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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Reconnecting with Magic, Getting Over Fear (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

ryanshaw9572
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My desire to get out into the world and perform, to really learn from experience, peaked just as COVID hit, and my opportunities to go out and perform were drastically diminished. I prepared a virtual show, but I never performed it except for a friend as I was testing it out. I didn’t really like the format. As the pandemic rolled on, my interest in mentalism faded away. Now that things are opened up again, I am starting to have the desire to perform again. However, after being away from mentalism for so long, I am having a difficult time feeling enthusiastic about it. It all seems to have lost the spark that it had when I was deep into it. Looking at the routines I once strove to perform with fresh eyes, I wonder if the only one I was fooling was myself, and I am seriously questioning whether rebuilding what I’ve lost over COVID is something worth doing. How can I feel excited about mentalism again? How can I get the motivation to restart? I’m thinking it might help if I go watch a live show myself. Any other ideas? The other thing is, this whole idea that I’ve lost interest in mentalism may just be my excuse for not getting out and performing because I’m afraid to do that, and I’m running from my fears. So as a side question, how do I get over my fear of performing for others? I appreciate you taking the time to read this. I understand that my questions are a bit strange this time, but I felt like making a post here would be a good first step to reconnecting with the community. Please let me know what you think!
ryanshaw9572
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For some additional context, I am a graduating senior at Boston University, getting a dual degree in Music Performance and Chinese Language and Literature. I will be leaving for China in a couple months to go to the Tianjin Juilliard School for a master’s in Orchestral Studies. When the pandemic hit and I spent less time on magic, I focused my energy on understanding why I want to perform music and why I want to continue studying Chinese and literature. The answer for both is that I want to be connecting and communicating with others. And for a while I started to say that all the things I was interested in— music, magic, and Chinese, are all bonded by that one thing. Music communicates human emotion on a level that words can’t, Chinese allows me to connect with the world and Chinese native speakers from a unique perspective, literature shows us the similarities and differences of different people from different places, and magic…? I’m not sure I understand where magic fits into the equation. At one point, I thought that the process of learning magic and music and even a second language were all quite similar… but that’s not enough. What is it about the art of magic itself— the product of all the work I put in— that aligns with a performance of music or a piece of literature? For a while, I would say that magic touches on one of the most fundamental principles of human nature—the childlike feeling of awe and astonishment, of discovering something for the first time. You’ve probably heard that before too. But when I think of the routines I’m performing and how procedural they feel— hold the pack in your left hand, look me in the eyes, lift up at a random place, look at what you got, remember it, now I’ll read your mind, etc…. I wondered if that poetic line about magic being related to some childlike sense of wonder is really true. I know what you’re thinking: it’s all about how you perform, not what you perform. You can make anything feel magical with the right presentation. But I don’t think that’s enough. Before COVID hit, I was seriously considering performing mentalism as one of my main income streams, and so when I saw routines that were advertised as reliable and sure fire, I was especially attracted to them. I loved the idea that all I needed was for the routine to work well, and that I didn’t need anything fancy or extravagant to have a good show. Now that I’m thinking of performing more as a pure hobbyist, I still have the desire to perform at a high level. But I feel a strong resistance against the whole idea of corporate mentalism and just trying to do a decent show. I understand why most full time performers are doing things that may be considered more “normal”. At the end of the day, they have to do what pays the bills. For myself, I feel like I want magic to be more artistic and to touch people on a deeper level than most of the standard stuff can. Why not start with a musical performance to make a statement that one of the most magical things in the world is music? Or bring up the idea that life and nature itself is magical and that while we are constantly looking towards impossible things for a sense of amazement, the very fact that we exist is a miracle and mystery that we can never fully understand? Or just have a script that calls for actual acting, and make the show lean towards theater with magical elements?

Here’s another question: if everything I just brought up is possible, do you think a performer has to go through performing all the standard things for a while before deciding to branch out like that? Is it like the idea that in writing, you have to know the rules before you can break them? Or in art, you have to have proved yourself a great artist before you can make a statement with a blank canvas?
Fedora
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There's no rule you have to perform the "standard" stuff,
if you have ideas for doing something interesting, might as well
do it.

I believe each of the things you mentioned is possible, mixing music with
magic is something that has been done awhile, for example, Criss angel
has a good amount of his music in his show.

penn jillette plays the Cello with the band before his show starts.

Having a show revolving around nature could be interesting, anytime
you can get a relevant plot, it's better than simple narration more often
than not.

Approaching writing your show from a theatrical standpoint is something
david Copperfield does in his show I believe, seems to be working out.

Like most things, the audience will tell you if what you're doing is worth doing.
tommy
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Try drinking a point of Pop’s magnetic water a day: it is guaranteed to stimulate and excite parts of the mind that other stuff cannot reach. Smile
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
funsway
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One problem seems to be that the maxim "know your audience" is no longer possible.

COVID distancing and "going out" restrictions are just the final nail in the coffin.
For an unknown audience you can make view assumptions about their expectations of a magic or mentalism performance,
experience with live effects, distracting factors, education, etc. Even for a paying audience, one can have only limited confidence.

So, I am focusing in my writings on ways for a performer to test or evaluate these factors and the Stop, Shift or Branch
to practiced Effects according to what you learn. I use methods called Overture, Prelude and Scaffold as alternative Presentation Modes.

This understanding could help you overcome reluctance and gain confidence by adding planned flexibility over guessing.

I also feel that most people coming to a mentalism show are looking for validation of some belief or personal experience rather than
general entertainment. Your success can be though heightened empathic awareness that can be developed off-stage in daily activities.
Your recognition that there may be an Affect to your efforts some in the audience is a step in the right direction.

On the acting side, it can help to create a theatrical environment first with an engaging storyline. If you get them into a suspension of disbelief mode,
use personification, anthropomorphizing and allusion, change them from 'spectators' to 'participants', and get them to like you -
you can then shift to impossible things.

Write me ken@eversway.com if you wish to explore such concepts further.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
tommy
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One way to get over fear or self-consciousness is to talk about what somebody else did as you demonstrate what they did: that way it feels like you are not doing it but merely showing what somebody else did. This mind trick is explained better by Lennart Green on one of his DVDs.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
landmark
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I wonder what instruments you play and whether you can mix music and magic.

Have you ever seen the beautiful floating violin routine? If you are someone who really plays the violin that could be awesome (of course it would require a switch, but hey you can figure that out...)
Pop Haydn
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If you want to combine music, theater and magic, you may want to study "Our Magic" by Maskelyne and Devant. It explains the differences between theater and magic, and how they work together.
tommy
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Yes.

However, I will say that the drama of our magic lies in the bosh, which is proved real by a wonderful science called a magic experiment, in order to create a magic which is both unreal and real simultaneously.

One might make a little drama out of music with a bit of bosh anyway: assert that the music has the mysterious power to make a rope get up and dance. Therein is your drama and now all you need to do is prove it real with your wonderful science.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
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