Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Who Are You? Tips On Finding Your Performance Character

I've seen a lot of magic. A lifetime of magic, to be exact.

And there's one common thread that I've seen. Every act that I feel is nearly 100% successful has a very solid, memorable character and personality basis for performances.

Now, I'm not saying that you have to dress up like a wizard or wear a pair of big clown glasses. That's not that kind of character that I'm talking about. What I'm referring to is the kind of personality that can be defined very quickly in a show or performance.

I'm thinking of people like Mac King, Dan Sperry, David Blaine, Jeff McBride, Cris Angel, David Copperfield. Whether you like their magic or not, you've got to admit that these magicians have nailed their onstage personalities. From the moment they begin to perform, you know EXACTLY who they are.

One of the serious upsides to having this much of a defined character is that it makes the process of finding material to fit "you" so much easier. Jeff McBride knows for sure that Forgetful Freddie isn't for him (unless he's going to put a serious metaphysical twist on it and that I'd love to see).

So, what are some ways for you to find and develop your onstage persona? I've put together some ideas for you... think of this as a mini character development workshop and use these questions and suggestions as a jumping off point to find the "stage you."

1. What is your offstage personality? What words do friends use to describe you? If you're generally a pretty funny, laid back and clever guy then maybe that's the way to go onstage. I've seen A LOT of performers who are incredibly personable and hysterical offstage go onstage and seem uncomfortable and stilted because they are trying to be something they're not.

Unless you are a great actor, maybe rooting your onstage personality with your offstage personality might be the way to go.

2. What are your performing strengths? Are you great at off the cuff comedy and on the spot one-liners? Are you better performing with no dialogue at all? Don't feel pressured to do it all. Your weaknesses are things that you can work on over time but you need a strong persona right now to get your show really solid and ready for some serious bookings.

3. Use music to your advantage! Make sure that your music enhances your personal style onstage and doesn't take away from it or distract from it. Popular music is, well... popular, in magic performances but sometimes it can distract from the show itself. If contemporary is going to be your style than popular music is a perfect fit, otherwise look elsewhere. Sometimes I like to find more obscure music that the audience might not have heard before and have no preconceived ideas or feels about.

4. The same thing goes for clothing. Please... if you are a husky guy, don't bother to try to pull off the torn up, skin tight jeans that some of your contemporaries might be wearing. Find your own way. Be comfortable. Consider lots of different costume options and, most importantly, be yourself. If it doesn't feel right, it probably doesn't look right either!

5. Finally, look at your performance as a whole. Consider your words, your music choices, your costumes, your assistants (or lack thereof!), your props (or lack thereof!) very seriously. These elements all combine to create "you."

All in all, the person that you present to your audiences might not be completely you... the real you. But a different version of you is easier to pull off than some crazy, way out of line persona. It's all about selling yourself to magic buyers. There are hundreds of options out there for people who want to book a magician for their party, cruise ship, corporate event or theatre. You have to be clear about the character that you are selling so that you can convince them why you're the man, or woman, for the job because they can only buy you from you.

I feel another blog post coming on!

*Photo credit - Mykl Roventine via Flickr Creative Commons

Friday, June 25, 2010

Magic Inspired Awesomeness

Greetings from the Great White North! I'm currently cruising through Alaska for the next few weeks and will be posting as my iPhone signal and the cruise internet signal allows.

Thought I'd share some of the awesome, magic themed, handmade pieces that I found online while waiting to board the ship yesterday. Who comes up with this awesome stuff?!

Houdini would be proud of this belt buckle bling made by Arete. $24.00

The color on these stone coasters from The Painted Lily is certainly eye catching and it's a really cool way to incorporate your love of magic into your living room without being a dork. $24.00

So, it's a little girly but it would be a great gift to say thanks to your wife for letting you display your vintage Zig Zag in the living room, have the guys over for all night jam sessions and shove her into boxes way to small for her body. It's really the least that you could do.
Made by Mama's Little Babies. $28.00

A card case featuring Kellar? Yes, please.
Sold by Sweetheart Sinner for $9.99

Ok, young Magic Juice readers... I'm not supporting drinking. Fill this rockin' flask from Stellar Custom Images responsibly so you don't wind up in handcuffs like Houdini. $32.00

It's worth a look around on Etsy.com to see what other amazing magic related pieces are available. I like to be a self employed performer supporting other independent artists. It's just good karma, people!

You'll hear more from me later, as long as I don't get eaten by a bear. ;)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chop Cup Move


I've done a lot of reading up on the chop cup and I haven't seen this vanish published anywhere. I had my friend, Bill Palmer (who is an aficionado on everything cup and ball) do a little research on it and he hadn't seen it either.

I don't want to tip the specific method here but, if you have any questions on it, please feel free to email me at alexander_magic@hotmail.com


Monday, June 21, 2010

A Welcome (from my crappy basement)

Hello and welcome to The Magic Juice! I figured I'd kick this off with a video post... enjoy! And be sure to follow me here for lots of cool magic links, ideas, brainstorming and funny stuff along the way.


The Art Of Being A Magician

So, you're a performing artist but is your show a work of art or is it slap dash concoction of random tricks?

It's an important thing to think about and one that might shift your whole thinking in regards to who you are as a performer, the flow of your show and how you connect with your audience.

You're not just a magician... at least, I hope you don't think so. Magic should be viewed as a time honored performing ART. Maybe we should begin viewing our performances as such.

Do you paint with a wide brush? A thin, detail brush? Is your work of art brightly colored or thick with the dark, brooding colors of emotion and passion?

Who are you as an artist? What are some of the keywords that could be used to describe your performing style? Are you the serious, withdrawn performer whose only goal is to enhance the mystery of life or are you the fun guy that anyone would love to hang out with? Maybe you fall somewhere in between.

Do all of the tricks that you select to perform fit within these character constraints? If not, how could the effects in your current repertoire be tweaked to fit this new view of "you?"

Does one effect flow into the next seamlessly or with a well thought out transition? This transition could be as simple as one line that ties one piece to the next. As long as it makes sense and isn't a jarring switch from one train of thought into another.

If your show is a work of art that speaks to who you are a performer, then it's important to think about what that show is really saying about you... who you are and what you stand for.

Just a little magical food for thought!

Photo Credit - John A Ward via Flickr Creative Commons