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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The marquee says... » » Magic @Edinburgh Fringe!!! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

patapon
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Do you know that only the Olympics and World Cup sells more tickets than the Edinburgh Fringe?

Apart from being able to see every conceivable type of act, the Fringe is very well "stocked" with magic shows - from humble acts in an underground pub to the Grand stage at Pleasance, there is not only a show to suit every taste, but also a magic show to suit every taste!

I just finished 44 shows at this year's Fringe, of which 13 were magic shows. Here are my observations:
1. The most common phrases used were - "Pick a card", "Think of a number (between 1-10, or 1-100)", "Think of a city/object/name".

2. Almost 80% of them had a big whiteboard and/or passed a sealed envelope to a member of the audience at the start of the show, which he/she would use to reveal a prediction at the end of the show.

3. Only 4 of them were acts designed around a theme, and unsurprisingly, they were the best ones and the ones we remembered the most.
i) Secret Room at Lauriston Castle featuring 3 magicians who created illusions based on the history of the castle. Here, the star act was Billy Reid!
ii) The Chore of Enchantment featuring Vincent Gambini, a dark comedy-magic show about disillusioned magicians!
iii) 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick featuring Tim Motley, a brilliant piece of theatre (with some magic) about a jaded detective in 1930s Chicago!
iv) The Psychic Project by David Narayan, where he attempts to recreate the experiments based on the true story of America's Cold War psychic spies.

4. The rest were just "shows" without any overarching theme, and performed a variety of card, rope, coin and stage illusions. Of the rest, only one did stand out to me:
i) Dave: "Literally the Best Magician". Dave Alnwick is by far my favourite performer as his style is super casual, and gives you a completely different vibe from all the other magicians dressed in suits and vests! He has a super personality and from his "survey" at the start of his show, more than 50% of the audience show up to see him again, while 30-40% came because someone recommended him! Shows you the power of word-of-mouth!

After 13 magic shows, the fact is that we can't quite remember what each magician did unless he/she did a themed show or really stood out because of his/her style. The rest were mostly in suits and vests, were for the most part competent, but didn't really stand out, not just from a lack of theme or dressing point of view, but also for the very generic type of tricks they performed. You know, "pick a card", "think of a number", etc.

Summary
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This post aims to serve 2 purposes:
1. To let you know that the Edinburgh Fringe is truly an awesome place to watch magic shows! I paid on average GBP8-15 to watch the ticketed shows (you can get 2 for 1 deals for most shows on certain days or if you are a "Friend of the Fringe"), and 5 of the 13 shows were free shows - which means you donate what you feel its worth to the performer after the show.

2. To share with performing magicians what makes their show stand out or not. I was surprised by the number of magicians who used essentially the same type of tricks, with predictions (the big reveal at the end) being the most common. I don't think this is good or bad, but makes you wonder if what you are showing has been seen many times over by your audience (unless you are Billy Reid and show a one cup routine that blows your mind!).

Finally, to quote something that one of the performers said - "Performing magic is like playing an instrument. Every musician knows the basic technique and how to read the notes, and in the beginning, aim to master the "classics". But if you are only playing the "classics" or someone's song, then you will not stand out unless you play the song better than the original. Then many progress to "tweaking" popular songs, sort of "making it their own". This is the first step to becoming an artist, since people will remember your "twist" on the original. From there, only a few compose their own music, but it is that which makes a true artist."

Hope someone finds this useful as my experience certainly did help me to look at what tricks I perform and how I perform them!

By the way, this year's Fringe ends on Monday, so do plan on visiting next August! I will be there!
Dannydoyle
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How many songs did Elvis compose? Was he not a "true artist"? Do people remember him less because the answer is he wrote few if any? He got a co writing credit on 4 of them mostly in exchange for singing them. That is 4 out of about 750 songs.

According to this theory you put forth many of the greatest singers of all time are simply not true artists. That seems s bit short sighted.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
patapon
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I believe you are confusing material that Elvis personally composes, with songs composed for for him to release...

As an example, we all know that Elvis didn't actually write the song "Young and Beautiful", since it was written by Aaron Schroeder and Abner Silver, but performed by Elvis as the last song of the 1957 film "Jailhouse Rock". Elvis recorded it on 30 April 1957 in Radio Recorders Studio, Hollywood, and was released on the Jailhouse Rock EP in October 1957, but it is referred to as an "Elvis song". So, it is in fact "his song", making him a true artist.

Conversely, if Elvis only sang covers of other singers (eg. Sherry by Jersey Boys, Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent, etc), then I think many would not see him as a true artist.

Perhaps I did not make the subtle distinction between someone performing a song he/she personally composed, versus a song that was composed specifically for him/her to release, in which case it should have clarified that I did not draw a distinction.

So if we were to apply this to magicians, the test would simply be - Are you performing effects that you personally composed, or were created specifically for you to perform? If not, then are you then performing tricks credited to other magicians, but you perform it with your own distinct twist or style that makes you stand out? If either were the case, then the "theory" would suggest that you would then be on the road to being a true artist.

But if you were just performing tricks that everyone else is also performing in pretty much the same way, then while I don't think the point/debate is on whether or not you are a "true artist" (since every performer obviously believe they are), I think your audience will be hard pressed to remember any trick that you have done, especially if they regularly see magic shows.
Dannydoyle
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90% of audiences do not regularly see magic shows.

Elvis covered HUNDREDS of songs not written for him. The point is being remembered is NOT about the effects.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
patapon
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If you really think so, then all the best to you.
Dannydoyle
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What original effect did David Blaine so that for him remembered on his first special? It was a levitation that a whole lot of people have done. It was NOT ORIGINAL in the least.

What original effect for Doug Henning remembered? How about Harry Anderson?

I have to ask do you perform regularly? Because this idea seems very short sighted.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
thomasR
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In Copperfields current vegas show he is performing floating rose exactly the way Kevin James designed it, squeeze box (Andre kole), and a standard duck vansish and bucket.

In penn & tellers current show, they perform the harbin chair suspension, the thompson handling of the Malini egg bag, and the thompson dove act.


Glad to hear your report from the fringe, jealous you got to go!
patapon
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Glad you enjoyed reading the report. Yes, it is a wonderful place to see many wonderful performances - magic or otherwise!

I hope you all didn't miss the part where I said, "then you will not stand out unless you play the song better than the original." - as this is precisely the reason why people "notice" and "remember" the David Blaine, Doug Henning, David Copperfield and P&T's of the world... and not because they had original tricks.

So I shall post no more about this quote (which if you care to read, is a quote from one of the performers at the Fringe, and not mine) since there will be those hell bent on disagreeing with everything I state anyway. So for the last time, it made me think about the tricks I choose to perform, and I hope it make you think about it too.

Hope you all will find the opportunity to visit the Fringe next year!
Dannydoyle
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Why be so defensive? Who said the quote is not important. I simply thought that it was a bit short sighted, and in the light of how the music industry specifically works fairly misinformed.

As I said Elvis wrote few if any songs, and covered HUNDREDS. Didn't make him less of a "true artist". You seem to think you are being attacked, and quite the contrary is true. I am not attacking and I do not believe Thomas is either. Having a discussion with different points of view is what this is supposed to be about. I get that it wasn't your quote but you defend the heck out of it and the way you posted it here it "seems" as if you agree with the position.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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