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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » All tied up! » » Straitjacket presentation points (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

ROBERT BLAKE
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I am working on a straitjacket escape and I want to know what are the presentational points to make a straitjacket escape interesting and appealing.
The Donster
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This is a tough subject to discuss. you might want to try the History of it. or just make up a story of it.
KerryJK
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Big subject indeed.. when I asked these sort of questions before I got precious few replies and had to figure it out myself, now I know it's because there are so many subtleties in presenting a SJ that depend on the performer's style and character it's impossible to give a concise, fit-all answer.

One thing I will say though is that the selling and pacing of the escape is all important. It is for any escape of course, but for SJ you are doing something visual, physical with three distinct stages from a technical point of view (arms, straps, removal). Pacing those stages and building a story around them is the art of the routine; just flinging it off quickly lacks the drama of escaping right on the lip of a defined time limit or within the time constraints of a routine (in my case, I sing a song whilst escaping with the intention of finally flinging off the jacket in time with the final note.. give or take a little milking, of course).

With this respect, being able to struggle convincingly even if the jacket is practically falling off from the outset is vital. The most persistent problem I find in performance isn't obnoxious audience volunteers binding me too tight (that's who I've trained to prepare for all these years after all) but sympathetic volunteers who think they're helping me by strapping me in loosely. Though it's lovely that they want to help, the acting job becomes much harder when the SJ offers about as much resistance to your struggles as a paper sweater. I like to think of this as the escape equivalent of what pro-wrestlers refer to as the "broomstick test" (trying to have an entertaining, competitive looking match with a hopeless opponent who gives nothing back). It's tricky, but it can be practiced.
The Amazing Michael
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Helen has prety much summed it up, but please allow me to add something to this if I may. I would suggest that you watch as many straitjacket escapes as you can; comedy, serious, whatever you can find (see what others have done first....otherwise you will be condemed to reinvent the wheel and the sail). Next, try to decide what style of presentation works best for you and begin to develope your act. I have tried to do a straight-up serious straitjacket escape, but it doesn't work for my style. I have found a way to incorperate comedy into the start of the act and then after the escape has begun, I turn the act more serious. The most important thing to remember when it comes to the theatrical aspect of this escape is: DON'T MAKE THE ESCAPE LOOK EASY!!! Make sure it looks like you have just barely made it out of the jacket every time you do the escape!!! If you are using a jacket that you have to get your arms over your head in order to escape, remember that as soon as your arms are free from encircling your body, the audience sees you as being free, so do not quickly work your arms over your head. Play this very important part of the escape out and use it to sell the performance to your audience. Also remember that your first couple of performances might not work as well as you might have hoped; just give it some time and you will find the right presentation that works for you and your audience. Good luck. All the best, Mike.
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ROBERT BLAKE
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Thank you very much.
Starry
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Hi Robert, I did the strait jacket for several years, both standing up and hanging upside-down from the burning rope. When I wrote my novel, THE MAGIC LIFE, I used the entire routine in the second chapter of my book. If you'd like to read the chapter, it's online at http://www.starry.com/magic/novel/ under the picture of the book cover, you'll see the link to the chapters.

Best,

Ace
Ace Starry - Author or THE MAGIC LIFE - A NOVEL PHILOSOPHY
http://www.starry.com/
ROBERT BLAKE
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Thank you Starry that's a great story. I learned a lot.
drwilson
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Robert,

Here are the questions that I always ask myself:

1. Who am I? I have a fairly well-developed character now, I understand a lot about him.

2. Why is my character doing this effect? You might have some kind of message that you are trying to convey, you might be a "victim" in the language of Big Daddy Cool and you have to escape, you might be adding texture to a show with some very different kinds of effects.

3. When you have these points worked out, you work out the script and the presentation points.

What makes a strait jacket escape interesting and appealing is YOU. If you are interesting and appealing, your strait jacket escape will be. There are many finer points, but if the core is not there, it won't work.

I would love to see Helen Held escape from a strait jacket. It wouldn't look like anyone else in the world.

Yours,

Paul
KerryJK
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Northampton UK
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Thanks, Paul Smile

Actually, the footage I have of my "Ballad Of Mary Jones" SJ escape is a rather frustrating affair. On the occasion I was filming the routine went brilliantly, the volunteer I picked out was fantastic, both in terms of getting into the act and also doing a decent job of strapping me in. Unfortunately, the camera decided to slip out of focus halfway through so the actual escape was visible only as a huge blur. For what it's worth, I have it uploaded (though not linked from my site) to http://homepage.ntlworld.com/qskerry/helenheld/maryjones.wmv . Hopefully I'll get a chance to film it again soon.
Houdini man
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I may be new, but my words of advice ( adding to everyone else's great work ) Is..

Be confident

Sell the Escape, ( don't make it look easy )



P
www.magicformagicians.info www.perry-reid.com

The only thing that spererates genius from insanity is success.
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