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

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Will Gordon
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Someone once told me a magician is an actor pretending to be a magician. Does that make sense?
Jonathan Townsend
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Made sense to Robert-Houdin when he wrote it long ago.

Still makes sense now... but kind of presumes the performer already knows (from DOING) something about acting onstage.
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bishthemagish
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I think we talked about this and that it is a MISSQUOTE OF Robert-Houdin's.

The full quote thanks to Bill Palmer is, "A conjuror is not a juggler; he is an actor playing the part of a magician; an artist whose fingers have more need to move with deftness than with speed."

I think he was saying to the magic world magicians should slow down. Are magicians actors? Some are some are not. Are Magicians artists? Some are some are not.

Just some thoughts.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Unfortunately the term "juggler" has a different meaning today, so that analysis is flawed.
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bishthemagish
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Please tell me what Juggler of yesterday and juggler of today and why it would flaw a quote that is often missquoted about Robert-Houdin.
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Jonathan Townsend
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The clever prankster of yesterday, showing off almost preternatural skills (many of them faked) was, as best I read, the juggler. This covered all sorts of street shown amusements. Juggling comes down to us via Rome where it was once respected on par with music.

Try reading between the lines on a fairly complete definition list offered online. Here is one: http://www.answers.com/topic/juggling

Notice how deception and trickery are carried over from the older definitions? To juggle the books, to acquire something by legerdemain (to pickpocket etc)... it's all there.

The distinction between the juggler and the Magician is the use of "trickery" by the juggler and "dark arts" by the Magician.

Robert-Houdin brings us up short in our desire to seem clever by asking us to offer instead a portrayal of one who uses "dark arts" instead of trickery.

In this portrayal we offer simulations of what would otherwise get us in trouble with the rest of our society which frowns upon the "dark arts".

Or so says the imp on my desk.
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bishthemagish
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Thanks very much for posting this Jonathan Townsend it has opend the door to new thinking.

Thanks again.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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Jonathan Townsend
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I shall pass on your compliments to the imp lest it claim my name or accuse me of pride or vanity.
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hypnotize
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I think every magician is an actor. it is not as difficult as a Broadway show, but you do need good acting skills to deliver the effect well. If you can deliver strong emotions the crowd will love you.
DanielGreenWolf
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If the show is good, it SHOULD be as difficult as performing in a Broadway show. If not, you're just boring us. ;-)

We should strive, as performers, to make our work the best it can be. A great play can move an audience to laughter and tears in the same two or three hours. We should be able to do that as magicians and not be afraid of it.

We are Actors. We are on a stage performing scripted (HOPEFULLY) pieces with emotion and meaning. I'm sure I'm giving some magicians too much credit, but that is what we SHOULD be doing. THAT is theatre and THAT is magic.

Just my two cents, I feel rather strongly about this.
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Daniel GreenWolf
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JackScratch
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What's next. Are we going to ask if magicians are stoytellers? Maybe a thread asking if magicians are writers. How bout one where we analyse if magicians are human beings or not. I still say this is an over simplification of a very serious subject. Magicians are magicians and all the things that being a magician entails. To call a magician an actor is to use the terms "actor" and "magician" incorrectly, but certainly there are very important similarities. And of course, recognising those similarities is important. That doesn't mean we need to waste any time at all redefining words.
Al Angello
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In the dark ages a magician was thought to be in league with the devil, one who practiced witchcraft and had the power to spin straw into gold, or cast an evil spell like turning a man into a frog, so calling yourself a magician was punishable by DEATH, so magicians back then called themselves jugglers (roughly defined as one who has hand skills) to keep from being put to death.
JUGGLER
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magicfish
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[quote]On 2002-02-20 18:25, Burt Yaroch wrote:
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?
[/quote
.............David Blaine IS an actor. ....So much for that thread.
Son of a Beat
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Magicians won't be actors as long as they keep playing the part of the magician, the part of the omniscient powerfull caracter. Magicians are performers playing a larger themself, improving the real, making it seem more lightweighted. Magicians will start doing theatre when they will accept to cast better actors then themself to play the part needed for the magical play. And the magicians are most of the time writing those plays for themselves.

All the rest is lack of imagination from the part of the writer, finding it to hard to write something that goes beyond its capabilities.

We must write with the freedom and the modesty to accept the artistic outcome as out of reach.

S.O.A.B.
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