Platform, Parlour, Stage

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by RediSpades, May 5, 2012.

  1. I have been doing close up work for some time now, and I would definitely consider myself a close-up magician, but I just wanted to know what in the world is the difference between Platform, Parlour, and Stage Magic?

    Thanks Guys
  2. Platform and parlor are the same thing. Think of parlor as performing in the living room of someone's house (most children's magic is parlor). Think of platform as performing in front of a larger room like a ballroom in a hotel (sometimes on a raised platform).

    For most close up magic, the props are small -- cards, coins, rubber bands, etc. For parlor/platform you can and typically should use bigger props. For closeup, you can fit your props in your pockets, for a parlor show you will probably need something the size of a large storage tub. That being said, many close-up effects can be adapted for parlor/platform presentation.

    The presentation of parlor/platform is different from close-up in that you need to project the effect to the audience rather than bringing the audience into the effect as you do in closeup. Parlor/platform allows you greater leeway regarding angles because you don't have spectators behind you or to your sides. Most talent show performances are parlor/platform type effects, rather than stage effects (despite being performed on stage).

    Stage magic is parlor/platform magic super sized. Generally, stage magic refers to large scale illusions and includes more elaborate costuming, lighting and choreography. Your packing goes from a trunk to a truck.
  3. This is a bit more complicated to clarify. Where R1 is correct he's likewise not in that many small stage/parlor workers can still carry their act in their pockets or at most, a briefcase (ask Paul Daniel, a full 2 hour show in a single briefcase on the Vegas strip and he killed!) Parlor Magic originally included all forms of dexterity type work i.e. card, ball, thimble, cigarette and even candle manipulations as well as bits with small livestock such as bird & bunny productions. . . larger bits that would be proper to a larger living room of say, group of 30-60 guests. Parlor is likewise the environment most common (and conducive) to Mentalism even though many of us these days envision the Mind Reader and a grand theatrical setting such as it was 60+ years ago. But the original environment was the "Music Parlor" of wealthy citizens in that the average person couldn't afford such trivialities unless it was part of a side show at the county fair.

    "Stage" Magic has become a new-ish category that's more akin to the old Club Acts that had larger scaled pieces like a Head Chopper, Walking thru a Ribbon or even a small escape such as a Slick Post or Pillory Stock. Some might have featured a simple suspension but rarely did anything bigger than a Sub Trunk. Most such acts were the same thing as the Parlor act however, with a couple of extra features tossed in for sake of time and press.

    "Grand Stage" is where we find the ILLUSIONISTS (as in the proper association to said label) -- the guys (and a few gals) that present things like the Sawing, Asrah, etc. While they will use "hand prop" type effects such as you find in the Parlor and "Illusionettes" like the Stage/Cabaret performer they are best known from the grand scaled impossibilities and massive theatrical revue programs 90-120 minutes in running time (sometimes more). This is where you find your Blackstone & Thurston legends and the modern persona of Copperfield, Lance Burton and the uncanny Sigfried & Roy (their kind of show will never be known again, it was a true wonder).

    The other way of looking at it is that the Close-up worker, parlor & cabaret performers can known 40 year long careers and not invest as much cash in their entire repertoire as an Illusionist will into a single feature. . . hell, I can't even afford to build, let alone buy some of the effects I helped develop over the years . . . not at $15,000.00 and more for one piece.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: While my head was filled with dreams when I was younger and no one could talk me out of doing the big stuff I have learned the hard way that one is far more wise to stick with the smaller props and lower profiled programs. You will keep more of the cash in your pocket and if you really are good, still be able to charge premium fees. But too, the big box shows are simply harder to book due to costs and you end up being more akin to a farmer; all your money tied up on equipment and storage with less and less going into your own pocket. So be very cautious when considering this option.
  4. Take the advice of Jeff McBride and 'Pack Small, Play Big'. According to Mr McBride his entire Stage Show can pretty much fit into 2 large flight cases.

    The one issue when it comes to stage/grand illusions is as Craig has mentioned the cost. A good friend of mine has an amazing 7 minute silent act, that packs down very small. However the entire thing cost around £5000 to put together. Magic is very expensive, especially props made for stage.

    Despite the amazing costs however, you can buy a lot of good magic second hand at a lot cheaper prices when it comes to stage. Retiring magicians will sell on their acts some of the time to make some cash back on their act. This also could work to the advantage of a beginner as it is the entire act at half, or sometimes more than half the original cost. Also depending on the age of the act you may be able to find tricks in the collection that haven't been seen in the mainstream for a long time which could be a great USP depending on the trick.


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