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Hello all,

As I said in my "New Member" post, I have written an act inspired by Mac Ronay's "Professor and Robot" (I don't know the official name - sorry). This act has been suggested to our party as a part of our 25-anniversary-show in november...

I post it here for two reasons:

1) I ask you: Is this my act? Stupid question - I don't think so; when I come to think of something, I can bet someone else has beaten me! So: Have you performed or seen performed a similar act before today? If so; when and by whom? (If not, I guess the rights to this act are mine... Smile)

2) I would like criticism/reviews...

So, I say "Thanks In Advance!" to all the respected members of this board that will reply.

OK then:

You must imagine this is a silent, black-and-white movie. The music is a piano. Descriptive text and dialogue (below within quotes) are displayed in white on black. The light flickers.

"5" - "4" - "3" - "2" - "1"
"ROBOTICA I - Perpetuum Mobile"
"In The Laboratory"
Light on stage.

The stage:
* At the left is a thin metal hanger, in the shape of a gallow, 170 cm high
* At the center is a 1meter high cabinet with meters and knobs and such at the front
- On top of the cabinet is a glass-bowl, open end down
- The bowl is connected to the cabinet by tubes and such
- Inside the bowl is a white, bald head. The eyes and the mouth are black lines. The nostrils are black dots. It looks like a baloon
* At the right is a person, half-turned away from the audience. He has a big, white, fuzzy hair. He is obviously buttoning his laboratory-coat.
- To the left of him are some metal-sticks on the floor
- To the right of him is a control-apparatus/-panel

The professor buttons his coat.
He picks the metal-sticks up and investigates them. They are assembled like a stick-figure with big hands and feet but no head.
Igor enters. The professor points to the hanger and the stick-figure and Igor takes it and hangs it up.
"-Now let's start our tests!"
The professor works with the controls and finally, the stick-figure moves an arm.
The professor works more and the hanging stick-figure moves one part after the other and can finally move them all at the same time.
The professor is very satisfied and says:
"-Let us begin our last test!"
Igor goes to the cabinet, lifts the bowl and takes the head. He returns to the hanger and takes the stick-figure down.
With some struggle, he eventually assembles the head on the stick-figure and after a while more, it can stand by itself.
So the professor starts working with his controls...
"-Open your eyes, robot!"
The stick-figure opens his eyes and twinkle.
Some more work...
"-Talk, robot!"
The stick-figure opens his mouth and moves it
The professor works more at his controls and finally the stick-figure moves his mouth:
"-I can talk!"
The professor jumps of joy and works frenetically and the robot starts walking. It walks a bit randomly but you can see on the professor that something is wrong. He's not happy and points and make gestures.
The stick-figure is coming closer to him and he shouts:
But the stick-figure doesn't stop but comes beside him and grabs him around his stomach.
The professor's coat falls to the floor - there was no body inside!
The stick-figure catches the falling head, investigates it, takes the hair off, places the head on the floor and puts the hair on himself.
He picks up the coat and some metal-rods fall out. He takes the coat on but doesn't button it.
He takes the head, that now looks like his own did in the beginning, and places it under the bowl on the cabinet.
He returns to the metal-sticks on the floor and finishes buttoning his coat.
He picks the metal-sticks up and investigates them. They are assembled like a stick-figure with big hands and feet but no head.
Igor enters. The professor points to the hanger and the stick-figure and Igor takes it and hangs it up.
"The End???"

The piano becomes silent. Sudden, total darkness for only a brief moment. The lights dims up and the complete ensemble is on stage - normally dressed.


Well, what do you think? Is it mine or not? And: If it's mine; is it any good? I *do* think we have to perform in front of a live audience to find the best length of the repeat, as I'm not certain of it... But apart from that?

Thanks In Advance,
Gene Fornby
Bill Hallahan
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The idea is his, the script might be yours if you didn't copy any lines from his show.

Your act couldn't precede or follow his without one of the shows being seen as a copy.

I don't know if you want to perform this, but you could ask him for permission and see what he says.

And whether anyone has used this idea before isn't relevant if you got the idea from seeing him perform it. Imagine if you created an act and someone else came along and copied it. It would devalues both acts to the public.

That's my personal opinion.
Humans make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to create boredom. Quite astonishing.
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Hello Bill,

Thanks for your reply!

Although I'm not sure what you mean; the idea of a professor remotely controlling a robot is a copy, no matter what? Although the original idea has a climax - a surprise finish - compared to my idea that really has no end at all as the robot turns into the professor that in turn... (hence the name "Perpetuum Mobile")? As you mention the word "copy" twice, I get the feeling that - I your opinion - my script is a copy of Mac Ronay's act.??

I have mailed the Magic Circle HQ (as suggested by Bill Palmer), describing the first version of the act, asking them to put me in contact with Al Carthy. There is no reply so far and I haven't been able to find a way to contact him directly (missed something?) so I decided to re-write the act. And the above was the result.

No, Bill, I wouldn't like it if someone copied my act and performed it. But is my act a copy, you mean? If I had already been performing the act I describe above, and then Mac Ronay write up his act, I don't *think* I'd call it a copy... I mean; Mac Ronay found an ending twist that makes the act *totally* different from mine by making the audience jump where my act just slowly goes on.

After FISM (yes, I'll be there) I'll start a project building a version of Artist's Dream that I hope will turn out to be a really nice one. I haven't seen one single instruction or blue-print of this illusion before but I've read about it, seen it performed and got the idea how to make it my way, combined with some other illusions. The result will be quite like the original but not all of it... Is your personal opinion that I should not build this illusion - and perform it?

Jonathan Townsend
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The act where a person builds an automaton which then proceeds to dismember the person is something that dates back a good fifty years now. The methodology could be extended to complete the cycle AND this is fairly implicit in the script of the original. Essentially the audience discovers that the performer is an automaton which has built itself a new body and transfers in.

What's new here? I recall a photo of an act of this sort from back in the 1960s.

Is it the script?

Anyway, please do your research and find out whose act this was (is?) and get their feelings and input about your interests. For all you know they may be enthusiastic about your script and offer to help you. all the coins I've dropped here
George Ledo
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I seem to remember reading about a routine done by somebody in the early part of the 20th Century where a dancer comes on stage and the performer cuts off one limb at a time until there's nothing left. I'll have to dig into my library and look it up, but it might have been Maskelyne.

In any case, the basic idea seems to be quite old -- older than the 1960's.

Bill Hallahan has a good point, too: "Your act couldn't precede or follow his without one of the shows being seen as a copy." Think in terms of watching Romeo and Juliet back to back with West Side Story. Did Bernstein copy Shakespeare? Or did he take an idea and develop it into something fresh and relevant for the time? You may want to take a peek at my column on "Inspiration and Adaptation: A Trade Secret Revealed" in the Buffet section; I go into this quite a bit.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine

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Hello all,

Re-reading my above reply to Bill, I find that I must have been rather exhausted after the eight-hour trip to Stockholm (FISM)... So some of it was not relevant and other did not come out as intended. I am sorry for that.

In short:
I posted the above script in the "We Double Dare You" section as it is "the place to post ideas and plots..." asking the simple question "Is this my act?". Now, it was moved to this section where ETHICS are discussed...? If it is the general opinion that it is a copy we, of course, would not perform it. The script was SUGGESTED by me to our group. I have NEVER had ANY intention to behave un-ethical! Simple "yes" or "no" replies would be enough... Discussing ethics?

My very first post at The Magic Café was actually asking: "Who was the originator?" in the section "Everything Is New Again". I wanted to know, in order to credit the correct person and, if necessary, ask for permission to perform it once. (In that post I used the word "will" the wrong way; should be "want to", an error because of language-difficulties... English is not my mother-of-tongue.)

Regarding history research:
In the detailed script (including the written introduction in the programme and all methods - not posted here) I credit the originator by the words "...loosely based on an original idea by Mac Ronay" (and the years of his birth and death - I have not got them here in Stockholm). The only time I have seen it performed was in the early 60s (maybe late 50s?? I was still young) but it was filmed - or at least gave the impression of - pre WW2...

Regarding the rights today:
I have been told that Al Carthy holds the rights today. I HAVE tried to contact him - as said in the above post - to no avail. DO YOU KNOW any way I can get into contact with him I will - of course - write him. I can not find a web-site when I google.

Jonathan; I am not sure we are talking about the same act... In the one I saw, the effect is that the robot finally rips the head off of the professor and the professor is NOT a robot because, as I remember it, he dies from that and the act ends immediately, while the audience is still in chock... The way you put it, my script sure IS a copy but as I remember it is not possible to continue the act after that point: The professor is a professor and nothing else - until afterwords when the audience UNDERSTAND what happened on stage, but that is not part of the story. Please note: This is as I remember the act. Maybe I am wrong...?

Regarding performing the two acts one after the other:
OF COURSE it would not be a good idea. (The audience here at FISM watching the Stage Competition know what you say, especially when you have seen a few of the contestants in "manipulation"...) But I would also think that performing two "sawing someone in half"-acts one after the other would be a bad idea, even using two VERY different methods. But that is just my personal opinion.

Last and AGAIN:
If anyone can put me in contact with Al Carthy, I will be really grateful!

Best regards,

PS. Any more posts from me will probably not be possible until Wednesday (one week from now) when I have returned home.
Jonathan Townsend
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I hope you enjoy FISM and perhaps there someone can get you good contact information.

After the Capek's play R.U.R. made the rounds (1920s) the magic side of "what's a robot and what's human?" likely hit the stage within the decade.

Whatever comes of the project, keep a focus on the audience. Original or not, they do like magic.

:) all the coins I've dropped here
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