Chatter

September 2017 Chatter

Posted at 31/08/17 - 04:36 PM

I thought I would play the Devil’s Advocate with my blog this month by challenging one of magic’s well known truisms in order to see whether it stands up to argument and scrutiny.

It’s generally held that people who learn magic via a visual medium (e.g. DVD or online video content), are likely to switch off their imagination and instead to simply copy verbatim whatever they see the performer do on the screen. This will, experts say, lead to copy cat versions of the teaching performer.

However, it is asserted that those who learn from books, are more likely to interpret what they read in a more individual way and thus do not simply become a clone of the author. They will instead mould the tricks into something more personal.

While I can accept that both of the above suppositions may be true of some people, I would dispute the fact that it is an inescapable bi-product that no one can avoid when they learn either by video or reading.

After all, for a start, people may not exclusively learn new magic by only one means or the other. I know from my own experience that I have leant magic both from DVDs and also from books, and I don’t feel that either has had an impact on how I then go on to present the acquired magic.

It seems to me that it is more down to the character or experience of the magician himself, rather than the medium he chooses to learn by. Some people find it easier to absorb magic from books, others prefer to see it done. If you are someone who has little or no experience in magic, watching a proficient entertainer perform and then explain the modus operandi will help enormously to elucidate all the aspects needed to perform the trick. It’s all there in front of you.

However, an experienced entertainer may not need so much detail, as he will already know most of what is required and therefore just requires the essence of the method to be explained and he will then be able to understand what has to be done. In such a case, a few written words may suffice.

Magic beginners often have little or no performing personality, as this is something that tends to develop with time and practice. So, it is hardly surprising if at first they copy the presentational stance of the teacher they see on video. At least it gives them a start to creating something worth watching. The danger when newcomers learn from books is that they have no idea how to put across a magic trick in an entertaining way, and as a result they present magic boringly.

As you become more experienced and you present a larger number of shows, you start to understand what feels right to you and what plays well for your audiences. This leads to you creating, sometimes almost without realising it, a performing style and personality, and once this becomes established, you find yourself adapting every new trick to fit your unique model.

At that point it is irrelevant whether you come across a new trick visually or by reading, as it’s what you do with the knowledge afterwards that counts.

Author: Mark Leveridge magic@markleveridge.co.uk

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