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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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magicalaurie
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Quote:
On 2006-09-11 16:58, P.T. Murphy wrote:
There is a school of thought here in Chicago that suggests that good acting is living truthfully from moment to moment under imaginery circumstances...


How does the idea of "living truthfully (honestly, sincerely)from moment to moment" apply to magic? Does it?


Hey, P.T., Chicago's not alone. Smile

I think the idea of "living truthfully (honestly, sincerely) from moment to moment" DOES apply to magic- absolutely.

I've also received notes on the "10 percent actor". You keep your awareness of performance, technique, through line in that "10 percent actor" in the back of your head-way back there- and don't let him take more than 10 percent. Smile
P.T. Murphy
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Jonathan-

Your answers are interesting. As an experienced actor my question to you is this. Have you ever acted? Is this something you have done in depth? Or are you just answering and offering advice in a "theoretical" sense?

There is only ONE truth when you are up on stage. You are either being honest (sincere, in the moment, call it what you will...) or you are NOT. Any actor worth their salt knows this. Any actor worth their salt also knows that those moments of honesty, truth, call it what you will are fleeting and that your goal as an actor is to be ONE with the moment one moment at a time.

However elusive they prove to be.

Let's not turn this into a semantic or intellectual excercise. To paraphrase Steve Martin...I believe..."Talking about ACTING is like tap dancing about architecture."

The more we talk about this the more we prove that we just don't get it!

Simon Bakker if you are interested in learning more about acting you must GO FOR IT! Listen to your instinct. Just do it. You are in for an adventure!


Posted: Sep 12, 2006 9:22am
-------------------------------------------
Magicalaurie-

10 % actor! YES! I dig it. I have tried to explain this to students in my acting classes. But could not.

This is it!

There really is that small percentage of our brain that MUST be aware of techinique and simple rules like "Don't REALLY stab your scene partner!" And don't upstage yourself! This is acting after all!

That holds true for we magicians as well. We learn the technique and we learn the rules of performance. Then we must allow the other 90% take over. That 90% encompasses our ability to connect with our audience, the willingness to express what lives deep inside of us, our ability to let what lives in our hearts to color our words and inform our script.

Yes...10%...thanks for that one!
P.T. Murphy
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Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-09-12 09:16, P.T. Murphy wrote:
Jonathan-
...Have you ever acted? Is this something you have done in depth? Or are you just answering and offering advice in a "theoretical" sense?...


Yes. Before even thinking about magic. I put some of my process work in the Genii article and suggested the use of sense memory exercises in the descriptions of a couple of items.

IMHO there is no "theory" for getting audience feedback and from that interpreting what a director might say. Such is part of a hands on process of doing. Or better yet, getting feedback from someone who has directed and can compare the script to what they perceive from a performance.

Honesty in the moment? Perhaps from the audience's perspective as the actor is supposed to vanish and leave only the character onstage (again from the perspective of the audience).

IMHO we have a great problem in magic, that of perspective. When making a statement in our discussions, do we address our staging issues or audience perspective? Or worse, flicker between the two?
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P.T. Murphy
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JT-
Can you explain what you mean by all if this? I am not sure we are connecting here.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Yes I have read scripts, taken direction and been onstage before the public in non-magical theatrical productions.

I see working from a script and taking direction as useful.

I feel our magic discussions online and in print get muddled when statements are not carfully delineated between audience and performing perspective.

I am not able to do, think, be and know at the same instant.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
P.T. Murphy
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"I am not able to do, think, be and know at the same instant."

Ah...the Zen of it all...

I think I agree with this statement. As performers we should NOT expect to do, think, be and know in the same instant. I think as magicians we have not been taught this. And that is where we get confused. I think for many of us we feel all of the pressure of writer, producer, director and performer...where as in the "real" world these duties are divided up amongst many individuals.

I see now...I think...

We write. We practice. We rehearse. THEN WE DO. Hopefully we can get out of our way to DO.

As Magicalaurie has suggested we store all of the processed info in that 10% of our brain and allow the 90% that is NOT thinking about those things to FLOW, in the moment of the performance. If we have trained ourselves to listen to our audience we can react to them, entertain them, enlighten them.
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magicalaurie
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On 2006-09-12 09:22, P.T. Murphy wrote:
Yes...10%...thanks for that one!


Most welcome, P.T. Smile
karbonkid
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I think that some people use the whole acting/presentational approach to magic as an excuse for bad technique. It's not all about technique, but, it's not all about acting either.

I could puke blood when I see magicians perform with their very lack luster, going through the motions, canned patter garbage. The magic looks fine, but it's insincere and robotic because of the performance.

When you ask one of these people, or suggest how they can liven it up, they say they are actors, blah, blah, blah, puke.
Jonathan Townsend
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At some point we need to get our terms down. Here is a short list;

Script (the WRITTEN work as to be performed)

Blocking (what goes where and when - including the peformer's actions)

Magic specific techinque (loads, steals... )

Audience Rapport (yes they have to want to watch you else they change the channel)

Character work (backstory, wardrobe, manerisms, speech pattern)

To KK, I doubt the magic looked fine. I bet the peformance looked like some sort of robot was doing something that may as well have been assembling or painting a car. Does the assembly line look proud when the car rolls off the line or dies it just push them out? Smile
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Whit Haydn
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Quote:
On 2006-09-12 12:01, karbonkid wrote:
I think that some people use the whole acting/presentational approach to magic as an excuse for bad technique. It's not all about technique, but, it's not all about acting either.

I could puke blood when I see magicians perform with their very lack luster, going through the motions, canned patter garbage. The magic looks fine, but it's insincere and robotic because of the performance.

When you ask one of these people, or suggest how they can liven it up, they say they are actors, blah, blah, blah, puke.


That may be sometimes true, but it takes away nothing from the import of the argument. The best magicians are both good actors and good magic technicians.

What is the point of talking about anything less?
karbonkid
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Both of you are absolutely true, I guess when I think that the mis-guided magician who is told to be an actor, etc., takes that advice to a very rigid level.

For me, I don't subscribe to the thought of being a skilled actor, as I am who I am, and there is very little if any noticable difference between me and my performance. It is very conversational and intimate, and I like that...but I never feel as though I am acting. Maybe it's because I am one in the same with my peformance.

Does anyone who is actively performing feel like you are acting, or not? And moreover, do you feel like your performance character is drastically different from you?
P.T. Murphy
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On 2006-09-12 13:25, karbonkid wrote:

For me, I don't subscribe to the thought of being a skilled actor, as I am who I am, and there is very little if any noticable difference between me and my performance. It is very conversational and intimate, and I like that...but I never feel as though I am acting. Maybe it's because I am one in the same with my peformance.



My friend...you have stumbled onto the WAY! When you are ACTING you do NOT feel as if you are doing ANYTHING.

All great performers should be one in the same with their performance.

In my opinion you have mastered the two hardest parts of performing magic. CONVERSATIONAL and INTIMATE. Really.

Good for you!
P.T. Murphy
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Jonathan Townsend
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On 2006-09-12 13:25, karbonkid wrote:...I am who I am, and there is very little if any noticable difference between me and my performance...


If you perform as yourself, fine. That is one of MANY options when performing. Seems an unnecessary constraint but if it suffices for you, congrats.
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P.T. Murphy
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On 2006-09-12 14:15, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Quote:
On 2006-09-12 13:25, karbonkid wrote:...I am who I am, and there is very little if any noticable difference between me and my performance...


If you perform as yourself, fine. That is one of MANY options when performing. Seems an unnecessary constraint but if it suffices for you, congrats.


JT-

I am shocked by your response.

"Seems like an unnecessary constraint…"

You meant that sarcastically I hope?

All we have as performers, magicians, actors, musicians, etc. is our individuality. The seed of any successful performance begins with this understanding and comes into it's own when the performer has the courage to let this be seen by their audience.

As individuals we should be nurtured and allowed to grow.

In our everyday life we are trodden upon by ignorance. The ignorance of parents who don't know better and beat that individuality out of their child. The ignorance of a society that is too frightened to let its member’s blossom, so bent on making sure everybody falls into line.

We deal with enough challenges as everyday people. We as artists should NOT make it harder on each other to move forward. To discover. To change.

Our duty as performers, artists, etc. is to EXPRESS what lives inside of us.

There is NOTHING unnecessary or constraining about that notion.

Any great actor will tell you that the character they play is born out of who they are as people. THEN and ONLY then do the other more technical aspects of character work come into play.

Sure, sometimes you have problems connecting with the character and need to put on the hat or find the right pair of shoes to get you in the right mindset. BUT there is an internal, dare I say magical quality, an inner transformation that takes place when you have figured out who the character is.

That character is NEVER somebody OTHER than yourself. EVER. Yes you are PRETENDING to be another...BUT you are NEVER REALLY another are you?

Perhaps we are discovering the semantic problems with approaching this subject from an "oustiders" point of view and an "insiders" point of view. I realize that what I am saying will only make sense to those that have experienced it.

Karbonkid should be congratulated on having the awareness to understand that the roots of a great performance start with yourself.
P.T. Murphy
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Jonathan Townsend
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Very good to start with yourself. But then important to become your character. I watched theater students ejected from the program at SUNY Purchase for making insufficient progress toward their onstage characters.

While we may not go home tonight to a castle in Denmark or Scotland, we may need to explore what sort of "me" would be there.

How would we react to the "weird sisters" on our way home? Would that be right for the Scottish noble with ambitious wife?

Or would we rewrite our classics to suit our own preferences and limitations?

Something about the melancholy Dane's soliloquy performed in angst upon a therapist's couch seems less than dramatic. But still not sarcastic.
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tommy
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Yes well there are as many truths as men, as each as his own point of view. Does the actor give his point of view to the audience or the point of view of the character that he is playing. Perhaps he gives his point of view of what he thinks the characters point of view is. Even in a documentary you can not show the audience the truth but you can reflect the truth to them as you see it. What point of view would a real magician have of magic and how would he reflect that to the audience.
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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On 2006-09-12 15:40, tommy wrote:...What point of view would a real magician have of magic and how would he reflect that to the audience.


Big smile reading that.

A great place from which to explore a character and its backstory.
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tommy
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Yes even real magicians would have different points of view of magic wouldn’t they. I guess. They would be different characters, of course. So it comes back to your point view of what you think your magicians character should be. Then you need to go to acting school to learn to play the part. OK I am getting it. So do think it is better for you to think up a character or to ask a good writer to think up a character for you.
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 2006-09-12 16:07, tommy wrote:
...think it is better for you to think up a character or to ask a good writer to think up a character for you.


Perhaps more efficient to try a few from scripts at the start.

I believe it would help a great deal to get some directorial help making that character happen for audiences. It really does take outside perspective to check what's happening internally against what the audience perceives.
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Clark
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I'm with Karbon and P.T. Murphy all the way on this one.

With all due respect JT, this isn't SUNY, it does relate somewhat as it is a highly personalized art form, but what these guys see as best for them is hardly "constraining" themselves.

Obviously Karbon IS HIS OWN character himself. The audience sees him perform and feels who he is as a character, himself. Not everyone feels the need to be someone else. If one is genuinely interesting, funny, intelligent, or whatever, the audience will see that is part of the character that they are being exposed to. I don't understand the need to search out something that your not? It seems to me that the acting part of this equation is being pushed past it's rightful limits.

I do however find your post most interesting. I find your desire to expand most fascinating. You are making me give quite bit of thought to the BEST way that I can convey myself as a 'character' to my audience.
“The key to creativity is in knowing how to hide your sources.”
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