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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Developing Character (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Seth
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What do you guys think? Should a character be organically evolved from countless performances or should it be consciously developed?
aussiemagic
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Good question. Lately, this is something I am thinking about quite a lot. To be honest, I always thought that magicians who play characters i.e. cowboy, wizard, etc were kind of childish and would not play well to adult audiences. But this is not necessarily the case, Whit Haydn and John Carney have great character acts that play well to adult audiences.

If anything, I think it is a great way to distinguish yourself from other performers.

It would be great to get some input on this from some veteran performers.

Simon
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JackScratch
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Actually, it is both. Your character should never be etched in stone, it should be fluid, organic, changing, but before you step in front of an audience, you must have a solid outline, including common phrases, style, and mannerisms. Trust me, I've done a whole lot of character work in the past 15 years, and by that, I mean different characters.
Michael Baker
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Much the same as life... we are (typically) consciously developed, but it takes years of experience for us to evolve and mature.

~michael
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kregg
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Develop EVERY aspect of your show, from the moment you hit the boards to the time you take a bow. Leave nothing to chance, because, you only have one chance to make a first impression.

Kregg
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Al Angello
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Your stage character should come from within. A phony persona stands out on stage for exactly what it is. I am an over the top, exagerated caricature of myself on stage that I feel comfortable with. I have learned to do this by doing many living room birthday parties. Some will disagree with me but buying a book written by a famous magician that teaches you how to be just like him will never bring out the best in you.
Al Angello
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Jim Davis
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Rather than spell it all out again.. take a read here...

http://www.online-visions.com/other/0509diamondjim.html
Diamond Jim Davis "The Cardslinger" ~~~ Magic from the '80's....................the 1880's!
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<BR><BR>Don't just be a magician, be a human interest!
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<BR><BR>[url]www.periodplayers.com[/ur
Regan
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I believe stage character development needs to be carefully thought out and many considerations should go into the decisions pertaining to it. However, no matter how much thought or pre-planning you put into it, your character will inevitably evolve as you perform and gain valuable experience.

As Al said, I also believe it is important to find a character that 'fits' you, no matter how you do it. It may take a long time to find the right combination.

Regan
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Al Angello
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Boy Jim
You said everything I was thinkin' (I think).
Thanks
Al
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JackScratch
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This is a cross-post from another forum, hope you all find it useful.

In a previous thread the value of technical execution has been weighed against the value of an entertaining presence. In that thread it has been suggested that it is not possible to verbally educate on the subject of presence. This will be the first of many parts of an attempt to do just that. I hope this helps and please feel free to contribute constructively to it.

The persona one might describe as "A Magician" is a perfectly valid one. Many times an individual performs with no more explanation of his actions than "I am a magician", even if those words are never spoken verbatum. While this persona is completely valid, and accepted, it is also often times a crutch. It is the aspect of an individual's performance that allows him or her to neglect the justification of his or her actions. My suggestion, if only as an object lesson, is take on a persona, or an occupational description, that has nothing to do with magic. Then validate every effect performed to your audience using this persona or occupation.

An example of this is my Rennaisance Festival Stage show. In it I portray an Arabic itinerant salesman. The show is called Objects of Wonder and in it I am displaying to the audience my mystic wares. Each of the effects I perform in this show must somehow be presented as an item of magic. Originally everything was accomplished with "magic dust". Words can not describe how completely lame this was. However, over time, using resources providing me with a variety of magical effects from which to choose, as well as creatively combining good effects with clever descriptions of these objects, I compiled a show presenting a variety of unique and intersting items. Never once presenting myself as "A Magician".

Please keep in mind that this is a process involving two equally important steps: conception and perfection. To neglect either of these steps, is to fail. Conception involves first establishing a creative premise, second writing a script around this premise, third rehearsing the script repeatedly, fourth cutting what does not feel natural in performance from the script, while adding new ideas to it, and finally perfection, which involves repeating steps three and four until you feel it is ready for live presentation.

To many this will feel like a process that can only be applied to stage work. Not at all so. In fact stage and closeup are very much alike. I would say that their only two differences are, observational vantage point, (the audience is far away from a stage, and therefor there are considerations of effect visibility and performance staging to suit.) and scheduling (stage shows often occour at regularly scheduled intervals, within a particular time span). All other aspects of stage and closeup work should be treated identically.

When I say that your performances should be scripted and rehearsed, this by no means implies that it should not be fluid and changing. One should always keep an open eye for chance events that evoke a desired reaction from the audience. You should, however, take these additions and add them consciously and intentionally to your script. They should be rehearsed and perfected before being used again. The phrase most often heard is "if it works, keep it."

Many of you will disregard this post as too rigid, unnecessary, or worst of all, not applying to what it is that you do. I know this because that is what I did at first. Likewise I have seen many others do the same. I will tell you however, that there is no performance which can not benefit from this advise. Every performer, no matter how experienced, no matter how successful, no matter how talented, will better his or her performance with this advise.

I hope you all find something of use in these writings, and again, I encourage you to add your own thoughts.
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Joe Russell
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It is important that no matter how appealing an effect might be, you never do it unless it fits your character. Criss Angel doesn't always stay with his character, he's sometimes serious, funny, edgy, or emotional. You could say that Criss is sort of a "Magic *****" because he does whatever effects that are "cool" even if they don't fit his persona. It's my opinion that because he doesn't stick to one character he will slowly fade away out of the public eye. Now even though I'm not a fan of David Blaine either no one could ever say he didn't stick with his character Because of this he will live on in history as a great performer. So my answer to your question is that your character should be created as you go along but as soon as your happy and your audience is happy with the character you should stay within the character's boundries.
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Seth
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Interesting thoughts all around.

While I'd go along with the fact that my performing character should be some version of myself, I'd like to be devil's advocate and ask you guys then what about Pit Hartling and John Carney's alter-egos, the Heinz and Mr. Mysto respectively who I'm guessing aren't anything like them.

(although I do admit, neither of them are really close up personas which is what I should have stated I was thinking of.)
kregg
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Seth,
In theater, I usually have 3 to 5 weeks of rehearsal to develop a character. The character is always growing within the limits set by the director (not the actor). Contrary to what many have said, though it's easier to use yourself, developing a character comes out of specificity, not kinda, sorta, meandering.
Yes, you can develop a persona completely opposite from the real Seth. It's not a long slow process, but one that requires discipline.
The question is whether you have experience in character development and acting?

Best Wishes,
Kregg
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Big Daddy Cool
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BDC to the rescue.

I posted this some time ago, so It doesn't surprise me that you may not have seen it.

It is basically my 13 steps of character development from my lecture "Making Magic Your Own."

I think it will help you tremendously

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......forum=27
We'll catch ya on the Back of the Cereal Box!
John Pyka
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karbonkid
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Well, here I go deviating from the norm...sort of.

I am my character. My character is me. I'm never acting (well maybe a little surprised here and there, then again, I've seen these tricks a billion times), and I think, if you actually engage your audience, your character should be you. Maybe that doesn't work for everybody, but, it does for me. Granted, I'm not a stage performer, I'm a close-up worker, and everyone is amazed that I'm the same person doing magic and the same when I'm not doing magic.

I also leave tons of stuff to chance. I think, as a close-up worker, it's the only way to work. Granted, it's in the framework of said effect or presentation, sometimes it's not, though. You want to make it magical? Then that is how you do it. Be so well-versed in your craft that the focus is not on you so much as it is that moment. Could you have a magical moment with Bo-bo-the-farting-dog-clown-magician? Sure. But when Bo-bo, gets done, he ain't Bo-bo, no more.

A lot of people, do pull this off successfully. Carney (as I saw mentioned earlier) does a great job, but, I think he is one of a very few that do.

So...be yourself. It's honest in it's approach, and direct in it's effect. And when your specatators leave they will feel as they met someone...not some thing.
longhaired1
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Quote:
On 2006-01-14 23:21, Seth wrote:
What do you guys think? Should a character be organically evolved from countless performances or should it be consciously developed?


Plenty of good answers thus far.

As I prepare to enter the magic world again I've made the decision to focus exclusively on character development in the beginning, for the simple reason that selection of effects, actions, and scripting will be guided by the character of the person I'm portraying.

FWIW, the character I'm creating has almost nothing in common with myself outside of age and gender. I'm attempting to re-imagine the role of magician and I'm asking myself questions of what would a person in posession of magical skills be faced with in the modern world.
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