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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Studying theater (for close-up) (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Simon Bakker
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Hello everyone,

I hope this forum is the right one to ask my question, here it goes:

Can anyone point me to some books or other material on theater(techniques) for close up (and stand up) magicians?

I only perform tablehopping but I want to make a move to more stand up and parlour type situations. I have the feeling I can express my self more through this type of performing, but have very little experience with it. I realise there is a lot that need to be studied (public speaking, body movements, connecting with audiences, etc) and it all fascinates me.

I'm talking about presentational and theatrical techniques for magicians, I'm not searching for effects that are suitable for this kind of performance.

Thanks!

Simon
JimMaloney
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I'll give you some references to books about acting. These are not "acting for magicians" books, but rather books that actors study from. They are just as valuable to magicians.

"An Actor Prepares", by Constantin Stanislavski (this in generally considered the bible for actors)
"Respect for Acting", by Uta Hagen
"A Practical Handbook for the Actor" by Melissa Bruder, Lee Michael Cohen, Madeline Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previto, and Scott Zigler (students of David Mamet)
"Sanford Meisner on Acting", by Sanford Meisner, Dennis Longwell, and Sydney Pollack
"Impro", by Keith Johnstone
"Impro for Storytellers", by Keith Johnstone

-Jim
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Jonathan Townsend
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Save yourself much trouble and find friends in the theater. To date, few magicians have gotten over "clever me" to read scripts, find the magic in scripts and fewer still have gone on to explore ways to bring stories to others.

There is life beyond the mirror. Pleasing ones reflection does not always satisfy.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
kregg
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When you tell stories, are people engaged by your story, or do they lose interest?
What makes a good book? The story. Acting technique and magic tricks are only a part of the story.
POOF!
Darkwing
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I agree with Jonathan. I have been very fortunate in my checkered magical career (for lack of a better term). In the church I attend, we have a very active drama department and have been involved as an actor in productions of dramas, comedies, and musicals. We also have a very active comedy improv group directed by a couple who were once involved with Second City improv. I also have been fortunate to be around some very talented theater folks who also happen to be comedians and magicians. This being said, I feel that it has made me a better performer. It has made me better on my feet, character development, scripting routines, blocking, timing, presentation, stage presence, and the list goes on.

To get better at your art you have to reach out beyond your art and learn acting and other creative techniques. So search out those people outside your magical friends and dive in head first.

Be of good cheer, it's a lot of fun.

David Williams
tommy
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Grand advice! But what about “Close-Up”
Lets assume we have taken the advice and have become wonderful actors. Now how do we marry these new found skills to “close up” magic on a “stage”, which by it’s nature, is not so close-up to an audience. Isn’t close-up magic better performed close up. I am not giving any advice here, as I don’t know, but it seems to me, if you intend doing stage magic, your better off leaning some magic that is suited to the stage rather than the table.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-08-29 05:59, tommy wrote:
Grand advice! But what about “Close-Up”
Lets assume we have taken the advice and have become wonderful actors. Now how do we marry these new found skills to “close up” magic on a “stage”, which by it’s nature, is not so close-up to an audience. Isn’t close-up magic better performed close up. I am not giving any advice here, as I don’t know, but it seems to me, if you intend doing stage magic, your better off leaning some magic that is suited to the stage rather than the table.



Since when is acting technique not applicable to closeup? Whether used to play a role in a confidence game or used on stage to play to the balcony or used on TV to get just the right expression and tonality for the viewer ... it's acting. There is little sense in focussing on a specialization of venue till one has a solid foundation upon which to build. Rather than get involved in a gang running cons (closeup acting) it is much safer and simpler to get into the theater.

It this case the larger issue is that of getting comfortable reading scripts, working through scripts to block a performance and then getting feedback from other actors and directors to refine ones ability to communicate.

This is not book learning. This is about DOING in the presence of others who DO and then being attentive to their feedback.

To summarize; whether playing to the dinner table, office gathering, banquet hall or packed theater, it's all coming from the same place... you have something to communicate. Let's take it for granted that most in magic have not performed on stage in theatrical productions and may need some time to get themselves into a theater group and then another season or two to get comfortable. IMHO the sooner the better for this learning.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
JimMaloney
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Silent scripts, "The Magic If", knowing the beats, being in the moment, etc. are all things that apply equally to performances where your audience is two feet away or two hundred feet away.

What will change is scale: the size of movements and expressions, projecting your voice, etc. For a larger audience, you'll be somewhat broader, whereas with a close-up audience, you'll want to bring things in a bit. But the source of the emotion, the characterization ... that all comes from an internal place and learning that will give you a huge advantage, no matter the size of your audience.

-Jim
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tommy
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I did not say that acting was not as important for close up magic. I say that close up magic is not suited to the stage in a theatre. Simon as I understand it wants to do magic on a stage "I only perform tablehopping but I want to make a move to more stand up and parlour type situations." but says "Studying theater (for close-up)". The study of drama and acting for close up is great but studying close up magic for stage presentation is an althogether differnt thing isn't it?
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
JimMaloney
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Not if you're studying Nate Leipzig's act. Smile

-Jim
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tommy
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Close up magic by it’s very nature is small in scale and meant for an audience of people who are close up, so they can see. If you increase the size of the magic, it’s no longer close up magic. Card magic is not really suited to a theatre presentation. You can use jumbo cards but even a good actor can not palm one. Smile
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
JimMaloney
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In general, yes, I agree with you. But Leipzig was an exception -- he showed that even card tricks (using a normal sized deck) could be done for a large audience. Studying his act can give you a new perspective on what's possible.

-Jim
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Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-08-29 10:36, tommy wrote:
If you increase the size of the magic, it’s no longer close up magic. Card magic is not really suited to a theatre presentation. You can use jumbo cards but even a good actor can not palm one. Smile


Let's not confound methodology with presentation. Yes there are jumbo card tricks that work closeup and as with split fans etc regular sized card magic that can play in the theater.

Amd as Jim mentioned, you can get a committee on stage and let them serve as proxy for the larger audience. Here it becomes especially important to know how to play to those nearby and to those in the balcony.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
kregg
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Quote:
On 2006-08-29 05:59, tommy wrote:
Grand advice! But what about “Close-Up”


"Mr, Demille, I'm ready for my close up."

Acting up close is the same as stage, only it's smaller and if you don't really mean it, you'd better be good at faking it. Unless you're trying to be Ben Affleck?
POOF!
magicalaurie
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Quote:
On 2006-08-29 09:56, JimMaloney wrote:
Silent scripts, "The Magic If", knowing the beats, being in the moment, etc. are all things that apply equally to performances where your audience is two feet away or two hundred feet away.

What will change is scale: the size of movements and expressions, projecting your voice, etc. For a larger audience, you'll be somewhat broader, whereas with a close-up audience, you'll want to bring things in a bit. But the source of the emotion, the characterization ... that all comes from an internal place and learning that will give you a huge advantage, no matter the size of your audience.

-Jim


Bang on, Jim. BE there. Smile
Noel M
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The performance of magic is 100% acting. There is no art of magic without acting. Knuckle busting, self-working, gaffs, shells, etc are just the props of an actor.
tommy
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If: “The performance of magic is 100% acting. There is no art of magic without acting. Knuckle busting, self-working, gaffs, shells, etc are just the props of an actor.”
Then everything is 100% acting and everything is a prop. I.e. The performance of athletics is 100% acting and the athletes body is a prop. While the great magician acts the part of great magician the great athlete acts the part of great athlete. So ask yourself what makes magic an art and athletics a sport.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Jonathan Townsend
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The distinction is between magic and the mundane.

The athlete may jump to the moon. The magician reaches into his pocket and produces the moon.

I wonder why such basic questions need to be discussed outside the beginner's table.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
tommy
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A giant leap for a mankind but a walk in the park for John. Smile
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Whit Haydn
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Quote:
On 2006-08-29 10:36, tommy wrote:
Close up magic by it’s very nature is small in scale and meant for an audience of people who are close up, so they can see. If you increase the size of the magic, it’s no longer close up magic. Card magic is not really suited to a theatre presentation. You can use jumbo cards but even a good actor can not palm one. Smile



Actually, Jack Miller had a successful stage manipulation act using jumbo cards, and he even backpalmed them.

Magic is not 100% acting. But good acting is essential to all magic.

I highly recommend that the close-up performer study the technique of improvisation, and Viola Spolin's theater games are a great way to learn. They can be studied by any group of two or three that are interested.
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