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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Periods & styles of Magic » » The Origins of Pop Haydn's Persona (69 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Pop Haydn
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Backstory isn't just about direction. The character lives in the story. As you imagine yourself into the story, you need to follow the details of the story that lead you into this scene--the events and details that bring you in front of this particular audience. Most performers neglect this important thing.

If an actor is portraying a surgeon who comes out of the Operating Room to give the family bad news, he doesn't just swing the doors open and enter the room. He needs to imagine the past ten minutes, losing the patient, cleaning his hands, thinking about what he will say to the parents, wondering what their reaction will be, taking a deep breath and preparing to face the next room as he pushes open the doors...This type of immersion is what makes the actor seem to be real and believable the moment he walks into the room.

In the same way, the magical character has to know why he is here before this audience and what he wants to accomplish.

This is part of how an actor prepares.

The detailed movement of the imagination from detail to detail of the fantasy is what makes the body react emotionally.

In the same way that an erotic fantasy can produce physical changes in the body, the actor fantasizes him/herself into a detailed, step by step image of the scene, and the body reacts with the appropriate sensations and realness of feelings. The actor cries real tears for an imagined event.

There is a past for the character, and that backstory is important to the character, but the immediate few minutes of backstory that lead into THIS scene--the performance--are what is most important.

How did you get here, why are you here, what do you expect, what do you want from this audience, what are you here to give them, what do you think they know about you, and what do you want to keep hidden--all these are important backstory and motivational questions.
Anand Khalsa
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Hey guys! I am digging up this old thread to suggest to anyone interested in hearing more of Pop's invaluable wisdom and experience surrounding character, acting, and showmanship in magic, to consider purchasing Pop's recently published lecture notes from his acting and character workshop.

The PDF is titled "On Acting and Magic".

Here is the link to purchase it: http://www.popsmagic.com/store/p66/On_Ac......oad.html

I cannot recommend this highly enough!
Pop Haydn
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These are studies for a series of Dime Novels featuring Pop Haydn as an adventure character. The Sphere of Destiny is the crystal Pop uses in his Q&A act:

Pop Haydn and the Sphere of Destiny
Image

https://pophaydn.wordpress.com/2016/02/0......destiny/


Pop Haydn and the Vanishing Train
Image

https://pophaydn.wordpress.com/2016/02/0......g-train/
Pop Haydn
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Here is a more than two-hour interview on this subject:

https://www.artofmagic.com/blogs/podcast......isode-57
Rook
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I went to the Magic Cafe and all I got were these lousy
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I look forward to gleaning from this! Thanks for posting it!
Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.

-Roald Dahl
Pop Haydn
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Let me know what you think.
Pop Haydn
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Here is the first in a series of one hour podcasts on magic theory. This one is on Magic and Story:

http://www.popsmagic.com/store/p112/MagicStory
Anand Khalsa
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Thanks so much for posting these podcasts, Pop!
Pop Haydn
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Did you find it helpful, Anand?
Anand Khalsa
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Definitely!

I've been constructing a mentalism show and a key piece of the puzzle that I have struggled with is fully fleshing out my character, and the first podcast came at a great time.

As an actor myself, your thoughts on character/acting have helped me apply my experience in theater to magic. It's been a bit difficult to change my frame of mind from the format/context of stage productions to a magic show, but I think your advice has helped me in that process.
HeronsHorse
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Yes this is an old topic, however it will never become irrelevant!

Hey Pop.
I've just had the most informative 3 hours, drinking in everything you've written here, following the links, reading your websites and supporting 'evidence' and thoroughly enlightening and enjoyable it was too. Most of all, educational.
What you've said about character development and on-stage persona has got me thinking in all kinds of directions. I just want to sit down with you and talk for hours!
I'm only 2 years into practicing and learning and, due to various reasons, *HEALTH* I can't do my own show yet. Besides, Im not ready. But that's another story. My point here is that what you offer to someone in my position is so valuable, on a par with what I'm reading in Henning Nelms book or some of the Fitzkee trilogy. The theory of performing as a magician. Your words read like a modern update on those same texts and I'm like a sponge with all of this, evaluating and soaking it up. My Skeleton plan is to become technically brilliant(yup, unpopular maybe but that's how I want to do things), then build upon my performance ability -as myself, an easy going character who makes people laugh and is self-deprecating in a more British way, though maybe not as much as Morrissey Smile . Definitely not pompous and no showing off allowed, which I dislike in a magician and think it can be so off-putting. I already love the play between myself and the audience. Note, I've only performed to small informal groups in Cafés or bars or even in the street but I've felt the same play as I've seen described and read about. I would love to see this play evolve theatrically, if you like. The thing is I've toyed with this whole concept of character a lot ever since becoming a true student of this Art. I've immersed myself and all along the way I'm getting a nagging urge to think of character: to explore this in some way. I'm thinking to do, as many old books suggest, some theatre work, then maybe get on the stage in another capacity. To learn to understand the stage and possibly explore acting within a character. I like the idea of mime that you mentioned. I never would've thought of that as being helpful. I've experienced audience in the past when I travelled as a young man and was a singing guitarist busker. Some places, you'd have a large circle crowd awaiting your first song and it was intimidating at first but I soon learned to adore the audience and the play between us. Instead of intimidating, it became my favourite part of the experience, the interaction.
I could go on but I'll stop there. Let me day this had been a wonderful read and has my creative spark firing, although probably the timing is off and perhaps the spark plugs need a little adjustment! Information overload!
Seriously, I can need ever get enough.
If you would like to add anything more to this thread Pop, please do. If anything I've said stirs any advice in your mind, don't hesitate to throw it at me.
Thanks again and I love the character. Well done on all the work it's taken. You definitely got there in the end.
Paul.
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Those who think that magic consists of doing tricks are strangers to magic. Tricks are only the crude residue from which the lifeblood of magic has been drained."
- S.H. Sharpe
TomB
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I wish Pop Haydn had his own TV show. I just absolutely love this character. Very well developed, loveable, and believable.

I am glad the politics and the backstory do not make it in the show, as I believe it would take away or would need to be re-written. I don't want to hear about time travel, but I am glad this Victorian era man is here right now. Although I agree Pop has a Teddy Roosevelt type character, I disagree that Teddy Roosevelt would be politically on the same side.

I love the southern authentic charm. I love the facial expressions. When Pops eyes pop out, it reminds me of eyes popping out of a cartoon character. I love the openness of the conman that believes the science is real. I love the patronizing attitude to the audience when asked to do the normal trivial tasks (of course the rope is normal, or I would not have given it to you).

I did not know Billy McComb played any characters. It was definitely good advice for Pop. I think Pops character will be studied for decades to come. It is the best magic character since Chun Ling Soon. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for taking the risk and creating Pop Haydn.
Pop Haydn
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Billy McComb was definitely a character. He intentionally changed his performing character as he became older, with help from Amazing Jonathan. He did not have a "fantastic" backstory like Pop. He thought of himself as a gentleman living by his wit and intelligence--which is in many ways what he was. He believed that a normal stage performance in talking magic is only about twenty minutes, and in real time. That is not enough time for a character to show an arc of character development. Billy felt that a slow revelation of character would be more appropriate. So when he came on stage, with his opening line he acknowledged his age--"It's pudding night at the home, so let's get this over with..." The audience would gradually realize he was a more clever and deceptive person than they realized at first, and finally he buries them with a killer effect like the slow motion vanishing bird cage. It is this gradual revelation of the triumphant trickster behind the fusty old man character that gives a through line and substitutes for character development.

Billy had several different "characters" during his career. They just all looked and sounded like Billy McComb. Remember, not every actor buries himself in his character like a chameleon. Many great actors would play many different characters but with their own personae. Jack Lemon was always Jack Lemon. Humphrey Bogart was always Bogie. The story they embodied changed, not their persona. Some actors have amazing range, and the ability to convincingly become someone with a different affect, dialect, gait and body language. In magic, it is difficult to engage an audience if the character comes across as phony in any way. For most magicians, they will seem most convincing if they play someone with their own voice and manner.

There can be a lot of unexpected difficulties when you play a character other than yourself in magic.
Wravyn
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Smile
Thank you Pop!
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Periods & styles of Magic » » The Origins of Pop Haydn's Persona (69 Likes)
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