Skepticism In The World Of Magic

November 17, 2010 by Admin  
Filed under Featured, How to Tips...

Many people are skeptical about magic, particularly stage magic. However, there are many different types of skepticism, and some are more valid as forms of criticism. For example, a lot of people can see what a magician is doing to give the appearance, or the illusion, that magic is being used, and will call attention to it. This is fine, and separates good illusionists from bad.

Then there are others who start from the position that “magic is not real”, and will deride a stage magician for practising their craft without offering any explanation as to how the performance is being carried out. This is a more cowardly form of criticism, since we can all assume that an illusionist is using some form of sleight of hand. Just saying “that’s not real” is not particularly good criticism, since you are offering no alternative explanation.

This is an important distinction. If you were in the cinema watching a movie where, for example, a main character shot a fireball from his or her fingertips, you would not be well advised to stand up and tell the other people watching that “that’s not really happening – it’s just a film!”. Of course it is, but people go along to be impressed by the show.

Picking holes in a magician’s act without having any cold hard facts is a stupid thing to do. Most of the people in the audience have pretty much gathered that the illusionist is using some kind of trick to give the appearance of magic, but they enjoy the show because the tricks are well covered and look authentic. We can all be skeptical from a position of ignorance, but it is only really valid when we come from a position of knowledge.

The Little Magical Touches

November 17, 2010 by Admin  
Filed under Everything You Should Know, Featured

To perform magical illusions to any successful degree, it is important to be in command of what the audience sees and what they believe before, during and after the trick is performed. So much of what an illusion is about pertains to what you allow the audience to believe, what you say and what you don’t. Knowing this is one of the first steps to being a skilled stage magician.

It is completely permissible to lie through your teeth as part of a stage performance. It’s no different from what actors do, after all. You can pass around one of the props for your show and tell the audience “As you can see, there are no hidden compartments!”, as long as you know they won’t be able to detect that there really is at least one. After all, it’s illusion, you are already lying to them.

However, lies of omission can be a more enjoyable way of getting the audience to believe that you have done something out of the ordinary. “You can see here, there are four coins. Now look as I take one away – and voila, there are still four coins.”. OK, that sounds fairly limp, but the point is that what the audience can see is very different from what actually is. Perhaps there were actually five coins to start with and they could only see four.

Another trick that is occasionally used as part of stage magic is the use of a “shill”. This is someone, known to the magician, who poses as part of the audience and is invited on stage to “assist” with a trick. The magician may well ask the “shill” to confirm that they have never seen each other before, which they will do.

Selling A Magic Trick

November 17, 2010 by Admin  
Filed under Everything You Should Know, Featured

Illusion may not carry the same aura of fascination that is inherent in “magic” as a concept, but if you happen to really make it work, and are really good at it, then you can still impress people with what you are capable of. As much as anything else, good illusion is about “selling” the trick – making it appear that you are seeing the same thing that the audience are seeing, and keeping an air of mystery about it.

There are various ways to sell a magic trick. If, for example, you have just made a coin “disappear”, it is to be assumed that you know where it has gone. However, if you remain deadpan in this situation, the audience will not go on the journey of confusion you want them to. Both visual and verbal sells will help with this trick. Asking “where has it gone?” as though you are unsure, and making a show of looking for it, can really help.

Various other tricks involve something along the lines of borrowing an expensive watch from a member of the audience and then making it “disappear”. A good way to sell this trick is to pretend to botch the “reappear” part of the trick and to become very apologetic, asking the owner if the watch was very expensive, and promising to pay them for a replacement. As the trick seems to be over it will be all the more impressive when you then produce the watch during the next trick.

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