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Topic: How far will theatrical license go.
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Sep 16, 2015 04:31AM)
As this forum is open to public view I think sometimes we forget this. My question here is,,,,,yes we all elaborate and include bs from time to time but how far should this go.

I used to make my income from being a plumber !! On another thread here there was reference to the use of a water professor !!! Now this is a new one on me, so anyone here shed light.

Result is if I doubt such statements, unless the general public is as thick as s##t they will too. This is detrimental to the image one is trying to perceive. On the same thread, many lies in the guise of truth have been used. So if I can find this out easily so can the public.

So how much of a liar is it acceptable to be in the name of entertainment.
Message: Posted by: Cliffg37 (Sep 16, 2015 08:15AM)
My guess is that a water professor is a college teacher, or graduate level degree holder in the science of water. Here we call it a Geosciences degree. Personally I have a certificate and credential to teach water science, so my guess is that it is someone who is knowlegable about how water will travel and affect the outcome of a situation. Example: Joe Burrus did not have a water professor handy at his ill-fated stunt. If he'd had one, he would have been told about how the recent rain should have postponed his stunt as wet soil is substantially heavier than dry.

I will not comment on how much lying should be done. I have no clue what anyone else should do. I try to lie blatenly on stage only when I feel it necessary, which is really not too often.

"We are all going to hell for lying... The box is empty..." - Aldo Colombini
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Sep 16, 2015 09:16AM)
Thankyou for that. Sounds like such a person could command a good fee for their services, so not to be employed on a whim ! Interesting ! :evilgrin:
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Sep 16, 2015 09:16AM)
When you do what you say, there's no point in lying.

One of the business problems I've run into, over the years, is that I don't lie, and many of my competitors do. I choose not to drink from a poisoned well.
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Sep 16, 2015 09:25AM)
With you on that Harley, it gives you the upper hand knowing that you can carry through. That way you supply what you offer without compromise.
Message: Posted by: Roslyn (Sep 17, 2015 02:52AM)
Theatrical license and blatant lies are two very different things.

Putting an upper limit on theatrical license stems creativity and ultimately damages art.

The employment of experts does not fall in to either of these two categories though; unless the use of an expert is claimed when they have not been used or if one has been used and that use is then denied. How anyone could benefit from either of these things is beyond me. Since Ken made reference to buried alive I can tell you that experts were consulted. The reason for these experts was due to a concern regarding the water table and the heavy rain in the area during the week leading up to the event. Neither of these things ended up being an issue on the day. But it's always worth checking. The last thing the event needed was for the hole to be below the water table or for the run-off coming down from the surrounding hills to fill the hole with water.

As for their fee, usually yes they would cost some serious coin. However, on this occasion they (alongside everyone else who took part in the event) graciously donated their time and knowledge for free to what was a charitable event raising money and awareness for Bloodwise.

But this has nothing to do with the original question of "How far will theatrical license go?". And the answer to that, in my opinion, is it'll go as far as each individual performer/artist/director wants to take it. Some will take it further than others. Those pushing boundaries will be chastised by those who think they are going too far and the same is true the other way around. The point to remember is that art is a subjective beast that is personal to the artist who created it. Sometimes others can appreciate that art too, other times they cannot. But that doesn't make it any more or less valid. It just makes some pieces and some artists more popular than others.

Also, one must remember that in any theatrical performance things are never quite what they seem. The door may look like a door and feel like a door but it could turn out to be merely a painting, a clever ruse used by the artist to suggest the existence of a door when in reality the door never was nor will it ever be.

*Before anyone jumps all over this: With the exception of the paragraph regarding experts used during buried alive this post has nothing to do with that event or with Escape for Life. It is my answer to the original question based on my current opinion. In future that opinion may change, or it may not change, I don't know. But right now this is what I think.
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Sep 17, 2015 03:19AM)
Hahaha no comment !!
Message: Posted by: Roslyn (Sep 17, 2015 03:34AM)
[quote]On Sep 17, 2015, Kondini wrote:
Hahaha no comment !! [/quote]

Shame. I was hoping this thread was going to become an interesting and useful discussion on performance art. It's a great topic that should be discussed. A breath of fresh air among the standard "which lock is best" and "what DVDs are great for beginners" posts that this board is full of.
Message: Posted by: Steve_Mollett (Sep 17, 2015 09:29AM)
It DOES raise some discussion fodder in light of Houdini's many "publicity legends," and of his statement, "It's not what you actually do that counts, but what the audience (public) thinks you do.
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Sep 17, 2015 11:20AM)
Houdini's a great example.

Long ago, I talked with folks who remembered his performance. Their opinions were far lower than that of his PR. I realize that they'd seen his show at the end of his career, when he'd burned himself out physically, and had ambitions that were beyond the level of his ability at the time. When he was doing 20-minute vaudeville slots, I'm sure he was great.

And I'd say that the thing that killed him was his PR. He had such a great knack for putting a story out, and when it came back to him, he could manipulate the reporter. Being hit in the belly was but one example of this. But it certainly bit him.
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Sep 17, 2015 11:21AM)
And if he were alive and performing now, his PR antics would be caught immediately. He'd be shamed.
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Sep 17, 2015 12:44PM)
Spot on Harley that's exactly what's happened over here with the non buried rubbish. He got caught and challenged and failed.
Message: Posted by: Steve_Mollett (Sep 17, 2015 01:10PM)
Yep-news travels faster now, and is analyzed more easily.
Message: Posted by: Roslyn (Sep 17, 2015 06:32PM)
[quote]On Sep 17, 2015, Kondini wrote:
Spot on Harley that's exactly what's happened over here with the non buried rubbish. He got caught and challenged and failed. [/quote]

Its not exactly what's happened over here with buried alive though is it? Antony has never claimed he did something that he didn't. The papers haven't reported something that never was, or even something that's been embellished. What's been reported is that Antony tried the buried alive escape under the same conditions as Houdini and Alan Alan did. Unfortunately his attempt also had the same result that Houdini and Alan Alan had, ie he didn't get out.

Nobody has been caught because there's nothing to catch. The story is a very simple one. Man got in hole, man didn't get himself out of hole so man had to be rescued. And he was. The guys who pulled him out were rehearsed in what they had to do should something go wrong and they executed that plan perfectly. The press then picked up the story and have been running with it ever since.

But again, this has nothing to do with artistic or theatrical license and everything to do with having a back-up plan and a back-up for the back-up. Any EA without such things in place would truly be foolish and a contender for the Darwin Awards. Theatrical license would be, as an example, having a piece of equipment that was made with the escapist in mind that contained the method of escape within its construction and then publicly claiming it was an ungaffed genuine restraint with a genuine purpose on loan to the escapist for one season only. That's more than a tiny manipulation of the truth, that's theatrical license taken to the extreme. Some will agree with it, others will see it as blatant lies that exists only to deceive the audience and shouldn't be on stage.

I'm ok with it, as long as it's done within a theatrical context. And like all good theatre the audience should leave having experienced a range of emotions but they shouldn't leave still believing the lies. Otherwise this puts the performer in the same boat as mediums, psychics and the like who would have you believe their mentalism tricks are achieved by using special powers or an unnatural ability when it comes to the use of psychology or suggestion. It's all BS. It's all a smoke screen.
Message: Posted by: magicbymccauley (Sep 22, 2015 02:33PM)
It's interesting and stunning to me why people would do an escape the way that houdini and alan alan did it. Seems to me to be way too difficult. It depends on your budget of course but I would have an ENTIRELY different method of doing it, even resorting to illusion and magic tricks to do it rather than doing it as a physical challenge. As a physical challenge it seems way too dangerous to me. A door covered in earth you have to push open? No thanks!

There are many ways to effect this escape that don't involve the physical pushing away of dirt while actually buried. Without going into specific methods I'd much prefer some of the ways others have done it as an illusion.
Message: Posted by: magicbymccauley (Sep 22, 2015 02:38PM)
It's also stunning to me that people would do something for the public they haven't fully done in private. I would build a coffin and do 1/2 an inch of dirt on top. Escape. Repeat with an inch. Stop when it gets to be too much. Find alternate strategies with more dirt. Make it look like you're using more dirt than you actually are, use artifice to aid you, etc. etc. etc.
Message: Posted by: dave_matkin (Sep 23, 2015 04:59AM)
You are surely not suggesting do something to practise and sucsessfully escape? What get out almost alive? Surely not!
Message: Posted by: magicbymccauley (Sep 23, 2015 04:49PM)
I know some magicians who seriously get a trick read the instructions and do the trick that night for an audience with no previous practice. Okay, that may be okay for a twisting the aces effect but I wouldn't reccomend it for twisting out of 1 ton of dirt, lol.
Message: Posted by: magicbymccauley (Sep 23, 2015 04:50PM)

Note teller's one word admonition at the end.
Message: Posted by: Rook (Sep 23, 2015 10:50PM)
[quote]On Sep 23, 2015, magicbymccauley wrote:

Note teller's one word admonition at the end. [/quote]

This is indeed amusing. Something tells me, however, that Tosh edited in the comment (appropriate though it may be).
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Sep 24, 2015 12:01AM)
So Mccauley
You used to throw a blanket over you and perform an escape. I'm sure, in retrospect this wasn't a crowd pleaser.

Now you're "of the mind" that developing an escape step by step may be a better alternative. You propose to chart your improvements and to " inspect what you expect".
If you really have made the jump from "know it all" to "life long learner" then I applaud you.
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Sep 28, 2015 03:29AM)
So I think this has run its course with varied response. Some think anything can go with lies and BS as fodder, others take a more realistic view with sensible limits in place.

What many miss is that the public are not as gullible as maybe they used to be. Regards the farce over here, the press summed it up with many derogatory and sometimes funny comments. Sadly with spin off that all eas are idiots or stupid. I think Schofield summed it up on the morning show with the comment "Do you really think this is the job for you ?" A wonderful way to say your in the wrong biz.

Another spin off from OTT BS without ability or solid history is that Health and Safety has now got the bit between its teeth and look upon such entertainment as full of pitfalls. I know of sixteen enquiries and five cancellations or postponements caused by H & S also our local branch of Equity has had numerous calls regards this. Sad that one prick can ruin a whole bunch of roses in such a short time.

From a personal point of view, I have removed our fire cage from offer and not pushing the escapes at all. Just hope that this blows over with time and no other idiots will be trying to make their name on failure as they are incapable of doing the job the right way. Info which has come my way since that farce, enforces that which many of us expected. The whole thing was a put up job which back fired, many of those dragged into it are now so embarrassed as to not make further comment and Riley has exposed the true standard of the "Hero" hahaha.

I opened this thread and consider that those who have posted have shown their real metal. So judge for yourself.

I will not post further on this.

Message: Posted by: magicbymccauley (Sep 29, 2015 08:41PM)
Interestingly Jay, the problem wasn't the blanket, but the box. People weren't really that interested in the box. It combined an illusion with an escape. If that weren't complicated enough, I added getting into the box, locking it, and covering it with a cloth. About a million layers to that, not at all "snappy" and loads of dead time.

The stocks escape (which I also did under a cloth) has fared better, it's more comedic and takes much less time. Still, there was a danger element lacking.

But the escapes that have worked best for me are the mail bag escape, handcuff escapes and the 100 foot rope escape that harley helped show me the finer points of. My favorite is the hundred foot rope escape. Harley has a wrinkle where you have a noose that provides a more dangerous look, and I get the biggest, strongest guy to tie me up. He pulls on the rope as hard as he can, and it genuinely hurts (but in a safe way) that the audience can see. It's entertaining from beginning to end, unlike some of the other escapes I've tried. Generally I do the Mail Bag escape for kids shows and the 100 ft rope escape and comedy handcuff escape for the adult shows.

I've never been much for straighjacket escapes. Everyone and their brother (escape artist or not) has an straight jacket over on the east coast. It's extremely overplayed. For some reason I don't think a hairy overweight man such as myself wriggling out of a straight jacket would leave a view to the audience they would enjoy. For these reason's I've eschewed the SJ escape.

I'm sorry if you or others see me as a know it all. I certainly don't know it all or even half of it. But when I see some people telling others who is and isn't a "real escape artist" it annoys me. I've done my stuff, I have chops, I've built illusions and escapes, I've done those gigs where you've got the worst performing conditions imaginable and you still leave with the client happy. If people demmand some proof of your worth, I don't think they are worth satisfying.

You have never done this and have remained above the fray and on the moral high ground, and for that, you have my admiration
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Sep 30, 2015 04:01AM)
I have made a few wacky mistakes, over the years, so when I see someone else doing same, I temper my remarks.
The exception is when a safety issue is never rehearsed or never enters the picture. There is no excuse not to overload a device, in rehearsals, to see if it will hold the A. Weight B. Pressure C. Size D time allotted E in my realm if endurance. And feasible. There was a time I spent days on end, under water to practice escapes from rope, cuffs and devices. I always had 2 friends with me.

Two things I've learned 1. Getting out of something in calm shallow, warm water is completely different then being 20 feet under cold murky water.
2. A real friend asks how they can help. Someone you need to get rid of immediately is someone who jokingly says "if this doesn't work who gets your stuff 0r can I take- out some insurance in your name.

You have to run from those people even if they're related or close friends.

Other then that, when I shoot a DVD, the info on that has been audience tested at least 70 times and sometimes a few hundred.
Ok I'll get off the soap box except to go full circle and answer the theatrical license question.
I think, to some degree, it's cultural.i have an original escape from a box similar to table of death (but different) the way it was originally set up was to have a curtain surrounding it. The audience booed as soon as the curtain was raised.
So I talked to Randi and he said that American audiences need to see everything (in most cases) but if I were to do that escape in the Asia, that it would be acceptable to cover the box under the excuse that the secret needs to be kept a secret.
In essence, many people WANT to believe that you are really trapped while other cultures view your efforts as a specialized stunt or act.


I once did my milk can at a carnival of 5 shows over two days.
I had cardiologists and other medical professionals practically taking the ax from the hands of the assistants and ready to break the locks, while one huge guy waited till the amphitheater cleared out and shook my hands explaining what he did for a living (famous professional wrestler, well known) and he just had to have a laugh with me because of how he appreciated the theatre, I created.

So, theatrical license depends on culture, location and past experiences of the viewer, but throwing a blanket over yourself isn't usually conducive (is anyone even reading this) and the blanket just puts a barrier between everyone....( even if it's a comedy bit) Not to mention that the audience can't see your face - which can really, really convey the struggle of Man Against Machine.
Part of escaping is to bring the viewers into the struggle in a way they live vicariously through you. (I'm writing an essay here,
will save this for a lecture.)
Message: Posted by: Rook (Sep 30, 2015 03:02PM)
[quote]I've never been much for straighjacket escapes. Everyone and their brother (escape artist or not) has an straight jacket over on the east coast. It's extremely overplayed. For some reason I don't think a hairy overweight man such as myself wriggling out of a straight jacket would leave a view to the audience they would enjoy. For these reason's I've eschewed the SJ escape. [/quote]

Interesting. The SJ is probably the most popular escape in my repertoire (in the SW). I generally make it a very interactive experience with quite a bit of byplay with the audience while delivering a mini-rant on the value of adaptability, perseverance, and willingness. Might be a geographical thing.

[quote]Ok I'll get off the soap box[/quote]

And here I was rather enjoying it!

[quote]American audiences need to see everything (in most cases)[/quote]

Indeed. I find that my 'cabinet escapes' are much less well received than my full view stuff. However, I think it might depend on presentation. The one covered escape I do is actually more of a comedy routine than an escape [i]per se[/] (a variation of Anthony Linden's Suit Jacket Escape). However, the verbal byplay from behind the curtain keeps the audience engaged as they wonder what you'll come out with next.

Another exception to the covered escape is the Threefold Death, in which I escape a Tom Horne belt inside a mailbag inside a body bag. It's pretty simple, really and it's concealed in that no one sees me escape the Tom Horne or Mailbag.
Message: Posted by: magicbymccauley (Oct 1, 2015 08:16PM)
I would agree and go even farther, Jay.

Different AREAS in the U.S. respond differently not just to escapes but to other magic as well. DC audiences tend to be full of introverts who dislike "know it all" types. They're sick of hearing from politicians and egotistical bosses, so if you come off as a "cool guy" type they are going to hate you right off the bat. That may be different than in LA which is basically "cool guy" central.

DC audiences LOVE to see you fail and then pull a win out of a situation. They also don't react very much, unlike other audiences from different parts of the country (this is even true at things like music concerts).

DC can be downright anti-social and it can be difficult to perform at all in certian situations. Everyone is overwraught, over worked and super stressed. Even walking up to someone and saying "Mind if I show you a magic trick" can make people feel put upon.

One formula I've found that works is do magic for kid--->kid enjoys magic--->adult enjoys watching kid enjoy magic---->adult starts to enjoy magic.

In terms of escapes that's obviously much more difficult to do. Comedy thumb tie---comedy handcuff escape---serious rope escape, for instance.

The reaction I get somewhere like pittsburgh, chicago or in west virginia is far different. In DC you must prove that you are worthy of their time. Somewhere like Pittsburgh you are providing entertainment in a much more docile environment and a community with a slower pace.

In more remote areas, like in small towns like west Virginia, you're basically providing people with a once in a lifetime experience,(many may have never seen magic or an escape before) and so the rules change there as well.

In DC they'll forget they saw a magician tomorrow as their 50 hour work week starts. In a rural remote area, they may talk about it for weeks or even months. Very different standards, very different audiences, and consequently very different material is required.
Message: Posted by: MateosSpain (Aug 13, 2019 06:47PM)
Theatrical license is like when we see a movie and we know that it was all some metaphor in the end but in the middle of it we are totally hypnotized but when the stage is the real life and the "movie" never ends its just b**l s**t xD