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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » All tied up! » » Only ever one escape (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EscapeMaster
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I am a firm believer that one should only ever perform one escape in a performance.

Many people are aware of the danger of repetition in escapes and such a problem can rear its ugly head sooner than one might think.

Many are also aware of the potential hazards of mixing other art forms (such as magic) with escapes.

So, what to do?

The problem of repetition needs clarification. While an audience may feign interest in seeing a whole selection of escapes, one, as a performer, would be well advised to steer clear from this path. The interest springs from the fact that escapes are a novelty and it would be wise not to exhaust this interest in the spectator.

Moreover, as many before have argued, if you are a convincing character your audience will believe, after one sound demonstration, that you are capable of escaping anything. Even if you are incomptent, they will often attribute you such an ability. Any further escapes will only bore unless you adhere to the undesirable trend of making your escapes more and more dangerous.

Escapes are, by nature, repetitious. They all consist in being restrained and then escaping. While the variety of restraints may cause superficial interest it is safe to say that after one meaty demonstration the audience normally will have had a sufficient fill.

But just as a magical illusion may be preceded with a demonstration on a smaller scale (to strengthen the final piece), so with my suggestion that one should only every perform one 'escape' this escape may really be a sequence of demonstrations culminating in one final display.

So, perhaps an example might help me clarify. I think it would be rediculous, in the same performance, to escape at one point from a mailbag and then later from a packing crate.

I think it would be ludicrous to escape from a packing crate and then from a steel drum.

However, a logical sequence might be to demonstrate how you pick open a pair of handcuffs with a bobby pin and how it is possible to pick open padlocks on a chain restraining your arms as a prelude to escaping from being handcuffed inside a box when the handcuffs are sealed and the external lock of the container is inaccessible.

The opening only serves to confound the final mystery and it is obvious how such a sequence could be highly successful (although not without reservation). I hope you can see that after performing such a series there is really nowhere to go for the rest of the performance. There is no escape you could do which would top that one just passed and there would be no point in doing anything lesser.

So this is why you should never perform more than one escape in a show.

This is not a problem for most performances when you are required to present only 10-12 minutes. One sequence will easily fill this time. But as soon as you are heading for half an hour you can no longer rely on escapes.

Houdini got famous on a half hour act which, as you know, contained magic, normally the needle trick which preceded the milk can when that was his feature.

The use of fakir tricks such as this is greatly preferable to illusion or sleight of hand for obvious reasons (which is to say, tricks which are perceived as such by the audience). When Houdini did the needles it was presented as a genuine feat and was verified at every step of the way by audience members.

Tricks similar to this are by far the most successful for the escapist. Other items might include a good staging of the pulse stopping trick or a suitable display of juggling.

What is crucial in the escape line is that no two comparable displays are given. This does one no favours and obeying this simple maxim can greatly enhance your perfromances. A small amount of thought can have a great effect.
KingStardog
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Those are interesting and thought provoking points being made. This would/should be obvious in that each type of escape be completly different.

I actualy am going to start scripting a new show soon and have thought about dumping any magic type effects completely. I will let you know how it plays, as I'm going to put it in front of a few unpaid audiences first and see how it goes.
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
SANTINI
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Hi,
I address the issue of repetition in escapes and the proper structuring of routines to avoid this in my new book "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Entertaining With Escapes (but no one would tell you!)".

I disagree with you that a performer should only do single escapes as an entire performance. There are piles of people calling themselves escape artists and only doing "one shot" shows. I think this may be one of the reasons booking agents and the paying public may have a somewhat negative perception of escapologists as performers because so very many seem to appear and just demonstrate one single routine. I refer to these people in my book as the "escape demonstrators" as opposed to the "escape entertainers" .

You may want to get this book because I detail and explain how one can indeed do a full show of escapes and not lose the audience.

Regards, Steve Santini
KingStardog
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I havn't got the book yet Steve, hence the "scripting a new show soon" Very much looking foward to its release.

Mike
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
Kondini
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Will not go as fully into this as I would like right now as I am on the road. Yes I agree %100 with Steve but I will state at this time I never mix and mingle magic with the escapology but I do mix Fakir stunts with escapology. Get back to you.
SANTINI
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Hi,
I do think it is o.k. to mix and match some routines as long as the ones being mixed with escapology have some reason to be mixed in the first place and also appear fluid and in some way linked.

In Kondini's case, Fakir stunts do work with some forms of escapology because they can both be of a physical nature and are thus related.

One branch of magic I have successfully mixed with escapology is mentalism. But ONLY where the mentalism effect or addition can be used under the premise of assisting in an actual escape.

I still think that if one has the showmanship and imagination there is no problem in presenting a full program of escapology that will go over with an audience. It is not easy and many choose not to try or stick with it but it can indeed be done if a person is a good enough performer and entertainer.

Regards, Steve Santini
AJP807
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I agree with Steve, 100%. I have been a fan of Magic probably all my life. Even before I studied Escapology I was a big fan of Magicians like David Copperfield, Lance Burton, Bret Daniels, Franz Harary, Jeff McBride, The Pendragons, all top illusionists who have successfully incorporated big budget escapes into their shows. I know that many "purist escape artists" look down their noses at these gentlemen but you can't deny that they have done alot to promote the art of escape to mainstream society. I have always enjoyed their performances and have always been entertained by their escapes. On a personal note I have always closed my larger magic shows with some escape, usually a SJ escape, often preceded by a Kellar rope tie, and judging from the audiences reaction to both effects, I really see no problem combining escapes with magic. People have been telling me this for years that the audience will not "buy the escapes" because they will assume that it's just another magic trick. Now I might be forced to agree with that regarding hidden escapes, but those done out in the open like the SJ escape where the audience actually sees the struggle going on. Well, all I can say is I've even had 3 year olds sitting there watching in total silence, (the same ones that couldn't sit still during my magic coloring book routine.) I don't claim to be any kind of authority on the subject. I can only relate things that I've enjoyed watching and what seems to work for me personally.
Regarding an "All escape show" I think that this can work too. Last September, I went to Winona, Minnesota
to see some friends of mine perform at the Victorian Fair. The theme of the fair was "Escape to the Fair" so they hired, not one but two escape acts. Mark and Sheila Cannon were performing an ALL ESCAPE show, back to back with Tom Carrier of Escape Masters who was also doing an ALL ESCAPE show. Initially I thought this was a big mistake, especially back to back on the same stage.
But I thoroughly enjoyed both performances as did the audience. Mark and I had discussed the pitfalls of doing an all escape show at the Indy convention last year, so I know his feelings on the subject, but this is what the fair organizers wanted, and it seemed just fine.
I think bottom line is whatever you are presenting to an audience has to be entertaining. I, personally, dislike watching baseball. But I love almost all movies about baseball I have ever seen. The same goes for boxing, and most other sports. The difference is that the sporting event is presenting the sport itself, where the movie is only concerned with entertainment. I think all escape shows can defintely work, AND magic/escape shows can also work, and for the exact same reason that single escape acts can fail.
IT HAS TO BE ENTERTAINING!!! I think if in our acts we concentrate more on the entertainment value of the effects we are doing, and less on the actual effects, then you can make just about anything work. Just my two cents.
Best regards, Tony Parisi
Scott Xavier
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I love Steves new book! It is a must for you, especially if your having these issues.

I am a mentalist, because I believe it is the most believable form of magic and for an audience to suspend disbelief, it has to be believeable. BUT, Steve and X-Treem have shown me that escapes can entertain and infact I perform a Straight jacket escape in my show, and a climactic finnisher too.
James Peters
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<being rant>

I think that doing one escape per show would make for a very short show.

At the end of the day, if you're a magician doing an escape, that's fine. When you're an escape artist, and only an escape artist, you can't fill more than a 10-20 minute slot with one escape. Your audience would fall asleep on you if you tried.

The corporate bookings I take are generally 3-4 slots, each lasting 10-20 mintutes. During this time I probably perform 6 escape sets.

Some of the people want to know where I'm performing next, so they can come and see "the same old stuff" again and again and again.

Some of the people who assist me are doing so because they are completely fascinated ... and want to see the "same old stuff" time and again!

So, I think repetition is okay as long as you can pull it off ... and that's a personality thing. Would you say to a magician, "only do one trick?"

<end of rant> Smile

James.
CARNEGIE
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I have to disagree with the idea of 'one' escape per show limit. If you consider that a card magician can present card routine after card routine, locating, finding, locating finding, etc and is able to entertain an audience, then it stands to reason that the same could be done with escapes. Granted, not everyone is a Ricky Jay and could pull off a whole evening of just cards. And naturally, not everyone is able to present a full evening of escapes.

I think different escapes can be perceived differently in the eyes of the audience depending upon thier presentation. For example, a straightjacket escape could demonstrate stregnth, 100% physical exhertion, obvisiously very demanding. A handcuff escape could be presented as a challenge. Then you have some effect that you could openly pick a lock demonstrating skill. Still there are other effects like penetrations, or in the case of a subtrunk, transpositions.

I think variety is the key. A show of all 'danger escapes' would soon become boring, as would any effect presented in the same manner.
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