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RyanCarder
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"I was wondering how anyone with a little presentation such as above could actually make escapes boring? To me, escapes seems like an artform that is interesting and intriguing to watch. Just looking at someone attempting it is fun to watch, isn't it? "

Acextremem,
To answer that, it is very boring to watch. Imagine being a spectator at a show. The performer shows the audience 100' of rope and asks if a couple people will come on stage and assist them. Then for the next 3-5 mins the performer gets tied up.( which is a long time for the audience to just sit there and watch.) Even with music, or maybe some comitic patter it will still be a bit boring to watch. The reason its boring is nothing is really happening. With stage magic there is an intro, climax and conclusion to every effect. For the most part with an escape its more a demonstration of dexderity and skill rather then showing someone something that is truley "impossible". From personal experience ive had people tell me " wow, I could have done that, you just wiggled out of the ropes." or " You probably just used a key for your handcuffs". I think that escapes can be like a traditional trick, with a intro, climax and conclusion in some ways. If you told some story about the escape you were about to do. That would set the mood( that would be the intro). Then you would go into the escape, being tied up, handcuffed, etc. but at the same time there would be music to go along with the escape.. something that would reflect the mood you set in the intro. You could also say things like " I've never performed this live before so I cant gaurentee that I will make it out" or " what I'm about to undergo will be very painful and if not done correctly could cost me my life" something to that effect. This would help keep the audience interested during the boring moments of getting secured into the devices youre to escape from. Next you would then perform the escape. Now its crucial to not just escape and nothing else. It would alost ruin all the work you put into presentation and patter. So, what you should do is add elements that would make the escape dramatic. Houdini did this well, with his torturecel he would place a giant clock on stage so the audience could see every second pass. He would have to men armed with axes ready to break open the cell if anthing were to go wrong. The best thing he did well is having the ability to judge the audience. It may have only taken him 30 seconds to escape from the device, but he would sit behind it for several mins. I read once he sat behind his curtain that covered his water cell for 45 mins. The music kept playing, and the people just sat there looking at a curtain. Some were scared that he had died and no one was doing anything about it. People were shouting to help, some were about to leave. Finally, Houdini stepped out and every man , women and child stood in their seats screaming and cheering. There are very few performers today who could ever hold a crowd like he did. Escapology is a wonderous art, It is often not appreciated for how difficult it really is. I think with a little imagination you could really do a lot with escapology. Its about 3am my time and I'm really beat lol. Oh sorry for any spelling errors and if you need anything or want some advice please feel free to IM me on AIM at TheCuffKing. Thanks
EggMan
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Hi Acextreme,

Have you seen the Claustrophobia Box designed by JC Sum? I think it is performed by someone from Singapore. Check out his website http://www.illusionbooks.com. Hope this bit of info helps!
Acextreme
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RyanCarder:

Thanks for the elaboration. I kind of get what you mean just to be sure, let me clarify things a bit. If I didn't get you wrong, you meant:

(1) Intro - You should set up the mode, reason or whatever that is needed in order to start the effect you are doing, right? So maybe over here, you could tell a story of a person who once challenged you on the streets a few years ago that you would not be able to escape from a 100 foot of rope for a $100. With that intro, you can then get people to tie you up with it and move on with the effect, right?

(2) Middle part - So during the tying-you-up phrase, you would have music playing at the background and maybe also comment that they aren't tying you up tight enough or something to that extend, so that things won't get boring. You might also mention that you need a timer and proceeds to select an audience to be the timer and then explain to them what's their job as a timer. Basically, keep talking so that the boring phrase does not appear to be boring, am I right?

(3) Climax - This is the part where you attempt to get out of the predicament - in this case, the challenge. The key then is to make it look painful and difficult (even when it's actually easy) and makes it seem like you won't get out of the challenge. While at the same time, you have the timer calling out the time every 5 seconds that went by. YOu can make it even more dramatic by say falling off the chair and struggling to portray how difficult it is. Basically, over here, it's all about acting so as to get the audience to sit on the edge of their chair, am I right?

So did I get all those points right? These are the things or fomular to make escapes not boring to watch? Thanks!
jeremysweiss
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AceExtreme:

Firstly, I would have to answer "...wouldn't getting the audience up on the stage as a challenge and tie you with a 100 foot of rope generate that kind of interest that you are referring to?"...

...with a frank "No".

And

"I was wondering how anyone with a little presentation such as above could actually make escapes boring? To me, escapes seems like an artform that is interesting and intriguing to watch. Just looking at someone attempting it is fun to watch, isn't it?"

Escapes, by their nature, are a generally an inherently powerful device. So even e mediocre performer can do the trick and have everyone respond with "Wow! How did he get out of those cuffs?". But to them, it was a trick. A good one, but nothing more than a puzzle to figure out. Puzzles are fun. But, I don't think that is what you want. You don't want your audience trying to figure out the answer to a puzzle. (Especially, since the answer to the puzzle is generally pretty easy--the cuffs were gaffed or you had the key, or you switched them...) You want them wowed by you and how entertaining you are. I agree escapes are amazing and some escapes even stand on their own (just be their very nature of self building drama). But without adequate presentation they really only stand on one leg. Houdini had the showmanship part down. As a card magician, the king of cards kind of sucked compared to others of the day. But he had his showmanship! (Houdini aslo thought that escapes should never be "funny", they should always be serious. I am not so sure.)

But, I think you are on a right track. Storytelling is a great means to build drama and interest. In fact, it is essential. However, rather than tell a story about a person who once challenged you to escape 100 foot of rope for a $100, you should simply pull out the biggest, strongest looking audience member(s) and give him $100. Tell him that he can keep it, if you can't escape in less than the time it takes him to tie you up. THAT will build interest. The more money on the line. The more tension.

A funnier plot might be that the guy gets to sleep with your assistant, who is clearly a former porn star. (Depends on your venue...not good for a kid's birthday party. Maybe good at an old folks home if you are being supported by Pfizer and are wearing a VIAGRA t-shirt.) This is one of the million plots you could use.

Middle part: Again, you are on the right track. You'd better have a lot to say and some stuff to do with money. You have got to figure out a way to have the audience want you to get your money back. (You will donate the proceeds to charity or use it to pay off your bookie, etc.) Make sure the audience doesn't feel like you will hvae shorted the vollunteer if you succeed.

I suggest you practice a few times to see how long it takes people to tie you up. If it is more than 1 min., it will feel like FOREVER when you are on stage. (If you use the "porn star" plot, then you could do a lot of funny things at this juncture. Lots of banter about how dare you put her on the line like that, etc., etc.)

Climax: Must be a tension reliever. (uhh, I am going to stay away from the porn star comments right now.)
The Shock Doc
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<BR>http://ballycast.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/ballycast-024-2009-03-21.mp3
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<BR>"....Jeremy Weiss has the greatest card trick of ALL TIME!"--Jamie D. Grant.
<BR>Start listening to iTricks 11/12/09
drwilson
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Jeremy,

Great post. No wonder people like your show!

Yours,

Paul
Acextreme
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Thanks, Jeremy. Other than storytelling, I was wondering are there any other ways where you can start it off. I mean, if you got 7-8 routines, are you going to tell a story or challenge each time? It would get old, won't it? What other ways are there to start things off which will build drama and interest?
Harley Newman
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Storytelling doesn't necessarily mean "once upon a time, they lived happily ever after". It means that the audience can follow from point A to point B to point C in your show, without having the logical sequence of events broken.

It helps to have a hook, some way of getting the audience to identify with you. And the hook needs to be part of your script.

You need to set up some variety of dramatic conflict, a problem, and figure ot how to resolve it.

Scripting doesn't necessarily mean, the words you say. I work with three scripts, interlaced. One, is the physical techniques that are necessary to do a stunt. The second, is the way I work the audience, which involves words, movements, sounds. The third is something else, for which I have no words.

And it all needs to be second nature to you. If you have to think about it, then there needs to be a theatrical reason for that thinking. Everything you do onstage, should have a theatrical reason. Otherwise, you get a disconnect with the audience, and it doesn't matter how amazing the thing you do is...you flop.
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jeremysweiss
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Ok...let's think of a few ways to approach this. If you plan on doing a show that ONLY consists of escapes, and you don't want people to be bored by the 3rd time they see you escape you could:


A) Build a character that (for some reason or other) simply cannot be contained by any restraint. Why would that be? Is he a guy who has leard this for fun? Is he an ex-spy who learned these secrets in teh context of his job--which he abandoned because of a job gione wrong? Is he an ex-con who now works with police departments? Is he an ex-theif who now helps insurance companies make banks more secure?

This is the concept that someone like Harry Anderson uses. Harry the Hat. A funny loveable conman guy. You enjoy watching him go from con game to con game. (As opposed to a guy standing in front of you showing you 3 card monte, then showing you the shell game, then showing you the....)


B) Another might be telling a story where the "magic" is secondary to the story, but in a context.

For instance, when you watch a James Bond film, you KNOW that James Bond is going to win. You know that, at some point, he is going to be in an impossible predicament, and is going to escape in some implausible way--a way which you would have never thought of, or would never have the capability of pulling off ('cause you don't have the special decoder ring, given to him by Q). BUT, you watch the film anyway because it is a good yarn.

If you have a good story where you can insert the escapes, then you have two great things going on in your show. A great story--one worth watching (even if it dodn't have escapes) AND great "escapes".


Your show, should be a backdrop for you escapes. Think about what that could be. It could be part of your character. It could be part of a story. It could be more than A or B--meaning there are even more methods of constructing a show.

Keep in mind, that I am NOT a working professional. I am a performance novice. So, my advice may not be the best. MY show(s), still suck. But I am working on them and I expect to refine them over time. I am, more or less, letting you know what I (as an audience member) like to watch.

I really feel for the audience who watches some yahoo pull a rabbit out of a hat and go on to cutting ropes in half and restoring them without any show in between. I know the audience isn't really as entertained as the could be when they are watching a series of tricks strung together. So that makes my skin crawl. It is why people make so much fun of magicians.

I will put up with it because I have different criteria than the audience. Even without story, if someone cuts a rope and restores it beautifully, I appreciate it because I know how tough it can be to do. So it entertains ME. (But they show still sucked.)

I am getting off track, but a while ago I went to Monday Night Magic in NYC. In the audience was Jamy Ian Swiss, Simon Lovell, James Randi and Teller. I thought to myself, why are these guys--these guys who know EVERY trick known to man (or at least have the resources to figure it out), what purpose would they possibly have by coming to MMN and watching a bunch of magicians who aren't nearly as famous or impactful as they are, get out of a straightjacket and levitate a Zombie? (Really, I mean doing a straightjacket escape in front of Teller?). How on earth could these guys find this at all entertaining---they know how every trick is all done AND they have seen it a million times. They wrote the books on it. Why bother? They found it entertaining becasue they were watching to see the other performers' showmanship WHILE they did their effects.
The Shock Doc
<BR>www.TheShockDocShow.com
<BR>
<BR>
<BR>http://ballycast.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/ballycast-024-2009-03-21.mp3
<BR>
<BR>"....Jeremy Weiss has the greatest card trick of ALL TIME!"--Jamie D. Grant.
<BR>Start listening to iTricks 11/12/09
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