for smoking. The music I used, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, put a good comedic spin to the presentation. Some music you may consider is something by Danny Elfman. He has composed tracks for Goonies, Big Top Pee Wee, Scrooged, Beetlejuice and many many more. These pieces of music will do half the work for you. I’ll send you a PM about them, too.
Good luck! This illusion is a lot to undertake, but it’s well worth the investment of time. Please send your future staging to The Café.
sb
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How about you disappearing instead of the assistant?
David Charvet
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Blair - I don't believe Dante performed the Gallows. Goldin had a similar effect but not a gallows as I recall. Virgil discarded his gallows backstage in a theater in Malaysia. The rumor was that several years later, Sorcar played the same theater and found the discarded prop, rebuilt it and performed it in 1967 on Garry Moore's "World's Greatest Magicians" TV special where Virgil & Julie also appeared. I asked Julie about it and she said "No" that Sorcar's prop was not Virgil's. It does make a good story, however!
Chad Sanborn
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Thanks Paula for backing me up!
BBunnell
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Thank you all for the suggestions. I agree that keeping the complete presentation a comedy. No need to get serious. I also agree with the music suggestions.
Thanks again.
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Bruce
numamagic@yahoo.com
www.numamagic.com
magictvlv1
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In some parts of the U.S. the idea of a gallows illusion may be considered bad taste. In the deep south it has strong racial undertones. Something I was aware of until I moved to Georgia.
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