How to create a stage show?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Philipp S.(4), Jun 18, 2014.

  1. Hey there,

    I just graduated and now I am planning to wait a year before studying and I want to use this time to develop my magic and create a stage show. I have 1 year for this and this is my project or my goal I've set myself for this year. Also I am trying to get more paid gigs.
    So here is my question: How do I create a stage show and what things do I have to keep in mind?
    I want to present myself as a nice, humorous and quick-witted person. How do I/Can I adapt any trick to fit this type of personality.
    As far as tricks go I own, not able to perform properly, a Banknight Routine, a rope routine, a Jumbo ID and Booktest. What is the best way to transmit my personality on stage and what type of tricks should I chose to transport that to the audience?
    Do you have book suggestions on the topic?
  2. STEP ONE: decide if you are going to do Magic or Mentalism; you cannot do both in the same show! You can present a piece of Mental Magic in a magic show but when you couple the arts and try to work them as being one in the same thing, you will loose the prospective impact of the mentalism in that it incorporates a completely different set of psychological rules than magic. Look at it this way, people come to a magic show knowing that it's all tricks. When they come to see a Mind Reader/Mentalist they aren't certain and for the most part, want to believe that what they are witnessing is true . . . as Dunninger pointed out long ago NO ONE WANTS TO PAY TO SEE A FAKE MIND READER.

    SECOND STEP: You need to create a persona that fits one or the other kind of characters; a magician or a mentalist. Then you must define your market; what is the most practical environment for you to work and why as well as the age group range and why. This has to be done before you can start creating an effective and marketable product/show.

    SUGGESTION ONE: assuming that you are old enough to get into a night club, I'd encourage you to do some show cases and get a feel of what it's like to do a simple 5 minute - 20 minute set. It's not as easy as it looks and it takes some savvy to pull it off.

    Too, you may want to get involved with the local Improvisational Troops so you can learn to think on your feet and learn more about audience management as you earn stage experience. Trust me, you won't regret this step.

    If you are not old enough to get involved with show cases then you need to do talent shows and short spots at all the local events such as street festivals, mall promotions, etc. get seen! But, get seen doing the form of magic you believe you are a.) most drawn to; b.) that's the most practical to your situation (the available market you are in and best suited for). and c.) the form of magic for which you want to build an image around. . . understand, Mentalism is like doing comedy. . . it's not meant for the faint of heart; it's actually quite difficult to pull off in a convincing manner. This is especially true when you're young and inexperienced.

    I'm more than happy to work with you a bit more one on one to help you figure things out and get moving along a chosen path, this is just a few things to weigh. Personally, given that I believe you're under 22 years of age, you may find it more pragmatic to simply create a solid kids show and push doing birthday parties, etc. for the next year or two. This will give you some excellent experience as well as time and money that can be invested into the "real" project -- creating a full stage production. If you decide to stick with magic solely then I can help you with big illusion pieces. Needless to say, if you go with Mentalism, I can help you cultivate that niche as well. . .even starting from a younger age.
  3. Hey Craig and thanks for your nice post.

    I think my personality would fit more into a magician.

    I want to be perceived as a nice, humorous and quick-witted person. Is this enough of a character or should I deepen my character and if so how do I do it?

    Im 17 so I'm only allowed to stay in a Night Club til 22 o'clock (10 pm) but I turn 18 this year.

    A friend of my made the suggestions I should ask at my local theater to perform at mixed evenings (means younger artists and all sorts of artists get the oppurtunity to perform) (is this what you mean with a Improvisational Troops?).

    I think the best thing for me would be at first to create sets of 10 to 20 minutes in a Parlor Setting as I am performing in a restaurant and I often have to entertain groups of 15-50 people and I have nothing for such a setting. I own, but not able to perform, Linking Rings, a Rope Routine, and a Ring-Rope-Routine as well as an Invisible Deck (ID and ROPE are better than the others.) I think that a Monte Routine with jumbo cards would be great. But keep in my that I have a very limited pocket space. I could do a three phase parlor programm with Rope - Ring - Ring&Rope. Do you have suggestions for other tricks that might suit a restaurant environment? After I've gained experience in this field I (3-5 times a months ? 4 hours) I would move on to a 30-45 kids programm. I would have the oppurtunity to perform for a local childrens hospital in September. I don't know if I'm able to create a kids program in such a short time. Do you think a BN Routine fits into a magician role, if performed properly?

    Craig, thanks so much for your help. Would you prefer a conversation via PM?

  4. #4 Craig Browning, Jun 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 19, 2014
    Again, I'd discourage you from doing much in way of Mentalism but, a fun "Bank Night" bit might be to invest into Larry Becker's CASINO ROYALE. . . it's pure Mental Magic, it's fun and it plays big.

    A Monte Routine. . . look up a routine known as Sidewalk Shuffle; there are variations to it but I've always enjoyed the original.

    Understand, you could do a routine like Sam the Bellhop from stage using large indexed cards (easier to see at distance). It's very amusing, witty and fun for all.

    Study Harry Anderson's stage character, you might have fun with that -- street wise hustler that people like type persona.

    THEATER is a good thing, get as much exposure as you can in that arena it will get you far. You're young enough to benefit from workshops in acting, voice, public speaking, dance (tap & jazz), even modeling in that all of these things are building blocks towards character creation and building your resume.

    An Improv Group is usually about a dozen people that learn how to spontaneously move into character and routines; watch the shoe "Who's Line Is It Anyway" and you'll get a great idea as to what it's like.
  5. As a matter of fact im a big fan of the show "Whose Line Is It Anyways" esp. "Scenes from a Hat" :)

    So does you disagreement for me doing mentalism mean that I shouldn't perform any mental effect such as a book test?

    I had this discussion among a group of magicians whether I should play a character or see my character as an extension of myself. I tend to share the Daniel Garcia viewpoint where he states that his character is just an extension of himself.

    I will look for an Improv Group in my area.

    As for the BN routine I have John Archer's one :)

    What do you think about the structure of this small set of parlour effects?

    1. Rope routine
    2. Linking Rings
    3. Ring-Rope-Routine

    I think that they play well together and in the end I have a nice climax and a link of the both props I used earlier.

    For me personally the rope routine always got great reactions and was something comfortable for me.

    I tend to have bad results with the ID when presented as a mental effect. If I however present it as an experiment of coincidence it always worked very good.

    Do you think one can present a book test in under the pattern memory test? I just spend money on an impression device so I somehow wanna use it, hm? :) But as you stated Mentalism would be the wrong approach for me thus far.

    Do you have suggestions for a parlour opener or additional effects that could go into my first parlour set and whee can I find this Sidewalk Shuffle?

    No, I do not suggest you do a book test in a magic show; you will lose the impact behind the effect because people will see it as a trick vs. a mental miracle. On the other hand I see nothing wrong with Mental Epic because so many magicians have done it over the years that it's become a recognized "trick" vs. the miracle it once was. There is a photographic book test out there somewhere, I've not seen it advertised in ages but that might be an option. You might have fun with a John Riggs routine known as the PROCRASTINATING PROGNOSTICATOR . . . I'll have to see which one of his books has it, I know he also wrote it up for a magazine at one time. . . it's seriously funny stuff that would work well for a magic show. The other piece is my friend Roni Shachnaey's GRAFFITI routine but I believe it retails for around $500.00

    I'll have to think about the other questions you have and see what I can come up with.
  7. As per my experience of 20 years in magic I would like to suggest some basic points:
    First choose the best place to perform. Which cost less to audience, so that it attracts huge amount of people, as it would be your 1st show.

    As we say 1st experience is the last ,keeping this thing in mind, perform the best activity you are known which takes your audience journey into the mysteries of the human mind, and spellbound them by your act. Involves audience participation in a friendly, humorous yet spellbinding way.
    This will surely work as a successful performer.
  8. #8 RedbeardThePink, Jun 26, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2014
    Mr. Browning is an experienced performer and on a general basis he's right about mentalism and magic, but I respectfully disagree with the point that mentalism and magic must be presented separately in absolutely all circumstances. It really depends on the character you build. There are magicians out there who succeed in blending magic and mentalism, but to do it they have to build a kind of intense character that purports to have at least some legitimate otherworldly ability. That performance approach doesn't fall into line with my ethics, so I don't generally use it, but it works for some people.

    It is also possible to adapt ideas, methods, principles and even effects from mentalism so they'll work in a magic routine. The difference between mentalism and magic is more about presentation and choice of material than anything else, in my opinion. Mentalism presents itself as being a real feat of psychic ability and tends to include mind-reading, telepathy, telekinesis, and the like, whereas magic these days usually presents itself openly as a form of entertainment through deception. Those two methods of presentation are mutually exclusive because one admits deception and the other does not, but aside from that a little mind-reading or telekinesis can really spice up a magic routine, and playing cards can make a handy prop for mentalism. Rich Ferguson uses a book test as a lead-in to an effect where he covertly stamps a chosen word on someone's arm. There can be some crossover. If you're going for a funny character, though, you're probably going to be more toward the magician spectrum. Mentalism tends to be a bit dry and intense, though I'm sure exceptions exist.

    As for the character thing, I'm all for building an avatar character. That's sort of like what you'd do if you were trying to build yourself in a video game or other role playing game. Redbeard The Pink is sort of an idealized caricature of the non-fictional human Andy Redbeard McFarlin, which is who I am when I go about everyday non-fictional life. I started off as a LARP character based on the person playing me and through the fiction eventually became the bizarre character you see today, but my design and experiences are still rooted in the personality of the human who portrays me, so I work pretty well as a performance vehicle.
  9. Not really. The approach to performance is different for a magician and a mentalist. To put it succinctly, mentalism is a way of life. Magicians put their persona on to perform, mentalists are their persona.

    While I am not as staunchly opposed as Craig is, I have seen extremely few magicians who do mentalism justice. It just takes a different approach and most magicians just can't savvy that difference so they perform it as a trick. Which ruins it.
  10. Craig I really respect you man but have to disagree with the Dunninger point. Most if not all mind readers I've ever seen other than Uri have stated at some point in their show that they are not real. Derren Brown, Dee Christopher, Peter Turner ... the list goes on I'm sure. Might have been the way to do things in Dunningers time but not now I don't think, people are too savvy!

  11. Every act you named got popular after about 2003. Name some people before 2000 that worried about those disclaimers?

    Furthermore - People still believe Derren Brown is psychic even though he basically crusades against the idea that psychic abilities even exist. Dee Christopher is so good I'm sure he gets the same thing - though I'm not sure how much he tries to debunk psychics. Peter Turner focuses more on the "forensic mindreader" thing (a phrase I think sounds just great, personally) and furthermore, focuses on the experience for the spectator. I bet lots of people think he's the real deal, too.

    People are not "too savvy" and that statement would be insulting to anyone who genuinely believes in supernatural phenomenon. It implies that anyone who believes is stupid. That's not the case. I know some very intelligent people who are absolutely sure that ghosts exist. I know a professional psychic who currently is earning three bachelors degrees simultaneously. What you're showing is a distinct bias towards your own belief system and culture.

    From personal experience I almost always have people come up to me after a show and ask me about supernatural things. My show doesn't have disclaimers - I find them insulting, personally. I remember, distinctly, a lady coming up to me after one of my more recent shows and asking me about the concept of increasing her sensitivity to her son's energies so she could be aware of if he was ever in danger regardless of where he was.

    As for what kinds of shows people want, another example from this recent festival. There were three magic acts at this festival. One was classic magic presented to rock and roll. Another was classic parlor magic. The last was bizarre magic. One of those acts won an award for selling out. One of the acts received nothing but glowing reviews. One of the acts received nothing but poor reviews and barely filled any seats. One of them got no reviews at all and usually only a half house each night.

    Want to guess which one was which? I'll tell you, because it's a point of pride. I won the award. I sold out my show. I got nothing but glowing reviews. The other, classic, guys? They've both got more than 3 times my experience and are known names in the area. I am unknown, and an unusual act, in a conservative area. Three of my favorite comments were, "I like that your show is geared towards intellectuals", "This is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life" and "He made me believe he was the real deal".

    When presented well a performance which is mystical, and done well, appeals to a deeper level of our psyche. We enjoy an evening of pure entertainment (brain candy, I call it) but we crave something with meaning.
  12. You're slightly misunderstanding the point about Dunninger. While Derren Brown might not claim to have supernatural powers (whatever the hell "supernatural" means!), he does imply that he is "real", i.e that he is using a genuine set of skills to achieve the effect of mind reading and mind control. Same with Peter Turner and same (from the small amount of his performances I've seen) with Dee Christopher. Also, "most" mind readers are working as professional psychics or readers, not as performing mentalists, and they very definitely present themselves as real.

    And even if we are only talking about "psychic" abilities when we say "real", Christopher's absolutely right. Just because you don't believe in psychic powers or telepathy, doesn't mean that other people don't. Or even that those people are wrong. Read some of Rupert Sheldrake's work and then see whether your idea of "savvy" changes.

    When people go to see a mind reader, they want to see someone doing mind reading, whatever that means. That's part of the intrinsic appeal and attraction of mentalism in the first place, the chance to find out what mind reading is. Is it communing with spirits, is it NLP, is it a learned set of skills, is it a natural gift? To tell your audience it's all a trick is basically saying it's pointless. There's nothing theatrically or emotionally resonant about someone revealing my thoughts if I know there's no genuine ability involved. It just becomes a game of "spot the gimmick", even for laypeople. Is it the envelope? Is it the pen? Is it the clipboard? Is there a camera somewhere? We know it's not the performer, because he's told us he's fake, so now we're just going to sit in the audience and try and guess the method rather than engaging.
  13. And yet you have the ONLY Mind Reading act to ever win FISM, the Evansons that refuse to use a disclaimer.

    I've found that most people that take this stance are not educated in the history of Mentalism and how it was traditionally presented well into the mid-20th century. . . with few exceptions most all sold themselves as the real deal. It really wasn't until the rise of the Church of Randi that we saw more and more acts being forced into the niche we see so prevalent today i.e. the mid-1970s and forward. That's not to say that there hasn't been a cross-over factor, one that I've discussed many times on the forums, in which Magic & Mentalism have worked in concert with one another, my chief reference being the Larsen Book on Magic & Mentalism in which the suggestion exist that the magic portion of the evening be early followed by a totally separate "adult" program of mental or spiritual matters -- Mentalism being seen as more intellectual or cerebral as well as REAL.

    Mentalism requires an investment of belief that magic does not, nor does the latter ask for it these days; there is an agreement between audience and performer that tricks & illusions are the tools of the craft and amusement. Not so with Mentalism; a degree of belief MUST be present otherwise you're doing a trick. Even people that claim to use FACS, NLP, Body Language, etc. require an investment of belief from the public and most of them rely on double-speak when they walk through their disclaimer.

    I invested the first 20 years of my career working as a magician and most of the past 20+ years as a Psychic Entertainer; I have studied these things closely and know the differences of nuance and presentation. I also understand why the more commercially recognized performers out there use disclaimers -- it's for sake of business and getting the corporate gigs, not high moral character. Corporations rarely elect to be tied to a "Psychic" but have no qualms being associated with a magician, it's that simple. Yet, we're seeing a drastic shift in the world because of the social mind-set's shift towards "Green" thinking and Universality of Humanity vs. the Left Brained path we've been stuck to for so long.

    Yes, there are ways of blending magic with mentalism, the Urban~Shaman tradition that's slowly coming up from the underground is one such means but not everyone that thinks themselves part of the U~S movement is one. Our Facebook Group has proven this in that many that apply for membership don't meet the requisites -- they are still disbelievers of magic and rationalists at an extreme, which prevents one from bridging the gap between the two art forms due to lack of belief & faith. . . they miss the proverbial point.

    My contention is a simple one; a fool in clown face should not be doing MOAB and yet we've seen it done at Kiddie parties no less. When such happens it lessens the impact of that particular effect when presented by the performer that has invested years into developing a persona and deliberateness that convey's psychic-like prowess. . . the ability to suspend DISBELIEF long enough to create doubt in the mind of the observer -- doubt of trickery!

    I've sat in shows featuring Kreskin, in which people are crying as they try to send their thoughts to him during his Q&A. . . you'll not see this in a Magic Show.

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