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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Character vs. Being Yourself? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of TheNightBringer89
Ok, I have never performed a proffesional gig before so I probably don't know what I'm talking about, but most magi or mentalists I have spoken with have told me to be yourself on stage because the audience will connect with you better. But I was thinking, when someone goes to a show do they really want to see an average everyday guy? or do they want to see someone like Blaine, Criss Angel, or Max Maven? Personally I wouldn't want to see an average guy, I would want to see someone strange, creepy, someone who would give me a chill down my spine. What are all your opinions about this? Ofcourse it can be taken to far, like if your character is nothing like your own personality, or you have no acting skills whatsoever.
"Dreams are born of imagination, fed upon illusions, and put to death by reality."

It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong,
If you're not like the others then you don't belong.
Clifford the Red
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Profile of Clifford the Red
Be yourself, turned up to 11.

Max is not an act Smile Nor do I believe David Blaine is really an animated person and has been fooling us all the time. Neither do I think Criss Angel wears a wig and normally dresses in plaid pants and a pink polo. Your character is best if it really comes from YOU. Who are YOU? (ah, one of the most intriguing questions you can ask!)

Do you really see yourself as an average, everyday guy?

Time to up YOUR ante!
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
Todd Robbins
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Profile of Todd Robbins
This is a tough one.

It is VERY hard to pull off an extreme character. You really have to fill it by knowing everything about the character and by finding yourself in that character's world. I have seen a lot of performers latch on to a look and then have nothing behind it. It is embarrassing to watch someone do this for there is nothing believable about them. It doesn't matter how great your magic is, if the audience doesn't accept who you are trying to be then you are dead in the water. It can be just a bunch of posing and posturing, and it's hokey as hell.

The secret is not "losing yourself in the role", it is finding yourself in the role. You have to make the character as 3 dimensional as you are. When an actor is going to play Hamlet, they start the process by dealing with the specifics of the role. And they imagine what it would be like to live these specifics. What would it be like to have your Father die unexpectedly? What would it be like if instead you now being the man of the house, your Uncle steps in and take over the running of your life and the life of your family? What if your Uncle married your Mother very soon after the death of your father? What if you saw the ghost of your father and that ghost tells you he was murdered by your Uncle? Add to all this living in a country that is on the brink of war. If you can truly imagine what it would be like to live like this, then you could play Hamlet.

Is the same when approaching the creation of a character for a magic act. Instead of using deception to create an illusion, what would it be like to live with real magical powers? How would that change your outlook on the world? These are two of a gazillion questions that must be asked and answered if you want to play a character.

In many ways, playing a magician is harder than playing Hamlet. With a role in a play, it's all set out for you,you only need to interact with the other characters onstage and the audience is a passive element.

Magic is different in that it is a form of performance. You present directly to the audience and often they interact with you. There is nothing complete set about it and the outcome can vary greatly from show to show. This is why you must be very comfortable in the skin of your character.

So look upon it this way: there really is no such thing as a character, it's only a reconfigured version of you.
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Profile of Dr_Stephen_Midnight
Right you are.
A character should use who you really are as the foundation.
In my case, I was always a kindhearted variant on Gomez Addams, so I was striving to be a bizarrist before I knew the form existed. The performers I felt the most 'kinship' with were Orson Welles, Tony Andruzzi and Eugene Burger.

Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
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Profile of enriqueenriquez
This is just my opinion. You need to jump into the water and start performing, for friends, family, people in the streets... don’t wait until you have your character figured out, because a performing character is half what you would like it to be, half the evolution of that notion trough contact with people.

Maybe you have an idea for a character, but by performing under that disguise you realize is not you, or maybe while performing you find by accident a catch phrase, a gesture, a way of say things, that clicks both inside yourself and with your audience.

There is no sure bet.

Today we live in the age of marketing, but the only thing that “marketing” can sell, for sure, is marketing itself. In that sense, marketing experts are extremely successful. They have sold the idea of being indispensable. Besides that, they can do exactly what people who study earthquakes: they can describe what happened, they can enunciate a theory about why it happened, but they can’t predict if is really going to happen, nor make it happen again. Marketing gurus are the corporation’s psychic consultants.

You put a bunch of “experts” in a room, trying to define the more likable character for a mentalist, and the will fail. The only way to know is by performing.

It may sound horrible, but failure is a great teacher. As an indian woman said:

“There are two dogs who stand guard in your stomach. Their names in English are Jealousy and Fear. One guardian dog is jealously fearful, the other fearfully jealous. They are medicine to protect you.”

You seem to be a young guy. What we all enunciate with the words “Be yourself” is a work in progress. Specially if you are young. It’s not something you decide today and that’s it. Your personality grows and evolve, on and off stage. Just start testing and relax, you will have fun while doing it.
Todd Robbins
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Enriqueenriquez is right. You can plan all you want and it will mean nothing until you bloody your creation in front of the public. Perform, record the experience, learn from it, adapt and improve, and do it again. The public will tell you what you need to know. Nothing is premiered in a polished form.
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Profile of Osiris
Who here hasn't played Dungeons & Dragons (or any other FRPG system)?

We all come to the board with an IDEA of what we want our character to be but, by the throw of the dice he/she/it evolves into an entirely different thing altogether! That's not just how it works in the game THAT'S LIFE!

As has been noted, playing a "heavy" character isn't only a tall order, few (very, very few) can do it with any sense of consistency. The problem with this type of image is that we know, deep down in our own hearts, that it's silly and not "real" e.g. not believable. To be truely sinister and "evil" is nearly as elusive a dream as being pure and perfect in every way... simply put, we're all hypocrites!

I remember when this Jewish kid from the east coast came to the L.A. area... his name was Phil... an awesome card worker and very educated individual that, like many who come to "Hollywood" had a dream of becoming a star. Like you, he too was concerned about his image... his "character" as a solo performer. To address this he added to his already established line of academic training, managed to get gigs and club memberships that allowed him to rub shoulders with the "right" people and slowly, over a number of years, he's massaged his own personality around enough to exact a "complete" transmutation -- Phil had become MAX. Not just any Max mind you, but the Maven himself!

Ironically, as the years have passed Max has gone through other metamorphosis (as do we all). You see, you'll never stick with the same character. We must evolve and "come into our own" as time & circumnstance demand (e.g. the roll of the dice). In so doing we literally become that which was once envisioned but, we become more than that original facade, we become a completed human-being (if we're lucky)and, in this instance, a genuinely magickle entity.

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it don't happen over night. Nor will it happen via a single field of personal study and focus. My life as a performer and human being has been molded by every single person I've worked with over the years... every one from Roy Houston, Ward Hall and John Meah to (from the Circus & Carnival Worlds) to both, the Las Vegas headliners and illusion designers I've known and had long nights of brainstorming with, to they guys at the local Starbucks that I gather with every morning just to shoot the breeze and complain about the current political airs.

Have a vision but allow for flexibility...

Be true to yourself and who you are, for this is the best foundation to any character you may present yourself to be...

Get some discipline (such a nasty idea in today's world, but it does work) by taking classes and workshops and getting your hands dirty doing the hardstuff...

Find at least a half-dozen people from various walks of life, to model yourself from. Find their quirks and learn to understand their game. Not just those "successful" in carnal terms, but the average man and woman on the street... even the street bum can have a heck of a lot to teach you, if you but open your ears, set aside your prejudice, and listen!

Best of luck! Creating a character and learning how to define who and what you are in the world is possibly the greatest adventure life has to offer.
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On 2005-02-09 10:26, Osiris wrote:
Best of luck! Creating a character and learning how to define who and what you are in the world is possibly the greatest adventure life has to offer.

Eight Spades
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As you're starting out, be yourself (or a slight variation of). You'll get a better feel for performing. As you progress you'll find the character that fits you. The most successful magicians seemed to develop a character that was only a slight embellishment of themselves. Anything too extreme is seen right through by the audience.
"Tricks are only the crude residue from which the lifeblood of magic has been drained." -S.H. Sharpe
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Profile of enriqueenriquez
TheNightBringer89, do yourself a favor and get this:

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Profile of Thoughtreader
An audience smells sincerity and that IS what makes or breaks a performer. Whether that IS the actual you or whether it is a believable character you are portraying, it is the sincerity that you are REAL, what you are doing is from the heart and if you are being authentic. An audience can always tell if someone is doing something by rote or whether it is coming from themselves. It took me many years to learn this and it was not until I did REAL stand-up comedy (not tricks but actually writing jokes and telling them) to learn that. Anyone can do what we call "dick jokes", which is going for the lude, shock joke OR they can do standard, tired old jokes BUT when one does comedy from their own experiences, when they write from the heart so that it really has meaning to them, that is when you will see a good comedian that everyone likes. It is that "sincerity' that comes through from their material that works.

So, if you can truly be yourself, which means dropping all those barriers that go up whenever anyone gets in front of people (we all do it and it is very hard to learn to drop them), when you truly are at your most vulnerable in front of an audience, THAT is when you will be the most effective. If you can do this as a character (Think of some of the great actors. Do you see them or the character up there. That is how you tell) then you have it down pat.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
Canada's Leading Mentalist
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Profile of Magickman
Andruzzi said "Be who you are but not what you are."

(And we thought a picture was worth a 1000 words!)

What man knows he calls Science
What he has yet to learn he calls Magick
Both are real!

_Tony Andruzzi_
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Profile of rickmagic1
I would agree with everything previously said, and simply add this. It is only in performing that you will eventually find yourself. When I started out, I was doing restaurants being the "comedy magician". I had no desire at that time to do stand up/parlor style magic. In time, I'd seen some great performances by Ricky Jay, Eugene Burger, Max Howard, and many, many others. This is not to mention the fact that I have had, since I was a kid, a great love of history. I won't bore you with all the details, but that was how my period act, "Professor Richard Barclay: The Wizard of Edinburgh", came about.
Now, on the other hand, I also wanted to "be myself" performing some of the same magic from that show. That led to the show that I've been performing since 2003, "Victorian Secrets: An Evening Of Classical Conjuring".

BTW, both of these are parlor-style shows.

Both of these shows were no where near where I started, but both came about just because of who I am. It just took me a while (and tons of shows) to figure it out.

Hope that helps.

Richard Green
The Modern Conjurer
Host of the Haunted Magic show at House of Cards Nashville!
Lee Darrow
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Profile of Lee Darrow
Another thing in doing an extreme character (as well as in being a good Game Master in a role-playing game) is the combination of two elements - Power and Terror. Without power, there can be no terror for something that has no power cannot hurt us. And terror is often the emotion that an extreme character is going for, as well as many bizarrists - a true opening of the veil between the worlds where ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties and things that go Bump in the night dwell.

The unknown is often scary. The unknown that has been portrayed as a place where danger dwells, or madness or even Death itself, can be very difficult to portray well. And the key to this, as others far better at it than I have said, is congruity.

You, not just your character, must BELIEVE that what you are doing is real and dangerous. The classic actor's "as if" principle is critical to anyone going for these elements - or even for a believable character. And that takes training. As an actor.

Check An Actor Prepares by Stanislavski for openers. There is a world of good information for ANY performer in there.

Best of luck. Being a Mage, sorcerer, thaumaturgist or follower of Cthulu and being believable is a difficult thing to do.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
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