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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workers » » Why is practice easy but rehearsal so hard? (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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ChrisPayne
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Having just "lost" 2 hours on practicing the DPS - (I only popped into my den for the membership card to my local gym but the pack was just lying there)......does any body else find it easy to practice but hard to do proper rehearsal - ie full performance with script. Any tips?
Ed Oschmann
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Get a restaurant gig, and perform the piece 20-30 times a night.
Mike Powers
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Ed's right but I too find the "dress rehearsal" a bit daunting. It takes me a long time to get my script down fairly well. In performance I need to feel that I'm not reciting the script but living it and that's hard. Also, I'm distracted from the technical things e.g. move the top card to the bottom and then do an Elmsley Count with last card on top since I'm still thinking about the script to some extent. And, as Eugene Burger said, "Thinking kills magic."

It takes a lot of practice to get to the point where I'm not thinking about either the moves or the script. Jazzing the presentation is much easier but then you end up using way too many words. Scripting allows you to get down to the optimum way of expressing your patter.

Anyway, I feel your pain!

In the end Ed's recommendation is the best. Repetition allows you to return to the script and refine it. 10 to 20 performances ought to smooth things out substantially. Eugene says that you need to perform something 1000 times to get it right! WOW!I hope that's an exaggeration.

Mike
Ben Blau
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Rehearsal is hard because you have to use imaginary participants. At least, that's what I find to be most challenging.
Mike Powers
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Very good point Ben.

The final stage of rehearsal is a "dress rehearsal" where you should be videoing yourself. You imagine an audience and you go through the entire routine or show. You must not stop. If anything goes wrong or you forget your script, you have to deal with it as you would if it were a live performance. This must be enforced or it's not really a dress rehearsal. In the end you watch the video and see how you dealt with any adversity. You get a serious dose of reality. What if that had been a live audience. How did you do?

Mike
martyjacobs
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Recently, I've developed a framework to force myself to script, practice and rehearse my magic tricks. Like most magicians, I was avoiding rehearsal. I call it the SPRITE Sequence:

S - Script
P - Practice
R - Rehearse
I - Improve
T - Test
E - Evaluate

The reason I refer to this as a sequence is that you should do it in order. In other words, you shouldn't practice a trick before you've developed a script for it, and you shouldn't test a trick (perform it) until you've rehearsed it at least 20 times as Mike describes.

I've written a detailed article on my website: http://bit.ly/1qAzfUP. I'll be adding more information to the article as my approach evolves. Needless to say, this simple idea has improved my magic tenfold!
Mike Powers
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I like "SPRITE." Nicely conceived. I haven't done it that way in the past, but you may be right about practicing from the script rather than working on the handling and then trying to integrate the script. Being forced to practice the moves while going through the script makes you think about timing and misdirection/direction right away instead of after you have mastered the handling. It becomes scripted-practice.

Mike
Mike Powers
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I just checked out Marty's more detailed article referenced above. I recommend that everyone interested in this thread read it. It's not long but there's gold in there. The paragraph quoting Eugene Burger on what's wrong with most scripts is some of the best advice you'll ever receive.

Check out Jay Sankey's "Zen and the Art of Stand-Up Comedy." He gives some great examples of the value of cutting out words. He says (paraphrasing)- think of this: "I was walking down the sidewalk last week and started to feel hungry. I saw a restaurant up ahead called Luigi's and decided to go in to get something to eat." Then he offers an alternative: He mimes walking, then looks up. He says, "Luigi's!" and mimes opening the door. WOW. What a difference.

Mike
warren
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For the most part when I add an effect it's usually because I either have a hook in mind or a funny line that I can use, this in it's self makes the rehearsing part easier, once you have the mechanics down etc there's the usual run it by a few people but at the end of the day as stated above nothing beats getting out there in the real world and performing it repeatedly from table to table,that is definitely where the effect truly is learned and honed.
Levi Bennett
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Rehearsal. I don't know if I find it harder, but it is much more of a pain in that you need to wear the jacket and pants you'll be wearing, have all your props set and keep going even "if" you screw up. Also, you need to do the talking out loud bit which might get you put away if you're not careful. Smile

Rehearsal is so very essential though; what good is the move without the trick? I'm not saying that as a teaching point, more talking out loud to myself. Rehearsal teaches you how to mentally persevere through mistakes, how to physically find a way out of the problem you've put yourself in, how to think about the mistakes later and correct them, how to improve your patter- I've come up with great lines in rehearsal that weren't in the "script" that I've kept in my act.

As for a tip or two- I will only do one or two full dress rehearsals per practice session if I'm preparing for a gig. Anything more just feels burdensome. Then, I can think about how those times went and make any corrections. I will do dress rehearsals for about a week before a gig- one or two per day/night.

Also- always remember that a script is more of an outline. It's great to know what you want to say and stick with most of it in performance, but interaction with your audience will almost always change your presentation somewhat so just be prepared to ad lib as the show flows along.

Here's another- If you're talking about close up in particular, but parlor and stage as well- rehearse doing your tricks towards both sides of your body if possible. That is, offer "someone" a card to your left and then in another rehearsal go to your right. You will find that some tricks you will have to always do to one side of your body depending upon the sleight you need to do or what pocket you need to access or whatever, but practicing doing tricks toward either side helps you to be prepared to get anyone involved from wherever they may be sitting.

Hope some of this prattle helps.

Theodore-
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Performing magic unprofessionally since 2008!
martyjacobs
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Quote:
I just checked out Marty's more detailed article referenced above. I recommend that everyone interested in this thread read it. It's not long but there's gold in there. The paragraph quoting Eugene Burger on what's wrong with most scripts is some of the best advice you'll ever receive.


Thanks for the kind words Mike, I've updated the article a little with more details, as I wrote the original a while ago.

I too find it difficult to work on the script before the handling, as this isn't what I usually do. However, my thinking is that if I don't do it straight away, I'll never get round to doing it at all. Also, as you suggest, having the script forces you to focus on your timing, blocking and misdirection before you get pre-occupied with learning the moves of a trick. It can even cause you to alter the method, so it makes perfect sense to have your script written before you start to practice. Also, a lot of the tricks I like involve a complex series of moves. By linking what I say to the mechanics of the trick, it is far easier for me to remember the method when I'm practicing and performing. Obviously, you can't do this if you don't know what you're going to say beforehand.

One of the hardest parts of a rehearsal session is treating it like it is a real performance, otherwise it's just another practice session. David Williamson suggests that your perform for a collection of stuffed toys because then it is easier for you to direct your focus at the toys, rather than non-existant spectators. I've always liked this idea, but I never tried it. I imagine if I got caught doing this, as a grown man, people might start to worry about me!

Theodore, some great tips in your post.
Mike Powers
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Love the Williamson suggestion! I'm going to pick up some stuffed animals at Goodwill. They always have tons of them. It sounds goofy but I am visualizing that it would be better than staring at a wall and pretending.

One thing that happens when you have a script at the outset is that you immediately find places where you need to modify the script to accommodate what's going on physically. I'm in the process of polishing a rope routine and found right away that there were places where I needed to beef up the script to give me more time to accomplish something with the rope.

Marty is right about the script causing you to focus on your timing. It works both ways, sometimes the timing causes you to alter the script.

Also, I concur with the notion that you must be able to leave the script and come back to it. Above all, it must feel like you're "in the moment." Stand-Up comics are a great example of this. It seems that they're just pulling things out of the air. But in reality they are usually tightly scripted. I mentioned Sankey's "Zen and the Art of Stand-Up Comedy" above. Check it out. There's some excellent advice there.

An excellent source of information on spontaneous interaction is "IMPRO" by Keith Johnstone. From the intro:

"Divided into four sections, 'Status', 'Spontaneity', 'Narative Skills' and 'Masks and Trance', arranged more or less in the order a group might approach them, the book sets out the specific techniques and exercises which Johnstone has himself found most useful and most stimulating. The result is both an ideas book and a fascinating exploration of the nature of spontaneous creativity."

Mike
martyjacobs
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Quote:
It works both ways, sometimes the timing causes you to alter the script.


Good point. I've also had to do this on several occasions. Not having anything to say when you're fiddling with your props is a very bad habit, and encourages you to stare at your hands when you shouldn't.

Quote:
An excellent source of information on spontaneous interaction is "IMPRO" by Keith Johnstone.


Cool, sounds interesting. I'll have to check this book out.

Marty
ChrisPayne
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What a great thread....thanks everybody, I will check out the resources mentioned.
Since getting back to magic "full time" (as in full time obsession and part time performer) my own real motivation is presentation and so scripting and rehearsal is everything - but I asked the question because it is so easy to just "play". I think that "play" or even focused practice is easy, mindless and can be rewarding - because you do see progress of a mechanical kind - but it is on "spinal reflex" level.. Scripting and proper rehearsal is a higher cognitive function and needs effort - but I guess we knew that!

Great acronym Marty
JacksonAces
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Nothing beats having a venue where you can work-in your routines with real live audiences... It is a few steps up from practicing in front of your mirror or to a friend, but the fastest way to learn...

Don't stick too tightly to your script and be willing to change it as you get to know the timing of your routines and where you should trim the fat or add (usually you'll be cutting rather than adding though). Your patter should sound natural and like it is coming from you, and so long as you know the concept of the patter you will be able to say the patter with slightly different wording (while communicating the same concept) and it will feel less robotic for you.

Hope that helps you Chris, best of luck with it

Jackson Aces
Mike Powers
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Good points Jackson Aces. I have seen performances that had snappy patter but felt insincere. The performer was clearly using canned lines and scripted material. It's like bad acting. When you see the acting, it's not going to work. You don't believe it. And insincerity in a magic performance feels worse. You know that this guy is going through the motions but doesn't really care about you.

Likability is a great quality. If you genuinely care about the people you're working for, they'll respond even if your presentation isn't stellar. Put likability and well worked out presentation together and you've got dynamite.

Mike
ChrisPayne
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It took me a while to realise that likeability is more important than just giving the audience a pleasant experience. If the audience like you they want your magic to succeed, they are on your side, emotionally engaged, rooting for you.... and that creates the drama and exhilaration when against the odds it works ☺
Mike Powers
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And conversely, when they don't like you they're hoping you'll fail and may try to screw you up. Sometimes big ego and intimidation keeps them from trying to screw you up for fear that you'll make them look stupid, but inside they're hoping you'll fail.

M
martyjacobs
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Quote:
Nothing beats having a venue where you can work-in your routines with real live audiences... It is a few steps up from practicing in front of your mirror or to a friend, but the fastest way to learn...


Although I agree with this sentiment, I don't think this should be used as an excuse not to thoroughly script, practice and rehearse your magic before you perform in the real world. Your audience deserves more than a clumsy collection of half-baked tricks.

This is a very thought provoking thread.

Marty

P.S. I've update my article on the SPRITE Sequence to include a little more detail on each step.
martyjacobs
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The above link no longer works, here's the new one: http://goo.gl/qwOp8q.
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