Change of Performance Style

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Geraint2k2, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. I've been out filming this weekend. Filming a flourish video and some new magic for the wire.

    Getting a nice live performance was a must, but when out there. I realised I wasn't as entertaining as I thought I was.

    I've lost my natural performance style, and watching the footage back. I wasn't sure If I was being too critical or if I was a rubbish performer.

    I took a two year hiatus from learning anything new or practicing a lot, and quit performing last year to concentrate on my University degree. My style of performing is very informal, and the weddings I did magic at would flow from showing people magic at tables, to suddenly being surrounded by people in the lobby or the garden. Very informal. Relaxed and impromptu.

    I'm attributing this sudden loss of confidence and style to The Session and Blackpool conventions. When there i've seen Dani DaOrtiz, who's inspired me to give a nonchalant attitude to performing, and then contradicting performers like Alan Rorrison and Dee Christopher where everything is scripted or set-up to be presented in an exact way.

    My discussion point is this. Do you believe in performing as a performer, or performing an effect?
    A lot of people focus on making the magic as real as possible, and the centre of all attention.
    Others concentrate on making the performance, funny or serious as a character, and building an identity.

    Some of the best performers i've seen. Like Eric Jones, are just themselves and relax, and it works.

    Others like Derren Brown build a character and present effects in a way that suits the character.

    I'd love to hear your opinions on this. Whether you think it's important to have a character, or whether you think it's important to be relaxed, and just be yourself. Do you enhance an effect by setting the mood, or do you simply take the audience further away from the magic?
    Also, have any of you ever hit a bump in the road. A point where you're not sure if you've been doing the right thing? How was that changed your style ?

    - Happy Monday everyone.
  2. Hey,

    I think its definitely important to make sure that you KNOW what your going to do. I wouldn't necessarily script EVERYTHING but its definitely a good start. Scripting things and knowing what your going to say before you say them keeps you from being at a loss of words. Once you know your effect/script perfectly, you then have room to ad-lib and appear to be at ease. If you just don't want to script things then my advice is to take a public speaking course or an improvisational acting course. These courses definitely help with doing effects on a whim.

    Hope this helps.
  3. Taking a year or two away from anything will lead to a degradation in ability, be it performing magic, playing harmonica or whatever.

    I may be reading too much into this, but when you say "i've seen Dani DaOrtiz, who's inspired me to give a nonchalant attitude to performing", that to me speaks only to the character, not to the performance itself. That the character can be nonchalant, even if it's all scripted.

    When you say "everything is scripted or set-up to be presented in an exact way", do you mean that the script reveals a character that is exact? That's just a choice - a script (a good one) can sound as though it was made up on the spot. Indeed, they shoud sound that way.

    "My discussion point is this. Do you believe in performing as a performer, or performing an effect?"
    I have no idea what you mean by this.

    A character is anyone that is performing - Eric Jones is a character when he's working, and so is everyone else. That Eric's character is close to the real guy, that it's not a broad, fantasy character (like Pop Haydn, for instance), does not mean that it's not a character.

    Can you see Eric Jones doing Human Blockhead? Doing insult humour, like Gazzo does? Would that be out of character?

    Any time you're performing for people, you're a character - and how that character is revealed, and it is motivated make a lot of difference. Most importantly, why is this character (ostensibly) in front of us, doing magic? When I busk, the real reason, like any busker is the GTFM (get the ... money). But what I say, what I reveal is that I'm here to baffle and amuse for 20 minutes, to make them laugh and amaze them.

    Eric is there to show you something cool and amazing. He's a cool guy that does amazing things. He dresses like a cool guy, talks like one, and performs like one. That's his character, made up or not.

    Being cool and yourself is not opposed to character... it IS character. It takes a lot of skill to do a character far away from the real self - I'm not good enough to do anything more than an exaggeration of myself, so that's what I do. I script everything, because I have more important things to think about rather than 'what do I say next? What effect would follow this one well?' I want every word to tell, to be as simple, direct and powerful as it can be; I never want to say "uh" or "um", and I want to cut every excess word. That can only be done through a good script that gets edited and rewritten, tried and tested.

    I don't want to leave anything to chance. I have more important things to think about.
  4. It's not whether or not you have a character, it's whether you have a character on purpose.

    Most performers have a character, and the good ones have thought about that character. You could also replace 'character' with 'style' in some instance. The trend these days is to be an exaggeration of one's self, a la David Blaine, Criss Angel, etc. Most performers that I've seen use this model whether they realize it or not. The smart ones know enough to realize that even if you're just 'being yourself' you still have some things that just won't fit your style. Once you start realizing that, you're honing a character.

    Every character that one plays, be it in a play or in a magic act, is an extension of one's self. Derren Brown may not be quite as intense outside of his performances, but he's still someone who's deeply interested in psychology and Victorian aesthetics.

    Also, regarding scripting: Everyone who wants a good performance will script, it's just a matter of how much. For some, the basic outlines are enough. There will be a couple bullet point lines that they use every time, and everything else is filled in on the spot. Others will script everything and not deviate much from that script. I'm somewhere in between, probably closer to filling in the gaps than total scripting. I think it's just foolish for most people to try to improv their entire show. It shows a complete lack of professionalism and leads to bad performances full of sports casting and "uh".

    So, I think for most people it's not necessary to have a completely developed character. As in, you don't need to create something from the ground up with a back story and all that. Most magicians are amateurs with no real over-arching goal for their magic other than to entertain for a few moments at a time. But it is important to understand what does and does not fit your personality, performance wise. Also, when it comes to developing a professional act, I think a character is vital, even if that character is just an exaggeration of one's self. Look at Penn & Teller, Brian Brushwood, etc. It's important to know who you are in a definable way when you're on stage, so you can develop an effective and entertaining show.
  5. I prefer a more theatrical character driven performance. I think that the thought that goes into developing a character helps a whole lot with the magic performed.

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