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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Real, LIVE, Audiences...A Dying Species? (13 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Mindpro
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So nice to see a post about the performing of mentlaism as opposed to just threads about effects and Penguin lectures. This has been sorely missing from Penny for a while. Posts about the art and industry are what used to propel this section (when workers and pros were here regularly) regarding things that matter to the entire community, especially for performers.

The Ringling Bros. is a great example of the sign of the times, although I disagree about it's belief about the elephants being a prime factor for its steady demise.
CurtWaltermire
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Thanks to Stunninger and DaveDee who shared the articles about Ringling Brothers. Definitely a sign of changing times.

The Feld family says that once the elephants were gone, attendance at their shows dropped sharply (whether it's actually true or not I'm using this to pose a question or three).

Has the art of mentalism experienced its version of "disappearing elephants?" Without getting drug into the debate of "real" or "not real", "shut eyes" or what-have-you, is there something missing or lacking overall in the performance of mentalism these days that may be responsible for any negativity as it's perceived by the general public? Are we taking ourselves too seriously, or not seriously enough?

I'm talking specifically about the performance of mentalism. Not magic or illusions.
Mindpro
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But that is part of the problem - magic and illusions. While mentalism has always been around in certain circles, it has never caught the prime spotlight enough to go the way of the elephants. Any recent popularity is from the magic bangwagon, who as many know are not performing true mentalism but mental magic. This is what many are considering and accepting as mentalism these days, and I think it would great if THAT were going the way of the elephants. I too am not looking to get into the whole magic vs. mentalism issue, but rather look at the current state we have before us due to it all.

I think what needs to happen is mentalism must reestablish itself, separate from magic, to what it has been for some previous generations. Psychic entertainment, ESP, mind reading and more true mentalism still holds great appeal and is not by any means over-exposed, jumped the shark or gone the way of the elephants. It's time to get serious about preserving what mentalism is, has been and should be as it's own form of entertainment from an industry perspective.
CurtWaltermire
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Something like a modern-day version of Kreskin?
Al Straker
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For me the issue runs deep and this thread has hit on something very pertinent to our society and the cultural age we live in. From an early stage of life we are taught both consciously and subconsciously to focus on an ideology of 'competition' with many popular associated societal concepts such as sport, technology, fastest, strongest, richest, fight for survival, cocooning (lessening of human & community communication, touch and involvement), and the list goes on. Add to that the over-sugared, under-nourished general population with shorter attention spans, plus a horribly broken and dysfunctional education system is all geared towards competition for better academic outcomes and promotion of technology as the most important toolkit of our society, it is little wonder the arts in general and particularly live performance are suffering.
Al Straker
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyGhApqnG7I

(Old clip, show has changed quite a bit since then!)

Jazz & Contemporary Musician/Composer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnN3JNmeKns

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU_zfOvpneA
CurtWaltermire
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Thanks for your comment, Al. The cause and effect of societal ills and cultural problems and how they're all connected is a deep well indeed.

MindPro, my reference to Kreskin was nothing more than another way of asking if you thought that perhaps the "re-establishing" of mentalism could come about with the rise of another superstar of some sort? A face that the public sees as representing it all? I suppose I could've used the name Dunninger, or Annemann or others from different eras, but Kreskin just popped into my head. I meant nothing specific about Kreskin himself, nor was I suggesting that he was the epitome of mentalism in general.

I'm preparing today and tomorrow for a show in Omaha, NE on Thursday evening for some real estate investors and I already know there are a few small difficulties present at this particular show (mostly due to venue space). Nothing devastating, but a little challenging nevertheless. I will be paying extra special attention to this audience especially since diving into this subject here.

It's not looking like I'll need my Richard Simmons gym shorts for this one, but I may take them just in case...
Mystic_master
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As Magicians we are granted a special gift. To entertain, to bring joy, to make people WONDER, to make others smile, to bring a form of escape from the everyday. To show people a trick or “effect” live in the real world, not on a cold digital screen. We can make people laugh, surprise people with a quick vanish or make people wonder if that which they just witnessed was really possible.
Our skills, practice, dedication to learning, reading and secrecy has protected and helped the art of magic to grow, and given you the skills to call yourself one of the sacred few, a magician. One who creates MAGIC. Magic isn’t an app, or a youtube video. It’s a living breathing concept, an idea, a spark of imagination. That lives in each of us.
Today a part of that magic, an allied art, the Ringling Brothers Circus has been taken away from us. Please remember, that every time you perform, whether it’s a packet trick for the 10,000th time, or your signature routine that only you perform; that YOU are creating real magic, in that moment for a real person. It may be on the ONLY magic that they ever see live in their life. Magic performed well, inspires, educates, and warms peoples hearts.
Learn the core principals of what makes our art unique, talk highly of other performers, regardless of your feelings towards them. Support other forms of live performance, and theatre. The world lost an important gift, generations of Adults and children won’t be able to see clowns, tightrope acts, jugglers or many types of mimes, or slapstick comedy acts with Ringling Brothers. We must adapt, be well dressed, well spoken, considerate and work to earn our audiences trust.
[The circus] was our brief season of imaginative life. In one day—in a part of one day—we gained a thousand new conceptions of the world and of human nature. It was an embodiment of all that was skillful and beautiful in manly action. It was a compendium of biologic research but more important still, it brought to our ears the latest band pieces and taught us the most popular songs. It furnished us with jokes. It relieved our dullness. It gave us something to talk about. . . . We always went home wearied with excitement, and dusty and fretful—but content. We had seen it. We had grasped as much of it as anybody and could remember it as well as the best. Next day as we resumed work in the field the memory of its splendors went with us like a golden cloud.
Like vaudeville, the chain store, the "cheap nickel dump," and the amusement park, the circus helped consolidate a shared national leisure culture at the turn of the century. But in contrast to these mostly urban forms of entertainment, the circus was ubiquitous in all regions of the nation, small towns and urban centers alike: from New York City to Modesto, California, to Greenville, Texas, to New Orleans, to Butte, Montana, to Mazomanie, Wisconsin . . . and on and on. Circus Day disrupted daily life thoroughly, normalized abnormality, and destabilized the familiar right at home, day after day, town after town.
No other amusement saturated consumers like the circus at the turn of the century. Neither vaudeville, movies, amusement parks, nor dance halls equaled the circus's immediate physical presence—that is to say, towns did not shut down in their midst. These popular forms were integrated into local economies and local systems of surveillance, while the railroad circus was an ephemeral community ritual invading from without. Contemporary international expositions capitalized on the public's fascination with distant cultures through ethnological village displays along the midway, but one had to travel to a large city such as Chicago, Atlanta, Omaha, Buffalo, or St. Louis in order to experience a world's fair. The traveling circus, in contrast, came to one's doorstep.
As actors, public speakers, entertainers, comedians we must all work to make all of the performing arts STRONGER. Break the stereotypical “crappy” birthday party magician image. Elevate all the arts, and take yourself and your work seriously onstage, online and where your travels take you. Practice, prepare, and execute your magic at the highest level.
Mindpro
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Quote:
On Jan 17, 2017, CurtWaltermire wrote:
MindPro, my reference to Kreskin was nothing more than another way of asking if you thought that perhaps the "re-establishing" of mentalism could come about with the rise of another superstar of some sort? A face that the public sees as representing it all? I suppose I could've used the name Dunninger, or Annemann or others from different eras, but Kreskin just popped into my head. I meant nothing specific about Kreskin himself, nor was I suggesting that he was the epitome of mentalism in general.



A lot of "magic" talk here.

Curt, I understood your reference to Kreskin and I'm not sure that the next superstar of sorts is the actual answer. That may be of value once other things are in place. Superstars typically only lead the perception with the general public and fans/wannabee newcomers. As we have seen this can work against us as well. This is why it is so concerning that so many magicians are getting on popular media claiming to be mentalists (without claiming abilities of course). Many are doing more damage that good to the industry as it's only self-fulfilling. This is always the topic of discussion at industry events and in producing, promoting and booking circles.

It requires a collective effort first, then a breakout star representing that can actually do some good for everyone and the industry.
Nat_lawson
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On Jan 13, 2017, Looch wrote:
This is a wonderful thread! I guess the younger generations cant hide behind their phone or iPad screens at a live show and often aren't sure 'how' to act at such an event. It is indeed a dying species Curt, very very true!

The majority of my audiences these days do tend to be older than myself (40-70) and they might be the last of their generation in that sense.


Looch, this is something that I feel very passionately about and you said it very well, but I feel that young people can be a good audience if you set it up correctly. I am 17 years old myself, and most of my audiences are between 40 and 70 as well, but my entire show is centered around looking up from your phone and seeing the people and the world around you. When I do my show in high-schools (prom lock in nights, and mid term celebrations mostly) I feel that directly calling out the "barrier" the media makes between the audience there own lives, they realize that it is true and try to engage in the world for at least the duration of my show.

I have no idea if that made any sense but my english is rusty and its fairly late here so I am just gonna post.

-Nat
CurtWaltermire
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Quote:
On Jan 17, 2017, Mindpro wrote:

It requires a collective effort first, then a breakout star representing that can actually do some good for everyone and the industry.


The topic/thread is about the change in audience demographic over the years (as well as the current state it's in). Is this happening on it's own due to a vast array of cultural changes or what-have-you, or is it happening because magicians posing as mentalists are ruining it somehow? I contend that the latter is just an esoteric debate/argument and is something that only people like us concern ourselves with, and the rest of the world doesn't really see the difference and just doesn't really care at all. When mentalism is performed well, people love it. When it isn't, it is looked upon with just as much disdain as a poorly performed magic trick.

Orson Welles in the interview with Dinah Shore above was making the case that real, live audiences were disappearing many, many moons ago. Then he proceeded to explain what defined a real audience (seemingly to the great enlightening of everyone there) so that everyone could see why this was so. I suppose it could be said that he was indirectly blaming the commercialization of everything with regards to the media of television, movies, etc. Though he doesn't really explicitly say that or point his finger anywhere specific.

I'm not claiming to have any real answers here, I'm only thinking-out-loud, so-to-speak (and using a lot of hyphens); I do believe that instead of pointing out what's to blame for the tainting of "pure" mentalism and how we all need to collectively do something about re-establishing it, that we rather recognize the changes in the demographic of our target audience (most likely happening in spite of us as performers) and adapt to them while doing our best to maintain the integrity of our art. As much as lies within us anyway. Other performing art forms have had to do it, and I don't think the mystery arts are really any different, IMO.
David Thiel
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I have noticed a change -- particularly in the younger people who attend shows. They DO have shorter attention spans than others. This is what makes opening strongly AND introducing a QUESTION in their minds critical. I don't think they are necessarily more difficult audiences than the rest. Once they are "in" they are ALL in and fully participating.

Ultimately mentalism is about communicating. ANY guy standing on stage and droning away is going to lose people and the millennials are the first to go. But I cut my performing teeth in comedy clubs on open mic nights...and I still perform in hospitality suites where the main attraction isn't me...but the open bar. So.........

The key EVERYWHERE is to capture their attention right away.

David
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Mindpro
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Great insight and wisdom in that post David.
CurtWaltermire
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Absolutely, David. From an audience management standpoint that is paramount.

This looks like a good time to bring back my "shooting-my-paintball-gun-into-the-audience" opener.

Smile
Philemon Vanderbeck
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"Entertainers adapt to their audiences; artists force their audiences to adapt to THEM."
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
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CurtWaltermire
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Quote:
On Jan 27, 2017, Philemon Vanderbeck wrote:
"Entertainers adapt to their audiences; artists force their audiences to adapt to THEM."


Who said this, Philemon?
Philemon Vanderbeck
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I did. But it's a paraphrase of something I've heard before.
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
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ddamen
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I've definitely had those gigs where the host is super excited, and everyone else is like, "Are we really about to see a magic show? This is weird."

But if you put out a good product, this is a blessing in disguise. People may initially set the bar really low and underestimate you.
DynaMix
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Couldn't agree more. A few of my recent gigs have had that same low bar. I often associate it with improper set up or introduction on my end. Something I want to work on for sure.
ibm_usa
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My Junior year in High School, my humanities teacher took the entire Junior class to see some musical at the theatre in Clarksville Tn. I can't remember the name of the show but I do remember having a good time. What I remember more than anything that day is the house manager coming up to my teacher and I overheard the conversation that went something like this:
"I can tell most of these kids have never seen a live show before, a lot of them had their phones out, not all of them of course but several."
The next day our teacher made an announcement regarding what the house manager said. The teacher said we weren't in any trouble but it was just an interesting observation.
A classmate of mine said the following and it really heart me more than it should have; " We have movies and TV now." My faith in humanity died that day.
"You may think that i only talk of things from the past, you know, history, well magic is history"

-Guy Jarrett

"Curiosity isn't a sin Harry, but it should be exorcised with great caution."

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http://www.jordanallen-mentalist.webs.com/
Mindpro
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I'm telling you, for those of us that perform for student or young adult audiences, we see it each and every show each and every week. People can fool themselves or make excuses or justifications, but its true. They don't know how to be an audience at a live event. The closest thing they know is sporting events, which is entirely different.

I also think to a certain degree it is the parents responsibility to be sure their kids understand etiquette, protocol and expected behaviors in such situations and environments.
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