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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Are Magicians Actors? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Burt Yaroch
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To answer the topic of this thread first, I would like your critical opinion focused clearly here:

Are magicians actors? Do you feel these performing arts are synonomous?

Once you have answered that please feel free to interject your feelings as to where you think magicians should fall in the caste (or cast) of the theatrical universe.

My responses:

No. Magicains are definitely not actors. David Blane. 'Nuff said.

As to the rather delicate invitation that followed, I for one do hold magicians in higher regard than I do actors. I would much rather sit down to dinner with anyone here than say, Tom Cruise. (Patrick Stewart might edge you guys out, sorry.) I don't understand why so many magicains have this self-deflated image of themselves, or more specifically, their position in the hierarchy of the performing arts. But I do know this, if you wish to change your position in said hierarcy you need to change magic from within and not attempt to pigeonhole magic into a more "socially acceptable" catagory.

My thoughts. What say you all?
Yakworld.
Dennis Michael
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I would have agreed with you, except I took two years of acting classes.

It definately helps. Just look at what Joanie Spina say on her videos about line and form. When you know these and apply them to pointing it becomes acting. It definately helped Jeff McBride and how he performs. I understand Copperfield took dancing and tap dancing lessons. Voice projection, eye contact, and stage presence.

Magicians are not actors, but actors can be magicians. David Blaine is doing something right, he is well known for his magic, so was Jerry Lewis!
Dennis Michael
craig fothers
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I would say that magicians are not actors... but i would maintain that we, like actors, are entertainers - and because of that, there is going to be some crossover -

but perhaps magic is a bit more 'raw and real' since (for the most part) it is a person-to-person activity - there is even some kind of relationship involved with the spectators.

There are some essential differences between the two - but a few key similarities that allow both actors and magicians to 'get on with the job'.
Dennis Michael
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Are Magicians frustrated actors?

It is a tough business getting a part in a show, so the next best thing is to create your own magic show and sell it. If it's good it will sell. At least you're getting paid to act as a Magicial Entertainer, however, you may never be famous.
Dennis Michael
Burt Yaroch
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I'm glad someone else said that Dennis. I think that's where this perspective originated.

And I will agree with your previous point as well. A theatrical background can't hurt. Especially if you take your magic to the stage.

"You want me downstage? Right. Uh...where the Smile is that?"
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Jeb Sherrill
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This is a pretty complicated question, steeped in magic theory and indead artistic theory in general. From an abstract stand-point, all arts are the same. As a magician I am taking stabs at our perception of reality or portraying our perceptions of reality, just like any painter, or musician or dancer.

As far as acting itself is concerned, we might have to first ask what "acting" is? Actors pretend to be someone they are not, by projecting themselves into the role and making us believe that they are what they say they are. Magicians do essentially do the same. If we were not actors, then we would not be showing people how coins vanish; we would be showing them how we keep coins in one hand instead of the other. We are portraying things that aren't true and one might also say that we are actors portaying "real" magicians, which is true (but that is obvious and perhaps not what we're looking for).

Now if we mean, are magicians actors like stage actors, then no. We are a different kind of performer (with some exceptions), but it will depends on how abstract you are thinking.

Sable
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Marduke Kurios
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Yakandjak,

Hmmm. I disagree and I agree with you. I agree to hold magicians in higher regard than regular actors. But I also think magicians are actors, just a more specialized breed, if you will.

-Marduke
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Burt Yaroch
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I'll buy that. Smile
Yakworld.
Jeb Sherrill
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Well, as far as holding magicians above actors, I guess it would have to depend on the magician. Smile Smile

Sable
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vovin
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I think magicians are magicians. Like cat's are cat's not dogs. I think they are 2 totally seperate entities even thought they may have many similarities.
Burt Yaroch
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Funny, I was going to make that very same analogy yesterday Vovin (you must be REALLY smart).

If magicians and actors were the same we would all be called either magicains or actors. The different terms exist solely to distinguish the two.
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Tom Cutts
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Magicians are absolutely actors. We are pretending to do something. Even when we have total conviction and total belief ourselves, we are but acting the part. We don't really do what we seem to be doing.

It could be just a quibble over semantics but it would be an expensive one for any who chose to deny the role as actor. Such a person would likely miss the crux of selling a magical effect, acting!

Most magicians only play their role on stage. Clearly they are actors.

It is in vogue now, and agreeably so to me, to allow your audience to keep that sense of you as magician for as long as they are able. Such a person is acting at all times and is relegated to one role, magician.

The "always on" magician MUST, in the creation of his work, know he is an actor; so that he may leave that thought behind in his performance.
Dennis Michael
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The show must go on!

A Magician can be an Actor, but not all Actors can be a Magician.
Dennis Michael
Burt Yaroch
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Applying your logic Tom (and keeping the cards in the dialouge) then a professional gambler, too, would be an actor. Remove the cards and a car salesman becomes an actor.

I think the "profession" of an actor is defined by much more than pretending and not doing what we seem to be.

Unless, of course, we are speaking in the broad generic sense in which case dozens of vocations not usually associated with the entertainment industry could be described as such.

I do like your thoughts however:

Quote:
On 2002-02-21 18:12, Tom Cutts wrote:
...to allow your audience to keep that sense of you as magician for as long as they are able.




Lemme guess...you have a theater background?
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Dennis Michael
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There are professional actors which I wouldn't call actors just like there are magicians I wouldn't call magicians.

And yes, a car saleman is an actor just like lawyers. The better ones make more money.
------------
Actor: One who studied theater and isn't getting paid
Magician: One who studied magic and isn't getting paid.

Professional: One who makes a living from the chosen career

Nothing says they have to be good at it!
Dennis Michael
Tom Cutts
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Quote:
On 2002-02-21 18:39, yakandjak wrote:
a professional gambler, too, would be an actor...a car salesman becomes an actor.

Gambler Smile Are you saying he is not actually gambling? Wouldn't that make him a professional cheat?

One does not have to lie, pretend, or act to sell a car...though...

Den understands where the comparison lies. All Magicians (I rarely invoke the capital M) are actors, not all actors are magicians.
Jim Morton
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Quote:
Are magicians actors? Do you feel these performing arts are synonomous?


Not synonomous, no, but magicians are definitely actors. When you perform a trick, do you "pretend" that something is happening that is not? That pretending is called acting, and the better you are at it, the more likely it is that your audience will respond enthusiastically.

As for David Blaine. If you don't think he's acting, you haven't been watching. you may not care much his style (which is understandable), but he is definitely performing.

Jim
Burt Yaroch
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Quote:
On 2002-02-22 11:35, Tom Cutts wrote:

Gambler Smile Are you saying he is not actually gambling? Wouldn't that make him a professional cheat?


I suppose I had in mind legitimate card counters (vice the cheats who use computers, confederate dealers etc.). Some of these folks are much more actors, in the loose sense of the word, than are magicains. They get into full costume complete with makeup, fake facial hair, changing their dialect and behaviors. But this doesn't make them actors.

Even just regular card folks are "acting" when they're gambling. Isn't a poker face pretending? Isn't bluffing conveying something that isn't true? But gamblers are not actors, unless you apply this term very loosely.

As David Blane is not an actor except in the loosest sense of the term.

Now, performing and pretending also do not equate to acting.

A juggler is performing. He is not an actor.

The 3 year old that lives next door is one heck of a pretender. He is not an actor.

I guess when I asked the original question I was speaking in the professional sense not the colloquial, which I should have made clear. My bad.
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Jim Morton
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Quote:

Now performing and pretending also do not equate to acting.



I guess I disagree here. Yes, performing is not acting; and yes, pretending is not acting. But pretending in the act of performing is a pretty fair definition of acting.

As for juggling, the best jugglers are certainly actors. They draw us in by convincing us that, on this particular night, they are going to try something extremely difficult. I've seen jugglers come out night after night saying, "Well, I haven't really tried this before..." If they are not good actors, we don't believe them and this claim sounds like what it is. If we do believe them, we get excited by the possibilities.

Jim
Saydean
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If you think that actors are not magicians and vise versa I would say you are wrong.
I was a WORKING Actor for 35 years before going into magic and that is what made the transition easy. The best Magicians are also pretty darn good actors ,you have to be to create the character you play on stage.
Some Vegas types who I know all wanted to know how the heck I learned so much so fast...when I told them I had worked as a actor for the last 35 years they all said :"Well that explains it". I find it easy to do magic because acting has taught me the disciplines of performing and how to work the stage and crowd.It also prepared me for the knowledge of what the dynamics of being on stage are all about, not to mention
being able to survive backstage as well, which is also important to performing magic.Props,tricks and illusions are ok but if you cant sell it to the crowd you'll soon be selling it to someone who can. Magicians who have asked me for stage help have all been told the same thing ...Do a theater show..any show ,even if you are the 3rd spear carrier from the left you will learn more in one show than a year practicing in front of a mirror. And you will be the hit of the cast partys with your magic.Plus if your prone to stage fright it will help you that way as well. Magicians are actors but not all actors can do magic,that requires somthing actors dont have a love of the art that is magic.
Saydean Smile
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