Making magic emotional

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by Tecum, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. Hello peapole. I have been thinking about how to make your magic show emotional. What i mean is i want to leave my auidience whith an impact and an emotion of like wow what did i just watch that was the greatest thing ever. So im thinking about coming full circle in the end whit some emotional instrumental music and maby a message. I watched Manolo Costa and Mindanguillo perfrom at magic weekend they ended whith a beuitiful messege wich was " violence tears us apart" that messege made sense whith the act and it had an impact on the auidience. So my goal whith this thread is to start a discussion about how to make magic emotional and leave your auidience whith a feeling.
  2. There is actually a very good book on this subject by Richard Osterlin (actually three books that are now combined as one trilogy book) called "Making Magic Real" and "Making Real Magic". It's all theory about how to bring emotion to your performances and not only make your audience feel like they've seen real magic, but how to make you believe it as you perform it! (because, that is the key!)
  3. Go watch the first 8 minutes of the Pixar movie Up. Not a word said, but when I saw that every adult in the audience was on the verge of tears. The same with the incinerator scene in Toy Story 3. Why?

    The stories touched us because of a familiarity with our own experiences and our emotions. Up provoked thoughts of our grandparents or parents or even our spouses and the struggles that are inevitable in life. Toy Story 3 made us think of our friendships in life. Both appealed to our more noble inclinations. We wanted to be a better version of ourselves. We saw a reflection and in that reflection we found meaning.

    Putting emotion into your magic is easy to do badly. It is easy to be trite - an ambitious card routine that talks about always being able to rise above adversity. When you say the message it loses its power. The key is doing it subtlety. You want the audience to have to think to get the message. Think about how parables work - they illustrate the message without saying it.

    The other problem is the magic not being strong enough to withstand the message. It is harder with card tricks because they are trivial magic. There isn't much meaning in an ace assembly or even a matrix routine.

    Finally, your character needs to be able to support an emotional presentation. A trickster who presents every effect by narrating the adventures of the props cannot all of a sudden become serious and thoughtful.

    Let me give some examples from my repertoire. I have a routine using worry stones (based on a Eugene Burger routine using prayer beads) that talks about worry and prayer, quoting the pop star Jewel, a Russian philosopher, a Dutch theologian and my mother. The message is that prayer changes the person who prays. I have a kids linking rings routine that tells the story of a young dragon who falls into a rock crevice and can only get out by linking the rings together by using the dragon fire that is within him. My egg bag routine is about a girl named Margaritte who lived with her mother in Nazi occupied France during World War II. A German Sargent comes by every day demanding she give him the eggs her chickens lay. She wishes that the eggs disappear and they do. Then she finds out that the Sargent isn't quite like what appears to be and she uses her magic to help him feed some orphaned children that he is taking care of. I've written a script for a Sands of the Dessert routine talking in the abstract about how life becomes clouded and confused. Then I rewrote the script to talk about a time in my life where I found myself lost and confused and seeking clarity. Personal experiences are so much more powerful. I do a haunted key routine based on a story about an armoire in the upstairs bedroom in grandparents house that used to really freak me out as a child. I'm working on a needle swallowing routine where I juxtapose a series of bad puns with the macabre idea of swallowing needles and washing them down with a glass of wine. The combination of the familiar (a glass of wine at the end of the day), with the macabre (swallowing needles) and the ridiculous (puns) has the audience in a state of unease.

    With emotion, the advice of the late great Eugene Burger is soo important: a show should have texture. There needs to be a blend of serious, whimsical, thoughtful, funny, heartwarming and, yes, even disturbing emotions. My goal with my shows it to give the audience something to think about and talk about afterwards. I remember one woman who came up to me after a show and asked me to repeat exactly what I said in one routine so she could get it exactly right when she told her husband that night. The benefit is that the audience remembers your magic in the context of the presentation.

    As for books, read anything by Eugene Burger, Robert Neale, Larry Haas, Walt Anthony and David Parr.
    Hgagnon and Lindel like this.
  4. You don't need music to add emotion.

    The key is honestly. Avoid irony and cliches. Make it personal and be careful about who you select.
    Maaz Hasan likes this.
  5. I think that in a stage or parlor show, music can add to emotion if used right. I use different instrumental music as a background for each effect. The music matches the emotion. The start of the music cues the audience in that something magical is about to happen. The effect needs to be timed to the music.
  6. I agree that it's a powerful tool and could make a routine more emotional. You can have a very emotional show or act without music as well. I'don't consider my stage show to be full of emotion and I don't use very much music at all. I think that there is also a danger in choosing music poorly that distracts rather than enhances.
    RealityOne likes this.
  7. Hello all thanck you for your posts my notifications did not work proberly i apoligise for that.
  8. Qoute RealityOne

    Finally, your character needs to be able to support an emotional presentation. A trickster who presents every effect by narrating the adventures of the props cannot all of a sudden become serious and thoughtful.

    Well i kind of agree whith you but i have seen perfromers do a funny lighthearted act then ending whith a very deep or poetic gypasy thread. Monolo Costa and Mindanguillo do a comedic act then end on a sad and impactfull note. Maby im misunderstanding you i get the sense that you dont thinck it is a good idea to mix performing styles. What do you thinck about for example do a funny.dramatic,serious/sad/ deep, emotional act. Me for example im currently building a show i imagine it to start on a happy tone and have a funny/natrual middle then ending on a deep emotional tone to give some impact. What do you thinck.
  9. @Tecum , I actually DO think that a performance should have a variety of emotions or "texture" as I said in my original post. My point in what you quoted is that you can't have a bunch of tricks without any presentation other than "look at this" and then do a very emotional piece.
    Josh Burch likes this.
  10. Derren Brown talks about this in "Absolute Magic." He wants his audience to be as emotionally invested as possible, which is what led him to develop the presentation style that he has today.

    I think the best way is to emotionally invest in your performances yourself as well. I hardly ever "make up" fake stories to tell in my routines. I find something that has actually happened to me before and try to intertwine it in my performance. That way, when I am telling the story, I am speaking naturally and from the heart. Emotion CAN be transferred. I learned that as a music major, when we are trying to convey our emotions through the songs that we play. I try to do the same in my magic.

    Sometimes, we may not be able to find a true story about ourselves to fix into a routine. If you decide to create a fictitious story, be sure that it is interesting (and short!) enough that the audience will not get bored or overwhelmed by it.
    Josh Burch likes this.
  11. I guess it depends on how good your fake stories are. The stories I tell often are fictional, but I an able to write and tell a story with emotion. I think that the story definitely needs to be interesting, but I don't agree about it needing to be short. Most of my routines are done to stories and the story is told throughout the routine. If you are talking about a story as an introduction to a routine, then you should keep it short.
  12. I agree. A fake story can still be honest as well. It can be honest emotionally, and intellectually.
  13. Very good points.

    And you are right about the stories not needing to be short. I remember watching Suzanne perform her cups and balls routine. It was around 10 minutes long and a whole story was told throughout. It was amazing. I think I said short to pertain to my own routines, because most of them aren't long enough for a legit story to take place.

    And maybe the consideration of stories depends on the personality of the performer as well.
  14. In thinking about emotion, meaning and stories, I think it is important to understand what makes a good story. Read The Brothers Grimm, The Book of Virtues and anything on folklore, mythology or parables. One great soure for stories and humor is Reader's Digest. Read books about theories of how the world woks like Blink or Freakonomics. Read books that relate to your presentations like The Jungle Book or works of Edgar Allen Poe. Read books about history and philosophy. You will accumulate a series of presentations that are just waiting for the right effect.
    There does need to be a level of substance to an effect or routine to allow the performer to develop an emotional presentation.
    Josh Burch likes this.

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