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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » What makes a great performer? (31 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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55Hudson
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Pop - I am not surprised that being too busy is your problem. Unfortunately, too many books are written, and DVDs produced, by people who do not have that problem.

Thanks for your insights. I will be reviewing my routines with your comments in mind.

Hudson
Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Apr 1, 2014, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
Pop, this discussion provoked me to reread your essay "Humor, Theater and Acting" in the Chicago Surprise manuscript. It is rather remarkable to me that you wrote this essay several years BEFORE you adopted the Pop character. It almost reads like a manifesto for creating such a character! Was the change on your mind for quite a while before you made the switch?

John


No, that manuscript was first written in the Eighties, long before I started working on Pop Haydn in 2005. I was talking about the Whit Haydn character that I was using at the time.
landmark
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Quote:
On Mar 31, 2014, Pop Haydn wrote:
Those are excellent. Sharing something interesting is an excellent reason.

Pulling the audience's leg, and giving them a laugh is another.

I'm here to give you a good scare! I'm here to show you something amazing!

All of these are good reasons to be here in front of this group.

If the audience thinks the performer is here to show off, or to impress them, or to win their approval or anything of that sort, he is in a position of weakness--the audience now has score cards 1-10 in their hands and sit back to let the performer jump through his hoops. If he doesn't impress them, they will tear him to pieces. If he does, they applaud, but it is a "I have to admit the guy is good" kind of applause.

It isn't filled with gratitude.

When we set out to scare them, and scare the heck out of them, they will laugh and applaud, "Wow! That was really scary!"

The applause is real, in appreciation for the scare we gave them.

Whenever they believe you accomplished something you set out to do, and gave them something, they will respond with much more joy. Showing off or trying to impress are the worst things you can do.

We need to look for what it is that we want to give the audience, and consider what we want from them in return. Applause? To take your company's business card? To give you money? When we figure these things out and build our show around them, we take out a lot of the guess work for the audience.

Knowing why we are here in this situation with these particular people--that is the reality of the actor/magician's performance.

As actors, even magicians who are "playing themselves" have to consider what they look and sound like to the audience, and what messages they are sending. Any actor walking into a scene on stage has to consider the same things.

We are more like improv actors, with the audience as fellow actors, and ourselves as the lead. We direct and orchestrate the proceedings so that the audience remembers everything the way we want them to--nothing should be left to the audience to make up for themselves.

Sometimes actors and acting teachers fill their teaching with deliberate mystification and esoterics.

We don't need to construct a made up character with a made up backstory and accent and dress. But we need to know who we are, and why we are here in front of this group. Who do we think they are? What are we here to do for them?

That is the start for creating our character.

Really useful.
Quentin
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There is no skill that cannot be learnt.

Some are born with great talent and charisma. The vast majority are not.

The key is to discover what you are good at, what your own gifts are and work to polish them and present them.

Back in the early 90's, JJ, one of the publishers of Opus Magazine wrote something about Alan Shaxon that I thought was a bit cruel at the time but realise that he was correct. He wrote that Alan realised that he did not have the personality to become a star so worked hard at delivering a strong, magical and commercial act.

Al, I believe your gifts are doing what you already do in magic, and at that you are the top of the pyramid. You can drive yourself to distraction with the "grass is greener in the other field" scenario. If that is an area you truly wish to explore, you will need to put in thousands of hours of real world performing.
Tim Friday
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In 'Maximum Entertainment' Ken Weber references three of the most commercially successful performers of our modern time: David Copperfield, David Blaine, and Kreskin.

He makes some interesting points about these performers such as how they are the same persona on stage and off stage. I wish he had more analysis on these performers in the book, especially on Kreskin.
Quentin
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I heard that Blaine could be quite personable offstage.
AaronSterling
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Quote:
On Mar 10, 2014, Al Schneider wrote:
Interesting vs. Interested.
I have a long battle with this. I have presented it at lectures and have had magicins catch me in the hall later to challenge this idea. The point is this. If you are interested in the welfare of the audience the audience will care about you and enjoy your performance. If you are trying to be interesting to your audience, the audience won't care. There is a fine line between these two perspectives Curiously, those magicians interested in the welfare of the audience understand this concept. Those that want to be interesting, the kind that says, "Here's a quarter, now its gone, your'e stupid," don't get it.
Al Schneider

Two of Avner the Eccentric's principles of the Eccentric Arts are:

Be interested, not interesting.
When you are interested, everything eventually becomes interesting.

I agree with this, and I've found it useful in presenting all kinds of things, not just in magic performance. I don't know if Avner the Eccentric is a known name here, but he has some of the best physical timing I've seen in the variety arts, so I've encouraged magician friends to study his work. His complete list of Eccentric Principles is here.

http://www.avnertheeccentric.com/eccentric_principles.php
Jeffrey Korst
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Avner is indeed a wonderful performer! I first saw him in Chicago in the 70's, then just last year here in CA. Thanks so much for posting this link. These principles and other writings on his site are very interesting.

If I didn't already know, principle #6 would tell me Avner is a student of Aikido.
Why, yes. I do need new pictures. Why do you ask?

Jeffrey Korst
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AaronSterling
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Quote:
On Apr 15, 2014, Jeffrey Korst wrote:
Thanks so much for posting this link.

You're welcome. I think he's strong where a lot of magicians I've seen are weak -- even magicians with superb sleight of hand. Everything Avner does is motivated, he gets you on his side immediately, and he knows exactly when to pause and milk audience reaction. There are now several clips of his work on YouTube, and, for me at least, watching him is like attending a master class.
Pop Haydn
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Avner is one of my favorite performers. I first met him in the 1970's at Barter Theater in Kentucky. He has a wonderful routine for the Newspaper Restoration.
Tim Friday
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I will just add the writings of Eugene Burger have been very important to me as a performer. Occasionally I hear people say his books are 'theory'. I don't understand why they say this and I wonder if they have actually read his books.

I find his books to be very practical and applicable to performing. I especially like his teaching on scripting/presenting magic.
Alan Munro
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I especially like Eugene Burger's early works. You can get a sense of how he became an "in demand" performer, in the early years of his career.

Dick Oslunds's book recommendations are right on. Earl Ray Wilcox recommended several of those books, as well.

As for what makes a great performer, here's a thought: “At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
Ray Haining
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A nice quote. Here's to Maya Angelou who died today (May 28) at the age of 86.
Alan Munro
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She will be missed. The strange thing is that I posted her quote before I got the news of her passing.
Ray Haining
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Interesting serendipity. She was a magician with words.
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