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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The April 2004 entrée: Wesley James » » Out of book... » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

JimMaloney
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Wes,
Something that we have discussed before is taking your audience, as you put it, "out of book." Certainly the guys who hang out with you on Saturdays have heard you say this, as well as anyone who has seen your lecture. I thought this might be an interesting topic for discussion here. Would you mind describing for the folks here at the Café what you mean by taking your audience "out of book"?

-Jim
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Wesley James
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Jim,
While I'd be happy to discuss the subject in broad terms, it is rather difficult to convey the concept without a performance example. I'll take a shot at it but I'm not sure how clear the concept will be.

Audiences bring a set of expectations to watching a magician perform. Most of these are born in the work of childrens' performers or the illusionists of an era now passed. Few have had the experience of a personal encounter with high level close-up magic. When they find themselves confronted by that opportunity they draw from the closest experience they can find, usually an Uncle or someone in the neighborhood who did "card tricks." That is a burden we must overcome when we begin to perform, to separate what we, as close-up magicians, do from what Uncle Charlie does. IMO, doing flourishes may set the stage for Uncle Charlie plus juggling skills but not necessarily for sophisticated close-up magic. To create a receptivity for my type of performance the audience needs to be taken "out of book." That term of art, which I use, is actually borrowed from the world of chess. In the chess context it means making a move that would not be expected based upon games that have been played in the past and studied from the many books on chess. As I use the term it means giving the audience no frame of reference for what they are about to experience so they will open themselves to whatever may be offered.

I do this through the use of theatrical devices and controlling the interaction with my spectators. I invest the opening moments of almost every performance in stripping the audience of any notion of what they can expect. At the same time I endeavor to create a spirit of fun but also a clear understanding that they don't know the rules but I do, they must be, therefore, be willing to allow me to lead them. To the extent that my manner and bearing inspire confidence, they allow me to do so. I then have a brief period in which to show them the reward they will receive for their trust. If they are pleased with the reward, they are mine to educate and lead onward to other material. Were I to disappoint, I'd be back to being Uncle Charlie. As a professional one cannot afford to disappoint so one must give the audience far more than they could have imagined. To the degree I was able to succeed I was able to forge a financially successful 25 year career for myself.

I don't suggest that the technique I've used would necessarily be workable for anyone else. I am confident they worked for me. I do, however, believe that one fails to recognize the Uncle Charlie burden at ones peril as a performer. I, therefore, strongly recommend that it be given consideration in developing the opening of ones performance. Thanks for asking, Jim.

Wesley James
whitelephant
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Jerusalem
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Quote:
I do this through the use of theatrical devices and controlling the interaction with my spectators. I invest the opening moments of almost every performance in stripping the audience of any notion of what they can expect. At the same time I endeavor to create a spirit of fun but also a clear understanding that they don't know the rules but I do, they must be, therefore, be willing to allow me to lead them.
Wesley James

Sounds great!
and if you wouldn't mind-could you just offer a little more explicit decription of how you open?
thanks for all your input on the boards so far.
Uncle Phil Smile
drink water...
Wesley James
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Uncle Phil,
As I stated in my earlier post, the opening techniques I use are best transmitted by watching them at work. In my Make Me Care/Selling the Tough Stuff lecture that is precisely what I do. I don't believe I can do justice to communicating how and why my openings work for me. Once you've witnessed them at work, you'd understand. Those who have seen the lecture can say me nay; I don't think they will.

Wesley James
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The April 2004 entrée: Wesley James » » Out of book... » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes)
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