You’ve Got Talent: Characterizing the Presentation of Magic
(Chapter 12 of 15)
XII. What’s in a Name?
Specifically, a stage name. Why would you use one? Why indeed. The reasons for selecting a stage name are as numerous as why someone would want to create a performance character, and arguably just as important.
A stage name could add flavor to your act, round out a character, add definition to a character, help further define an image, or create a certain expectancy within an audiences mind to how this character is to behave, or even suggest a characters moral alignment.
Another advantage to using a stage name, like with a character pointed out above, is it does make speaking about your act easier to describe in all the glorious details as to why you rock. In short, speaking about yourself in third person feels a lot less like bragging than speaking about yourself in the first.
Sometimes our personal names aren’t very attractive to the sight or the sound. My name by birth is Wayne. When pronounced it almost sounds nasally. I don’t like it, at least not as much in comparison to William which almost sounds regal when pronounced. In show business, one of the key concepts is “Sell”. Sell yourself, your act, your image, your voice, your character. Sell, sell, sell. From a marketing perspective a mysterious name like “Mordrid” or a dangerous name like “Slash” can draw attention to the act much easier than say Saul Hudson.
Personally, while I think full names are fine, One name acts or acts that can commonly be referred to by a single name I think has a more powerful effect on the mind so much as marketing, and brand identification is concerned. Single word names are easier to remember, and can convey with them powerful images associated with the act. For example, Angel, Penn, or Teller. Yes I know now days he goes by Criss, but there was a time in which he only used one word for a name.
Names can also, as briefly mentioned above, help define a character further, or add to the expectations from the audience to what the character may be like. Possibly even outlining their moral and ethical alignment in the story to be presented without ever having been exposed to that audience before.
Take for example the following list of names. Had you not know anything about them, how does their names make you feel? How do the names sound? What emotions do these names evoke in your minds eye? By name alone, these are powerful character without ever having stepped one foot onto the stage.
· Darth Vader
Of course these names are some of history and pop culture’s most remembered, revered, celebrated, or feared characters. Without knowing he was a dark lord of the Sith, a name like Vader conjures images of a concurred. And his full name Darth Vader sounds close to dark father, which in essence is exactly what this character is. Luke’s dark, and fallen father. You may not know who or what Maleficent is, but without knowing she is an evil fairy sorceress with the terrible power of turning herself into a giant fire breathing dragon, by her name alone you know you probably wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley. Like wise, the name Gabriel almost sounds good. Sure, he’s an angel, but without the images of those wings and that shiny halo, if given the option for dinner and a movie between him or Maleficent, you’d probably chose him. Just don’t order the lamb.
Names are nouns. A person, place, or thing. But names can also be so much more interesting when accompanied by an adjective! An adjective can add further definition of character, as well as set a standard for this characters behaviors. For an example let’s take a person, say his name is Geoffrey. Geoffrey likes to take risks, be adventurous, and often finds himself in dangerous situations that he somehow always manages to walk or crawl away from. Geoffrey likes to cultivate the “skater” image, and often visits the local skate park with friends for fun. Geoffrey wants to do a magic act. If you take his already daring personality, and add the adjective of “Indestructible” to his name, you get The Indestructible Jeff! (or Geoffrey) whose daring straitjacket escapes will confound and amaze you! That’s not only a stage name, but that’s a complete character! The name alone sets the stage for what you might expect from him. The character is just a redirection of the energy that flows so natural about himself as a person, his style, and his sense of self being. His personal image that he identifies himself as, a skater/ punk kid, plays well into his act, and if he selects the right kind of material, could have something to work with for years to come! He’s not being false, or untrue to himself, he’s just being himself amped up to the next (few) levels.
(To Be Continued...)
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