Honesty vs Character

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MohanaMisra, Mar 14, 2020.

  1. A strong character is absolutely necessary while performing. Whether or not the character is exactly you, an extension of you, or something completely different, that is what the question is.

    While magicians beg each other in the community to have a character 'unique to oneself', so that magic soon becomes an undisputed art form, the emphasis is also on 'Be yourself, look into yourself.'

    My question is, what if I look into myself, find a strong enough character in there, but...

    It is nothing different from others? What if it is NOT unique?

    What if I look into myself, find a love of music, and a million other magicians also love music and incorporate it in their character? What if I look further in and find love of rock music (say) and again find hundreds of magicians using that?

    What if a guy really does want to grow a beard, get tattoos, wear a jacket and perform outside on the streets EVEN IF he has never seen the popular YT magicians?

    The solution then seems to change to 'Be yourself, but a version that is unique to you'. But as I said, after the billions of years that magic has been around for, uniqueness (if not impossible) is terribly difficult to find.

    The easier solution is to take up an absolutely different character, even risking mimicking or acting out a character extremely different from me. AGAIN there's the danger of messing that up because magicians have this terrible habit of not taking acting out characters seriously, not taking the 'acting' part of it seriously.

    So what do we do? How to design a character for oneself?

    PS:- It's a sad thing that while we all like to think we're extremely unique, the fact remains that humans are largely similar. Couple that with a long-running craft and we have the unique-character-deficiency syndrome for magicians today.
  2. Everyone has something that is unique about them. Yes, generally speaking we all have very similar life experiences, but our thoughts and interests are our own.

    Instead of worrying about creating a unique character, worry about creating an authentic character.

    I believe both Derren Brown and Paul Brook have talked about asking others to describe you honestly, and working on a character from that. It's not easy to have people list off your traits (particularly if you encourage them also to mention the 'bad' stuff), but it's important.

    Creating a character that is totally fictional is tricky. Unless someone has had acting training they will usually not pull it off well. Think of all the times someone has done a fake accent and how terrible it usually sounds. Same thing. It takes training to do a fake character well.

    The common advice of "be yourself" is flawed in that most people can't even coherently define "yourself".

    Personally, I have found that the best way to develop a character is to decide what your goal is, create what you think that character would look like with yourself as the base, and then get out and start performing it. There will be adjustments along the way - constantly. I've been performing as "The Witch Doctor" for well over 5 years now and it's still an evolving process every time I set foot on stage. The longer I do it, the more like him I become and the more like me he becomes. These days the line between the stage persona and the 'normal' me is pretty blurry.

    A great thing about working on one's character is that it innately improves the magic one performs. This is because with a clearly defined character come restrictions and guidelines. It guides material selection, script content, clothing, and so on - every aspect of performance will be helped by knowing what the character stepping on stage is before hand.
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  3. You will never have to worry about being unique if you just be yourself. In fact, you will never be able to be anything other than unique, because there is only one you in this whole world. When I reached a point of feeling like I was starting to achieve some success as a performer, it was because I came to realize that it was much more about the audience than about me. I started learning, remembering and using their names, listening carefully to what they said, and interacting and having fun with them. I began adapting my scripts, plots and presentations towards making them center stage in the magic and being the stars. People are drawn to us based not on how they feel about some character we've designed, but on how we make them feel about themselves.
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  4. What is the line between (in terms of performance character) adapting to different situations and 'selling out'? Or is there no such thing as the latter?
  5. If there is such a thing as "selling out" I would say it happens when the performer is using material they don't even enjoy or don't personalize - but instead make it so that it hopefully appeals to a particular audience. Doing that can bring in money (sometimes a lot), I think it's very difficult to stay excited about it if there's nothing of the performer in the material. It just becomes another job.
  6. So that means that it is okay to have a character varying as per you mood on that particular day or during that particular time?
  7. For a casual performer, sure. But a professional needs to be consistent, otherwise people don't know what they are hiring.
  8. "Nothing is more to me than myself." - Max Stirner
    MohanaMisra likes this.

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