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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Clearly Impossible (6 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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soleil
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Hello guys,

I would like to know how difficult is for Clearly impossible illusion to be presented by a duo performers - illusionist and female assistant only.
I know it's challenging but would like to hear from performers who do it this way.
Feel free to pm me if you wish.

Thank you in advance.

Best regards,
"Art is the Artist. The Artist is God."- Goete
Zlwin Chew
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I don't own a CI. But I have seen it being performed. It's naturally a duo only performance unlike the Wakeling Sawing which you would probably need at least one or two assistants to help.

Looking from the acts I have watched, I guess it is rather straight forward in style and execution.

But that's just my thoughts.

Am sure some magicians who owns it will be able to give you better insights.
Blair Marshall
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Like most "thin" sawings it can be performed with two, but always better to have that extra helper.

Blair
"ShaZzam!"
John Martin
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Called "the most influential illusionist of our generation" Jonathan performs Clearly Impossible here as a duo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZanOJE06uw . Based on whose "experience" with this illusion would it be BETTER to have that extra helper?
Blair Marshall
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Hmmm...interesting I saw someone coming to take the foot box off of Jonathan, so I would say based on Jonathan's experience it is best to have a third party. As I said it can be performed by 2 but having the third is better. This does not mean that they have to be on stage the full time. For initial set up, the "move", and as used by Jonathan, the third person helping with the "clean-up"...getting the leg box off stage. So based on seeing hundreds of sawings, and the Clearly Impossible several times live, and seeing Jonathan's performance here, I still would say 2 is good, 3 is better.

If you were just performing it center stage and placing the leg box behind the unit and closing the curtain immediately 2 would be fine, but having such a simple looking prop on stage and keeping it visible for a while, is what, in my humble opinion, makes it truly amazing.

Blair
Blair Marshall
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If you wanted to have both sections left on stage you could also use a dolly as sometimes used with the covers for the Wakeling sawing, if the center was partitioned with a solid panel the top section could be placed on one side and the bottom on the other side and with a quick, slight turn of the dolly, the bottom could be moved to the upstage side and out of sight as you place it on it.

Just a thought.

Blair
John Martin
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One can't argue if you change the intent of your initial post. Oh well nothing new here.....
Blair Marshall
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Sorry there....."Like most "thin" sawings it can be performed with two, but always better to have that extra helper."

No change to comment, no change to intent, no matter what you would like to read into it. Jonathan has the third party which is what I have sometimes seen even if they are not on stage full time.

It can be done with 2, it IS better with 3 (my opinion). What do YOU think?? 2 or 3 which is better???


B
John Martin
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Not reading anything into it. The statement was ",but always better to have that extra helper". "Always" seems pretty definitive. The OP was asking to "hear from performers who do it this way", "illusionist and female assistant only" Since most sawings have more than two onstage participants in the performance, ie performer, saw"ee", and ONSTAGE assistant(s) holding blades, turning the prop, helping with the sawing, pulling apart the boxes etc, this is what I would equate "the extra help" to be. In the video I linked to, the entire performance was done by, as the OP asked about an "illusionist and female assistant only" No matter which way you want to skew it that, performance was done by two people. Having an incidental person standing by at the wings to grab hold of a prop does not amount to extra help in my mind, any more then counting the sound tech, light tech and all backstage riggers would count as extra help. If a stage hand places or strikes a prop, does that count as "extra" help in a two person performance? If that's the case then almost ALL performances would have/need extra help.

Which is better, 2 or 3, can ONLY be my opinion. I have no experience with a sawing and cannot comment on how it's best performed. I can say that I like the less cluttered look and the simplicity of just the two performers. Having said that I don't think either is necessarily "better". I do know that MOST classic sawings wouldn't look better performed by only ONE person though!!!
Sorcerer
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Don't forget there should be an extra assistant offstage doing certain secret actions I can't name here, so maybe could be 2 people on stage but Clearly Impossible is a matter of 3 or more people.
This modern Jonathan's performance looks really good and it has required for sure hard rehearsals to get the perfect timing with all the actions, but if you watch video carefully, you'll notice it's edited (maybe just a bit, but edited) Some small actions has been omitted on the footage (opening-closing the latches on tables and so on) so it looks more streamlined that it really looks live.
soleil
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Thank you all for your input.

I completeley agree with the possibility of 2 or 3 persons.

I think the best opinion would be Jonathan Pendragon's as a creator and having huge practical experience with this illusion.
I wrote to him on Facebook but still don't have any response.

Hope he will find this thread and kindly decide te bring some valuable information to complete our understanding of this great illusion.

Best regards,
"Art is the Artist. The Artist is God."- Goete
Blair Marshall
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As a follow-up I would search for other videos of Jonathan, you will see he uses 1 or more additional assistants
(note: on-stage) in many of his performances, as a matter of fact in the performance from his own stage show that he uses to discuss this illusion for his DVD series he uses 2 additional on-stage assistants, so 4 folks in all.

Blair
Aisling
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My name is West McDonough; I'm Jonathan's wife. Jonathan has forgotten his password here, and since we're in the middle of a Castle week and he's focused on that, he asked if I would stop by and fill in a little of the history. I'll see if I can get him to get a new password and pop in himself next week, when he has more time.

The videos with multiple assistants are all older, from the days of The Pendragons. The two-person (at least on stage) version is the one he does now, exclusively. About five years ago, when Jonathan was struggling to establish himself as a solo act and had finally decided to bring some illusion back in (as opposed to the pure-mentalism act he tried for awhile), Jack Goldfinger gave him a shot at a 15-minute slot in a Palace of Mystery show during Christmas week. He had just managed to work out a deal to re-acquire Clearly Impossible from the person who had bought it from his ex, and it was pretty much his only illusion at the time. We hired Liberty Larsen to assist him in the show, and worked out a routine based around the rings, sands, a snowstorm, and Clearly Impossible. Liberty, being a fabulous perfectionist, was willing to put in the rehearsal needed to make everything as tight and flawless as possible.

The decision to work on a two-person sawing was based on two motives, one idealistic and one more practical. Jonathan had never cared for the misogyny in so many sawings and, especially after the accusations that had so recently been made against him, he wanted to remove the violence and create a sawing that was much more lyrical and almost intimate. He talked about this in one of his Genie columns if you'd like to search out more about his thought process. But, admittedly, the mundane reality was also that we could only afford to hire Liberty. We just didn't have the resources to support a bevy of assistants.

Jonathan, Liberty and I spent a long afternoon/evening in my apartment brainstorming ideas as to how to reduce the number of people needed to do the illusion. At first we weren't sure it could be done while maintaining the flawless illusion Jonathan insists on. After a great deal of frustration, I threw out a suggestion that was initially dismissed, but when I tried to backpedal Jonathan stopped, thought a moment more, and decided it might work after all. It was actually a technique he'd used before too deal with a completely different problem, but sure enough, we were able to adapt it to something we thought might work for this.

We spent the next several hours perfecting the micro-moves necessary. Liberty always looks so serene and still, but she's doing an enormous amount of work, and she never forgets the tiny details necessary to maintain the illusion of stillness throughout. It also helps a lot that Jonathan is so blindingly fast on the key switch that even people very familiar with the technique have been known to miss it (it helped that he was now doing it at a completely different moment than he had before). For anyone who wants to try it themselves, I strongly recommend practicing until you can do it almost as fast as he does.

The debut of the new method was a huge hit, and we've never looked back. Some people miss the drama of the swords, but most seem to love the almost serene beauty and intimacy of the new presentation. An extra assistant would just intrude on the scene.

If we are working a small stage, Jonathan is able to dispose of the leg box himself, by the simple expedient of putting it behind a curtain leg. On a larger stage, such as the one used for Masters of Illusion (what that clip is from), he does prefer to hand it off to a stagehand, just so he doesn't have to travel so far from the prop. It's mostly an issue of timing — too much walking will run you out of music awfully quickly. But that's not at all the sort of assistance required by the original method.

As to which is "better" — well, that depends on your presentation. For Jonathan's spare, almost mystical version, we wouldn't ever want to go back to more than two people. If you prefer a more dramatic and flashy style, you may prefer the hustle and bustle of more.

We have discussed the possibility of doing a DVD elaborating the techniques and details of the two-person method, to be made available only to owners of of the authorized props (past as well as new). Let me throw out a question of my own: is there enough interest in the method to justify such a thing?
soleil
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Hi West,

Many thanks for you posting here.
I posted a simple question at the beginning as I am considering purchasing this illusion from Tilford later this year.
A nice discussion is born around that original question which proves there is some obscurity on this question but people are interested to know, think and understand better. This is great and one of the best feature of this forum.
Let me thank you for the valuable information you bring.
Personally I prefer the 2 people presentation.
After buying Clearly impossible from Tilford ( It is now an authorised prop if I am not mistaken?) I would purchase the DVD for the 2 persons workings if it is available from you for sure.
Have a successful run at the a castle and looking forward to yours et Jonathan's return here on the Café.

Take care,
"Art is the Artist. The Artist is God."- Goete
Blair Marshall
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Hi West,

Great insights.

Hope you will be here and able to share more in the future. Even thoughts of performing as a partner/assistant would be great.

Thank-you again for stopping by.

Blair Marshall
"ShaZzam!"
Aisling
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Thanks for the welcome. And yes, Tilford is authorized to sell the prop.

I will add one more big difference between the two methods, which I realize I neglected to mention: the 2-person method is more difficult. The bevy of assistants in the original version were not just there for show — each had a purpose. This one misdirected while that one happened to block something else. The biggest difficulty we had working out the new routining was the fact that that one person is now responsible for hiding everything (actually 2, since the assistant does her fair share, even while appearing to just lie still). It's why things like the fast switch become so crucial. You have much more cover for much more time in the original; in the new version you only have about one second, or 2 if you really need it. It's not as easy as it looks Smile

But, in my opinion, it's worth the work, because it's stunning.
Zlwin Chew
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Hi West,

Is Tilford still building this illusion? I am considering to buy one. But I have heard that he does not keep datelines. Is this true?
jimhlou
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Zlwin, Tilford is no longer in business
Zlwin Chew
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Quote:
On Oct 13, 2016, jimhlou wrote:
Zlwin, Tilford is no longer in business


I see. Thanks for the info. I wonder where can I purchase a Clearly Impossible now?
Scott Alexander
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Dan Summers makes a very nice authorized version.


http://www.danielsummers.com/clearlyimpossible.html
-Scott




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