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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Specializing. in Different Areas (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Writer Of The Near Future
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OK, I just need some opinions on specializing in different areas of magic. Like, only doing card tricks, coin tricks, ect. What's your opinions on it? Is it a good thing to do, or should all magicians do all kinds of magic?
"This guy right here....HE'S FRICKIN AWESOME!!!" - Lliam
cirrus
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My opinion?
Learn basic sleights so you can manipulate all small stuff (make stuff vanish appear, control cards, do a decent cups and balls routine), then create a character, and from then on your character will dictate what you can and can't do.
RJE2
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My opinion is that you do the magic that you enjoy. Personally, I don't do close up magic anymore and I find card tricks particularly unappealing.
funsway
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I feel that pursuing only one type of magic is limiting the impact magci can have on you. Not to say you have to perform other effects, but a continuous emorsion in all forms of th art will fuel your creativity.

Some types of magic do not play well in certain venues and audiences. So, the answer depend on where you plan to go with your magic -- who do you see as an audience, how much time can you spend practicing, etc.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2012-07-30 19:31, Writer Of The Near Future wrote:
OK, I just need some opinions on specializing in different areas of magic. Like, only doing card tricks, coin tricks, ect. What's your opinions on it? Is it a good thing to do, or should all magicians do all kinds of magic?


You lost me at the "should". As far as your education goes (that means doing not just reading) IMHO it can't hurt to learn as much as you can from every branch of magic that you can. A dove steal may come in handy in a card trick. A Square Circle prop might be just the thing you need to make your cups and balls routine work. Perhaps a card sleight will be the answer to your mind reading routine. Why limit yourself?

When it comes to your shows - do you want a theme act? What's the theme? What props would serve your theme? Again it seems in your own interests to have options.
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Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On 2012-07-30 19:47, cirrus wrote:
My opinion?
Learn basic sleights so you can manipulate all small stuff (make stuff vanish appear, control cards, do a decent cups and balls routine), then create a character, and from then on your character will dictate what you can and can't do.


I don't see why the character should dictate what you can and can't do--the character is your creation, you can adjust him/her to do anythihng you want. I hear this a lot, and I have never understood why people feel that the magical character needs to be limiting. You create a theme and a character that can do whatever magic appeals to you. Don't let your character choose your magic. Let your favorite magic dictate your character.

Theme and character are supposed to serve the magic, not the other way around.
Brad Burt
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It's also possible to specialize if that's what you want to do. Martin Nash, The Charming Cheatt, may have had a lot of 'gambling' themed card magic, but let me tell you...his 'magic' just killed.

I started out by reading the 40 or so books on magic in my local library when I was a kid. There's a lot to be said for learning broadly over a subject EVEN if you decide to specialize later on.

Best,
Brad Burt
Pop Haydn
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It is very important to structure your magic and character and to justify everything. Sometimes, though, magicians fail to see the many great ways open to them to justify doing whatever appeals to them.

Too many people let their character freeze into something commonplace and expected. Real gamblers like Erdnase, Wyatt Earp, Soapy Smith and Bat Masterson all did card tricks. I never understand why people say, "A gambler would never do that."

In the same way, a Merlin character might well use a teleportation device. Kim Silverman does a Merlin character, and has a T-Device that is designed to look like a magical device from the Middle Ages.

I started out as a western gambler, a shell game, confidence man. I quickly found that limiting, so I enlarged the character. Alexander Pantages was a con man gambler who became a multimillionaire in show business and founded the Pantages theater chain. I decided to enlarge the character's history so that Pop became a vaudevillian and stage magician as well as a gambler.

Later, when I wanted to do the T-Device, I enlarged the character again, making him a Tesla-like madman inventor as well. Later I made him a Medicine Show performer so I could do different pitches--something I have always been interested in.

The point is, that you get to write and re-write your character. Putting in as much of your own loves and idiosyncratic interests is what gives the character depth and reality.

It is a mistake to let your character make your performance choices for you. You rework the character and find a way to justify doing whatever it is that appeals to you. The character is only there to help the magic. He is servant to the trick. Don't allow your character to become a cliché by limiting what you do. Most of what is in print in magic books on character is just flat wrong.
funsway
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Great advice Whit -- also for "real" life. How many people limit their future options by the false persona they offer at work, church, family gatherings, etc.?

Now, if I were just the person that my Mom told everyone I was ...
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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cirrus
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So Mr. Haydn, If you want your character to fly on a broom, you just have to rewrite your backstory a bit? (that is what you are saying).
Pop Haydn
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Of course! Easy!

"Folks, you may not believe me, but I happen to possess a very amazing object that once belonged to a notorious witch from Salem, Massachusetts. Hanged in the 1600's for witchcraft, her few meager possessions were sold at auction, including this old broom which looks as if it has lost way too many bristles to be useful for its obvious purpose. This came into my possession quite by accident some years ago, and I have discovered that it has a purpose much different than one would suspect. Let me demonstrate..."

The fun and entertainment value comes more from finding a way to do the unexpected and that which doesn't seem to fit.

I think Pop on a broom would be hysterical. If I had a method I would do it in a heartbeat.

http://pinterest.com/pin/39336196715918394/

What fun is a character who is exactly what you would expect him to be?

Think of a 1960's spy character. Would a bald head and a stutter give him advantages in his career? Would you want to create something new, or just put another face on James Bond?

Finding a way for your character to do the unexpected is the real secret to writing well.

I was asked in a pm if Pop could do mentalism. I do mentalism a lot. I do the Shakespeare Book Test, my own version of Mental Epic, and the Princess A-Hoy routine on a regular basis. Pop is an entertainer, a vaudevillian magician, and a con man. His friend in the Gold Rush in Skagway, Alaska, Claude Conlin, became a famous psychic in Vaudeville, and made over 20 million dollars in his career as "Alexander, the Man who Knows."

Pop puts on a turban, and does demonstrations of psychic power and spiritualism. I do my own version of the Kellar Rope Tie, and Losander's floating table, and other psychic stuff with a comedic edge.

http://pinterest.com/pin/39336196716143138/

Pop can do anything I want him to do. I just have to rewrite his backstory a bit.
BarryFernelius
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Some would say that Pop is a certifiable genius. I concur!
"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time."

-Leonard Bernstein
Pop Haydn
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Certifiable, for sure.
cirrus
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If my wizard would start doing gambling tricks (because in his travels he picked up a thing or two) he would fall out of his role (and I just did the same thing as you. Giving him a background that would support that kind of trick. But nobody can think of a wizard doing gambling tricks, because it isn't what this character is supposed to do.

There is a difference between adapting a role, and making it stereotypical. My wizard isn't stereotypical, although he has a pointy hat and a walking stick (somewhere he has a wand too). My wizard is what he is, a seeker of knowledge. I constructed a small play, where a spectator can play within easily without much stage-directions of my part.

My wizard starts by entering where he has to enter (a party, a church, a bar,...) and he sits himself down. He takes out his newspaper, sees an advert to try a new drink and pours out the drink into a small bowl.

Is this stereotypical? Absolutely not. I haven't seen a wizard doing that with a newspaper, although he might, because it lies within his power to do so. I don't construct a logical story, I construct a whole reason to do so, not just because I can.
Pop Haydn
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Why would doing gambling tricks make him fall out of his role? It might be surprising and fun. If you have no interest in gambling tricks, that is one thing. Look at Schmendrick the Wizard in the film Last Unicorn. He is a merlin type wizard. Very surprising and unique.

Isn't it odd that he would enter a room of strangers and open a newspaper? Isn't that rude?

That is not a criticism. I think it is great. I think it is a character-building moment.

I don't make up things for Pop to do "just because I can," either. I manipulate the character to enable me to do whatever magic I want to do. Each time I manage to do that, my character grows and deepens. It is the surprising and the thoughtprovoking that makes a story or a play interesting.

As long as you don't feel yourself being limited by your character you are fine. But don't use the character as an excuse not to do your favorite magic. Magic comes first. The character is just dressing.
cirrus
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The first thing he does normally is order a drink and see he has no money, produce a coin in a way never seen before in magic.
Pop Haydn
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This is a trick for the bartender?
cirrus
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No, for everybody, he takes the drink to his place (where all his stuff are) and he takes out the stuff he needs to produce the coin, and he produces the coin.

why he wouldn't do gambling tricks? Because he is against cheating. I can do the gypsy curse though, me being the one who was cheated out of his money, and then hexing the cards, and taking the cards afterwards, when the man comes beg for mercy, because he can't make any money anymore.
Pop Haydn
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Is his being against cheating essential to his character? I mean, it seems that could be easily changed if you wanted to do a gambling trick. Gambling tricks can also be an expose that is intended to help people keep from being taken. The only valid reason not to do a gambling trick, in my opinion, is that gambling tricks don't appeal to you. Your character can easily be manipulated to justify anything you want.

BTW, how did your character get into the 21st Century, and why is he performing for the people in the bar? What reason does he have to show off his powers? Is he being paid to perform? Is he aware what time period he is in? Does he know what is going on around him--politics, society, history, life-styles, etc.? Does he like it here? Is he stuck here or can he go back and forth in time? Why does he dress in the old manner still? Does he have any companions or friends or lovers in this time period?
cirrus
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These are great questions, Mr. Haydn, but I will answer them, once I have fleshed out my character a little bit more. I don't like direct displays of skill with the only reason to do a lecture, they must have a certain purpose other then showing off.
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