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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The September 2003 entrée: Whit Haydn » » Magic and Emotion » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Whit Haydn
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Many writers on magic, especially in the last few years have talked about the importance of putting emotion in our magic. What does this mean? How should we go about it?
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I think Derren Brown gives the perfect example of this in "Absolute Magic" with Terry Lunceford's Floating Ring Routine. In Derren's explanation he invokes a memory within the spectator (I guess I should say "participant" since she is participating). The floating ring is used as a metaphor for what she is experiencing internally. The magician should be reacting with the same amazement as everyone else. Every performance should be performed as if it were the first time you, as the magician, has seen it. It is that connection which I believe is at the heart of magic and "emotion." As a magician we must invoke emotion within the participant combined with a visual metaphor. Easier said than done. I might also add that we don't need to do this all the time with every piece of magic. Whit is a perfect example of a magician that uses humor along with moments of pure magic.

I would give examples from "The Chicago Surprise" but I haven't opened it yet. I will read that after "Street Magic." For those interested, please go to The School for Scoundrels web page and read Whit's excerpts from "Chicago Surprise." My friend Maurice Newman who is an attorney says it is the best writing he has seen in magic. As an attorney he writes for a living.

Thanks Whit,

Charles Spector

Pete Biro
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Emotion is when I cry after a trick fails... Smile
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
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Well... I don't beleive the cliche that "people like to be fooled" nor do I gravitate toward the statement that "people just want to be entertained" - I am far more interested in the theories around wonder and astonishment put forth by Paul Harris, Eugene Burger and others.

Is astonishment and wonder an emotion?

I beleive that most magicians walk all over the truly beautiful moments in magic - I certainly do - and that is what sucks the "emotion" out of magic. Getting a laugh is so much less impressive to me than allowing someone to experience freedom of mind for a long moment.

Someday I hope to be able to practice what I preach... =)
Jonathan Townsend
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Given our litigous state of affairs... probably a good idea to keep from triggering strong emotions in audiences.

Something about making stories cloying or sacharine seems extra to good magic. It moves a performance from pleasant diversion to "prozac moment"

do we really want to play "patty hearst" with a selected card locked in the cardcase until it participates?

" and then the bad magician told us that if we didn't (fill in sorry act here) he would make the bunny rabbit dissapear and never come back -sob- "
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Whit Haydn
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That's very funny, Jonathon. I agree with you.

I think that too often when magic writers talk about putting emotion into magic, it is through story. They want to tell you about someone in history who had an emotion once, or they want to make the audience have an emotion of some sort.

I think that the magician himself should be having emotions. That is what is interesting to watch. A magician in trouble and sweating, frustrated, mad, worried, relieved, sly, transparently deceptive, triumphant, etc.

When the magician is involved in the presentation, and hitting many different emotional notes in his relationship with his volunteers and with the audience, he is interesting and fun to watch, and the magic is imbued with importance.
Lee Darrow
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Gee, externalization versus internalization. Which is more important?

The externalization of an emotional moment (evoking a memory of an emotion and linking the spectator to re-experience it through story and magic), or internalization - using the magician's own emotionality and emotional expression to evoke empathic responses in an audience?

Frankly, this is situational as all get-out.

Some story related magic can be extremely entertaining, while watching a magician "up against it" and working like the blazes (even if only acting it), is also demonstrably entertaining when done by a competent performer.

I think the real questions to each magician is - which approach works best for YOu AND YOUR AUDIENCES? And can you use only one at a time?

Some people find Robin williams extremely funny - wild physical humor, voices, gross physical actions and the like. Others find Shelly Berman or Bob Newhart funny because of the humor in their stories and skits that hooks them.

Shouldn't we better be looking to see which of these two elements we should be putting into our shows is the more effective - more ENTERTAINING to our audiences?

And to confuse the issue even further, is it possible to mix the two approaches in a single performance?

I believe it is. That belief has taken me all across the USA, Canada, the Caribbean and parts of Europe, working for a wide range of customers (W. Clement Stone to Dennis Rodman's New year's party as an example of the range of performances I have had to adapt to).

Shouldn't we be looking more into how to enhance the experience of the magic we perform more than asking "what is the One True Way" to perform?

Shouldn't we be asking whether we should use one or the other technique (internalization/externalization) to improve the intended impact of the magic we are trying to accomplish, instead?

Whether we strive for the belly laugh, the sudden, gusty gasp or the total silence of the truly boggled, maybe we should look at these techniques in the same way we select the sleights and other methods we use to perform the magic portion of the trick to enhance the emotional impact of that same trick?

Just some more annoying questions.

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
Whit Haydn
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I can't find anything to disagree with in your statement. I never wanted to claim there was only one way to look at the problem. There are many different approaches to magic, and sometimes the differences are only a matter of emphasis. I tend to emphasize my own approach to magic, not because it is the one true way, but because it is the way I believe and know best... ;-)

Thanks for all your contributions this week.
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