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Inner circle
old things in new ways - new things in old ways
9024 Posts

Profile of funsway
Just a single thought intended to prompt others with a variety of table hopping experience.

There seems to be a change in restaurant venue as to the number of customers preoccupied with an electronic device.
Since a magic effect works best with focused attention and audience engagement, we might look at how your presentation is framed. Literally.

Studies have shown that people who spend a lot of time looking at a small screen have a different perception bias when viewing a larger scene.
They may even find the larger view very distracting and find ways to avoid any "peripheral sensory input."

So, a possible solution is to use physical frames in your presentation that resemble the tiny screen they are used to.
There need be no direct reference, just a change of props to something they are more comfortable with.


if you use a tray or small table, add a rim and contrasting paint to make it look like an iPad or the restaurant menu board.

if you use playing cards, carry them in a case that looks like a cellphone jacket.

have a large picture frame on a stand to set on the edge of the table. "This performance is just for you." Exclusivity? Focused attention? Heightened interest?
Perform your moves entirely within that "screen." Experiments have shown that some spectators will be blind to moves outside of this screen.
This frame could support steals and ditches.

Have a menu of your possible effects listed on your iPad. Let them decide what they wish to see. Hand it to the person engrossed in a video game.
"Your eyesight may be better and you can read the options to the others."

Perhaps some of you are already using such "framing" ideas. I'd like to hear about them.

side note. Being disabled I have used a walker with tray on top to get from table to table and not have to mess up the customer's area.
I also can't stand on a hard floor very long without ti, and I can carry a lot of props.
This is a different kind of framing, and I am not suggesting anyone fake a disability just to gain this advantage, but ...
people do move out of the way and seem to give my actions more privacy. Since I can carry dozens of possible effects I can adapt to setting easily.
If I do this again I am considering adding "vertical wings" to give a more physical framing and reduced visual perspective.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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Mr. Woolery
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Inner circle
Fairbanks, AK
2007 Posts

Profile of Mr. Woolery
I am reminded of Bill Tarr’s NYSINYD Notebook. He had a number of ideas in there that were just things he’d thought of and not tried. Relevant here is the miniature theater. It was scaled much like a puppet theater. The idea was for performance of manipulation magic, this would be a stage for just the hands.

I don’t know that anyone has ever done anything with that idea, but it seemed amusing to me.

There is something odd about the little screens. People in general, not just those who grew up always having them, seem to find it easier to put their attention on a performance on the screen than to tear their eyes away to watch the same performance live. How often do we see folks taking videos with their phones when they could participate in a situation instead of merely observe?

I like the direction of your thoughts, Ken. Not sure it would be worth carrying the extra props, though.

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