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Bert Coules
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I'm involved with a forthcoming stage play about an illusionist. One scene shows an excerpt from his act and includes a moment where he has to magically appear in dramatic fashion.

The effect I'm after is something like Grabel's circular production cabinet (kindly identified for me by RVH Magic in a different thread) as performed here by Debbie McGee and Paul Daniels:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2xbUsTigK8

This would be ideal - minimal footprint, easy to strike, great impact - but unfortunately I can't guarantee that whoever we cast will be limber enough and there are also costume considerations. I really need something that allows the character to be standing before he appears.

The production will be in a studio theatre with either no raised stage or one only about a foot above the floor level where the front row of seating will be. The rest of the seating (arranged prosc-arch layout) will be raked. The illusion opens the play, so the actor can be in position from the start. The apparatus needs to be portable enough to be moved from the acting area after the scene. Two other actors can play the illusionist's assistants for the effect. Any reasonably straightforward construction can be handled by the production team.

I've looked back through this forum and found several discussions about this sort of effect. The Bryce Screen looked promising but from what I've seen it doesn't come over as terribly convincing, though perhaps I've been unlucky with the videos I've found. The wrap-around-sheet production (I'm sure that's not the right name but I hope you know what I mean) might be a possibility, and I've wondered about a simple three-fold screen (show it fully open, close the flaps, wait, revolve it, reveal) but I'd be concerned about the angles.

I'd be grateful for any other suggestions. Many thanks.
.
jimgerrish
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The three-fold screen production, as described in my PVC Pipe Illusions Book 4, can be more deceptive than you describe: It is brought out folded flat under the arm of an assistant, and then stood up and opened out. It is folded into a triangle, rotated and opened up again - but no one is there. One more time it is folded into a triangle and rotated, and this time when it is opened, the person appears, standing. You don't have to make it of PVC Pipes, of course, but they make it lightweight and easily transportable, as well as inexpensive and easy to put together. The double folding makes it possible to bring the screen up very close to the audience on the second turning, emphasizing that no one is hidden in it or behind it, and yet he appears right under their noses, as it were.
Bert Coules
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Jim, Many thanks for that. For my purposes, the quicker and more direct the production the better: would I be able to start with the screen on stage unfolded and simply perform the last part of your description - close, rotate, reveal?

I should add that I'd already found your plan books advertised online and they were next on my list of things to research, after seeing what was suggested here. I like the idea of simple construction and portability.
Bert Coules
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Jim, is your Book 4 available online? I can't seem to find any ordering details. Thanks.
jimgerrish
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Http://magicnook.com/pvcpipe4.htm - Scroll down to item #1 "Backdrop Illusion Screens", and thanks for asking! In answer to your other question; yes, you could reduce the action to the final three steps of close the screen, rotate the screen, and reveal the actor ... but what's the fun in that?
Bert Coules
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Jim, thanks. Perhaps I'm missing something, but the reduced presentation should still run something like this:

The screen is open and there's nothing in front of it.
The screen is closed up into a triangle and there's obviously nothing inside it.
The screen is rotated (but heaven knows why, it's just something that magicians do).
The screen is unfolded and TA-DA! there's a person.

I agree that the longer presentation introduces more mystery but it also requires siting the screen near another piece of scenery or a curtain (or a trap) and I'd like to avoid that. Also, unless the audience have already twigged the method, the short presentation should still be mysterious - shouldn't it?
.
Bert Coules
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Jim,

Order placed and paid for. Looking forward to receiving the file.
jimgerrish
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OK, your short version can be done. I was thinking of my short version, which, instead of folding the screen into a triangle towards the audience, you fold the edges back behind the screen, creating a suspicion that the person might have been hiding behind the screen. That gives you the reason for turning it around so the screen opens to the front. In my original version, you then open the screen from the front to show nothing inside, faking out those who suspected someone might appear. THEN you close the screen, and either rotate it once more, or just directly reopen it showing that the actor has appeared. Don't be so rushed for time that you neglect playing with the audiences' minds and create a real stunning buzz of "How the heck did he (they) do that!"

Spellbinder just woke up from his afternoon nap and told me he had sent you the plans, so you should have them by now. All customers who purchase e-Books from us can then ask questions and get further assistance on the plans, the construction or the performance, so let either one of us know if you need help by e-mail from the same address that you used to order the e-Book (so we know it's you!). Also, if you make and use the illusion and take photos, we'd be happy to share them with others in the theatre/magic world on our "I Did It Myself" Photo Gallery web page - http://magicnook.com/DidItGallery/DidItMyself.htm
Bert Coules
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Jim, it's not a question of being rushed for time, rather of achieving the maximum impact not for the illusion in and of itself but for the play: in this particular instance, that involves the appearance happening almost as soon as the audience's attention is drawn to the prop. "How was that done?" is, for us, secondary to "Wow! Someone just appeared! What is he going to do?". Which is not to say, of course, that we don't want there to be any mystery to it whatsoever.

The book has now been delivered. Excellent service, thanks.
Bert Coules
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I've seen several mentions here of a prop called a utility cabinet but I've not been able to find any details. What (in general terms) is a utility cabinet? Many thanks.
jimgerrish
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Http://magicnook.com/pvcpipe1.htm and scroll down to item #3.

Two versions are given for this versatile illusion, a hand-held version and a self-contained cabinet version. The Illusionist or an assistant can be made to appear or disappear, or several people can be produced one after the other. Need a backstage changing room? Step into the cabinet! It really is a Utility Cabinet!

"Utility" means it can be used for more than one purpose - appearances, vanishes, transformations, transpositions. It is based on the "Little Stinkhouse" illusion principle of Edmund Spreer (built for magician Fu Manchu - a.k.a. David Bamberg). My version is more versatile and portable, breaking the illusion down to the most basic fundamentals so you can perform it with just a frame and two "doors."
Bert Coules
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Thanks Jim, but I'm only slightly the wiser: can you or anyone point me to an illustration or even a video? Incidentally, I just tried a Google search for Little Stink House and was politely asked, "Do you mean Little Steak House?".
jimgerrish
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If you want the original, it is described in detail with illustrations in "Illusion Builder to Fu-Manchu (David Bamberg)" by Robert E. Olsen. ( https://www.ebay.com/itm/Illusion-Builde......56086661 )


Something similar: The Enchanted Doorway - You might also consider this for your play. http://hamiltonholtinc.stores.yahoo.net/endoor.html
FrankFindley
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You might want to look at these options for stand up appearances:

Flash appearance - magician appears in an open archway in a puff of smoke and flash. It is among the simplest of illusions to build but requires control of lighting and set for maximum effect. Example performance: https://youtu.be/xqEgOSz04LI

Modern cabinet - Think the Lion, the Witch and wardrobe. Magician appears in box shown empty with front door open. There are versions using just a curtain hanging from a hoop which is close to a flash appearance (often called shower appearance). I used a version of this for several years with great success. Here are a couple examples: https://youtu.be/dWA7Llo6Ndc https://youtu.be/scR_5AcHDQM

Mummy cabinet - there is a class of appearances similar to the modern cabinet but allows complete see through of the box. Here is an example of the most streamlined version which may be perfect for your needs (very simple build but very effective): https://youtu.be/JP2bi5voKrg Here is a more classic version: https://youtu.be/8szm40e4XUk. Dan Harlan has an updated version which is awesome but it is a more compicated build: http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/8311

Shadow (or light) box- This is where the performer appears in a translucent, lit box. It looks like he slowly materializes as his shadow grows. There are three major methods of this effect which share simularities with the above. Again Dan Harlan has some really nice builds, one which would fit the described needs nicely: http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/7472

Book of life- this is where a giant book on stage is shown empty but magician can appear within. Very easy to add theme. Again there are several variations of them. Here is an example: https://youtu.be/wCaYAmgKV-E

Hope that gives you more food for thought.
Bert Coules
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Many thanks, Jim and FrankFindley for those links. I'll take a look at all of them and report back.

The most dramatic reveal I've found is here, at 1 min 22 secs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iquCb3ie68

But unfortunately the lead up to it isn't exactly as impressive. Watch from 1 min 15 secs.

Since I'm after impact first and mystery second, it's possible that for my purposes I could simply dispense with turning the screen.
FrankFindley
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On Jun 6, 2018, Bert Coules wrote:
The most dramatic reveal I've found is here, at 1 min 22 secs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iquCb3ie68

But unfortunately the lead up to it isn't exactly as impressive. Watch from 1 min 15 secs.

Since I'm after impact first and mystery second, it's possible that for my purposes I could simply dispense with turning the screen.


That is the typical Bryce screen approach. You really need a turn for it to have any magical impact. But it doesn't have to be a 360, a 180 would work.

To be honest, it sounds like the most simple approach would work best for you. Stage curtain opens revealing cabinet center stage with an open front. It is obviously empty. A curtain slowly rises (or drops) on its own covering the front. A flash goes off and the curtain drops to the floor. There stands the magician.
Bert Coules
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Thanks for that, and I agree that the simplest approach will be the best. I disagree though about the non-rotated Bryce screen. To my mind, the rotation not only makes the gimmick screamingly obvious, it also completely gives away what's going to happen. But if the audience sees a simple screen (which up to that point has had no particular emphasis placed on it) suddenly approached and folded shut, only to *immediately* open revealing a person - I think the impact of that would qualify as not only dramatic but also magical.

This is especially true if the Bryce gimmick can be made as inconspicuous as possible, either by colouring or general design.
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FrankFindley
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Quote:
On Jun 6, 2018, Bert Coules wrote:
But if the audience sees a simple screen (which up to that point has had no particular emphasis placed on it) suddenly approached and folded shut, only to *immediately* open revealing a person - I think the impact of that would qualify as not only dramatic but also magical.

This is especially true if the Bryce gimmick can be made as inconspicuous as possible, either by colouring or general design.
.


Worth a try. How high is the raked seating at the back? Bryce screen is not friendly to having audience looking down at it.
Bert Coules
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Not high: it's a small studio space. I think this solution will be fine. And the action of the scene will move swiftly straight on after the production, which should prevent too much audience speculation about what just happened and how. In any case, it's a play, not a magic show, though admitedly a play with odd moments of magic show in it.

It might well be that I'll be back some time with more questions, but for now, many thanks to you and everyone who chipped in with thoughts and advice. Much appreciated.
professortango
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What's the show? I've worked numerous appearances into theatre, it just depends on the show and the dramatic need of the effect. A tilt-down box is a quick and easy way to have an actor turn the empty box upright, turn away and continue blocking when the magic character pops up out of the same box. Obviously, this would require loading the actor during while the curtain is closed or another set piece obscures the box. I've also used a freestanding doorway on stage. The actor walks through the doorway, closes the door, then opens it to reveal the magician.

If you want something truly surprising, you're going to need to look at your setting first. It should appear like the magic set piece is just a part of whatever is normally onstage rather than something wheeled in for an appearance.
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