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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The April 2004 entrée: Wesley James » » Wesley James on False Shuffles » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

RandyWakeman
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Wesley James on False Shuffles

The role of any art is to capture the emotions of the audience for the reasons you delineate and others I trust you'd agree with as well. That goal is neither mutually exclusive of the demands of technical mastery nor a substitute for it. As a rule, a musician isn't given a pass to play or sing off key because they interpret a song well. An actor isn't allowed lapses of technique because the script is good or the story compelling. Mastery of the finest technique of which a well trained, practiced and rehearsed performer is capable must be the standard demanded for a professional to take "the stage" before an audience, never less.

It has always struck me as the height of arrogance for a performer to stand before an audience and demand their attention with less than adequate mastery of their craft. I am hard pressed to understand how one can create art without mastery of the craft that enables it. I recognize that this argument has raged in other arts as well, notably modern art, but I am unaware of serious argument made for less than adequate craft in the performing arts.

I hasten to add that amateurs are a different matter. Just as the weekend softball player can't be expected to achieve the standards of the professional baseball player, neither are they entitled to call themselves ball players in the same breath as the professional. Likewise, amateur actors, musicians and, in my estimation, magicians. The minimum standard for a performer should be excellence. That is the price one pays for mounting the "stage." To do so with less than adequate training is an act of disrespect for the audience and oneself.

More specific to this thread, while I agree that the audience should not be unduly focused, "burning," ones shuffle or any other technique one employs, they paid their money, they get to watch what they want to watch, including your technique. Certainly a competent performer will direct the audiences attention to other things at critical moments but that is not an excuse for poor technique. Even the best of techniques may benefit from reduced scrutiny but they should be able to withstand full scrutiny. The failure of a technique to support full attention demands greater "misdirection" which is also the responsibility of the performer.

There is simply no excuse for a professional performer executing techniques that will not withstand the scrutiny s/he allows the audience to focus on a technique. In the case of a false shuffle, there are many effects that demand the audience be allowed to focus fully upon the shuffle, eg. Triumph, some Color Changing deck routines or Rollover Aces. I therefore dispute the assertion that a false shuffle can be less than fully deceptive and still be used for all the purposes for which a false shuffle is used in magic.

Wesley James
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