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 Post subject: Coming Up With An Act
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 11:23 pm 
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So I have been doing strolling restaurant magic for a while. Now I am interested in maybe coming up with an act for perhaps street magic or to do a stage show. Where do I start? How do I put together a good act that will earn me some money? Any thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: Coming Up With An Act
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 12:07 am 
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First off think about what kind of "stage" type material you like. Go through a list of the kinds of effects that will play well for large audiences, then highlight the effects that most intrigue you. Looks at what kind of specialty that is and then start studying that field. For instance, do you like big illusions where the magician and / or assistant jump in a box and either get chopped in half or teleported across the theater? Do you like the idea of being locked in a milk can and miraculously escaping? Do you want to read the minds of everyone in the audience? Or do you just want to pull cute animals out of a hat and make kids laugh and smile? There really isn't such a thing as "stage magic" as a single entity. Think of three names that are huge in the magic world. Houdini, Copperfield, and Derren Brown. All excellent showman, all well known for their stage shows, yet one is an escape artist, one an illusionist, and one a mentalist.


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 Post subject: Re: Coming Up With An Act
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:09 pm 
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eostresh wrote:
First off think about what kind of "stage" type material you like. Go through a list of the kinds of effects that will play well for large audiences, then highlight the effects that most intrigue you. Looks at what kind of specialty that is and then start studying that field. For instance, do you like big illusions where the magician and / or assistant jump in a box and either get chopped in half or teleported across the theater? Do you like the idea of being locked in a milk can and miraculously escaping? Do you want to read the minds of everyone in the audience? Or do you just want to pull cute animals out of a hat and make kids laugh and smile? There really isn't such a thing as "stage magic" as a single entity. Think of three names that are huge in the magic world. Houdini, Copperfield, and Derren Brown. All excellent showman, all well known for their stage shows, yet one is an escape artist, one an illusionist, and one a mentalist.


Illusions appeal to me. However, I hear illusions are very expensive! Won't I need boatloads of money and be rich before I could dream of doing illusions on stage? Or are there cheap illusions I could buy or build or invent to incorporate into a stage act? As far as an assistant, I would assume that an assistant would cost money too. So how does a strolling magician like myself, who does not make a lot of money yet, get an illusion stage act together that is awesome and worth paying for AND that people find awesome, entertaining, baffling, mysterious and magical all rolled into one?

Perhaps Linking Rings is good for stage? I have never performed Linking Rings and I don't know how much the trick costs, but I would assume it's something that is relatively cheap and yet can be done on stage. Are there other tricks which don't cost boatloads of money and yet can still be done on stage and the audience would find mysterious and entertaining? I would also assume a stage magician would have to have some kind of script like an actor does.


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 Post subject: Re: Coming Up With An Act
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:32 pm 
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Andrew Mayne- Look into his stuff. The whole focus of much of his early work was making stage illusions that could be done DIY for less than $100. Ie. Bisection- DVD $30.00 materials you will need to create the gimmick-$30.00. So there is a DIY sawed in half for around $60.00. Most of his stuff is like that. The Ilusion plans will cost between $15-$30 and the materials you will need to get to construct the illusions will cost between $15-$50. Also, some of his illusions make great use of Haunted hands. A set of those might set you back up to $100 depending on where you buy and what quality manufacturer you get, but, as you will discover if you start studying Mayne's work, there are tons of applications for those guys.

Another thing to look into is a good set of Sub Trunk plans. If you can get an assistant, Metamorphosis is a classic illusion for both illusionists and escape artists. The Dixie Dooley Escapology DVD series(by penguin) teaches the original Houdini design, and I would recommend that series except that unless you are interested in escapology as a whole you'll be spending $100 for a bunch of stuff you don't need. There are other sub-trunk plans on the market ranging for around $20-$30.

So my recommendation is find some haunted hands...Penguin is out of stock but these are only $25... http://www.trickshopmagic.com/thirdhand.html

Then check out what Andrew Mayne has to offer.... http://www.penguinmagic.com/search.php?q=andrew+mayne

Finally do a search for some sub trunk plans.

All of these sources should just get you started in stage illusion. These effects will do fine when you are starting out but I wouldn't call them "Prime Time." If your ultimate dream is to have your own Illusion show in Vegas or Atlantic City then sooner or later you will have to start shelling out big bucks for big illusions. While you go through this process of getting started do two more things. Read all you can about illusions and their principles and get working on a compelling character. When you think about guys who really make it big on stage they generally have two things in common. They either are themselves very clever illusion creators or they hire and keep on staff a clever illusion designer. Second, they have a very distinct style and character that sets them apart from the rest. It is a whole lot more than just prancing on stage in a silk shirt and leather pants.


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 Post subject: Re: Coming Up With An Act
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:41 am 
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Joined: 03 Apr 2011
Posts: 32
eostresh wrote:
Andrew Mayne- Look into his stuff. The whole focus of much of his early work was making stage illusions that could be done DIY for less than $100. Ie. Bisection- DVD $30.00 materials you will need to create the gimmick-$30.00. So there is a DIY sawed in half for around $60.00. Most of his stuff is like that. The Ilusion plans will cost between $15-$30 and the materials you will need to get to construct the illusions will cost between $15-$50. Also, some of his illusions make great use of Haunted hands. A set of those might set you back up to $100 depending on where you buy and what quality manufacturer you get, but, as you will discover if you start studying Mayne's work, there are tons of applications for those guys.

Another thing to look into is a good set of Sub Trunk plans. If you can get an assistant, Metamorphosis is a classic illusion for both illusionists and escape artists. The Dixie Dooley Escapology DVD series(by penguin) teaches the original Houdini design, and I would recommend that series except that unless you are interested in escapology as a whole you'll be spending $100 for a bunch of stuff you don't need. There are other sub-trunk plans on the market ranging for around $20-$30.

So my recommendation is find some haunted hands...Penguin is out of stock but these are only $25... http://www.trickshopmagic.com/thirdhand.html

Then check out what Andrew Mayne has to offer.... http://www.penguinmagic.com/search.php?q=andrew+mayne

Finally do a search for some sub trunk plans.

All of these sources should just get you started in stage illusion. These effects will do fine when you are starting out but I wouldn't call them "Prime Time." If your ultimate dream is to have your own Illusion show in Vegas or Atlantic City then sooner or later you will have to start shelling out big bucks for big illusions. While you go through this process of getting started do two more things. Read all you can about illusions and their principles and get working on a compelling character. When you think about guys who really make it big on stage they generally have two things in common. They either are themselves very clever illusion creators or they hire and keep on staff a clever illusion designer. Second, they have a very distinct style and character that sets them apart from the rest. It is a whole lot more than just prancing on stage in a silk shirt and leather pants.


Thanks for the reply! The character I want to play is simply myself. That being said, it would seem to make sense to use comedy when playing myself as well as highlight perhaps the more dramatic aspects of myself.

Right now, I am reading and taking notes from the book "The Trick Brain" by Fitzkee. I am also reading and taking notes from his book "Showmanship For Magicians." What books would you suggest for somebody who is interested in creating his own illusions? I would like to invent my own illusions. I think ultimately success comes from putting yourself into your stage act from inventing the illusions yourself as much as you can to your character being yourself as well.

Another thing I am interested in. What is your take on Tarbell's illusions? Are any of them good? I own the entire 8 volume set of Tarbell. In addition, should I take some acting classes and learn how to write my own script?


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 Post subject: Re: Coming Up With An Act
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:44 am 
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Well for character it sounds as if you are on the right path. Basically take aspects of yourself that can be the most entertaining and exaggerate them for performance. (obviously don't exagerate them to the point of being obnoxious)

As for the stage illusion design...once you get past my recommendations you will have gone further than I ever did with it. My first stage performances were "illusions" and escapes and the Andrew Mayne and Dixie Dooley DVDs gave me plenty of material for a small venue stage act. (small venue stage acts I describe as between 100-200 people) Also they worked well for the level I was at. Benefit performances and or low paying jobs. The stuff where you are either giving the performance away for free for some sort of charity benifit, or shows where people are paying a small ticket price...like $5.00. That stuff could play well for higher paying gigs and larger venues but it really depends on how you present the show. My gut tells me that if you are charging $20-$30 per head for a 500+ seat theater you really need to invest in at least one really impressive illusion to close with. Just a hunch?

As for further reading, well that's about the point where my focus sort of switched to mentalism so I cannot help you as much. I can say that Hiding the Elephant is a great book. It is more of a historical reference than anything else but it does discuss the principles behind many of the classic stage illusions. Other than that you will need to start buying illusion plans(if you are handy with tools and can build your own stuff) or start searching for websites of illusion craftsman(if you need someone else to build the prop for you.)

You might want to redirect this question over to the stage forum. Perhaps someone with experience more specific to your needs can fill in the gaps I have left you with?

Cheers,


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 Post subject: Re: Coming Up With An Act
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:34 pm 
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Joined: 04 Feb 2006
Posts: 1038
Location: Ruby city next to the Emerald city. Bob is wearing the Emerald Sneakers.
Strolling_Magician wrote:
eostresh wrote:
First off think about what kind of "stage" type material you like. Go through a list of the kinds of effects that will play well for large audiences, then highlight the effects that most intrigue you. Looks at what kind of specialty that is and then start studying that field. For instance, do you like big illusions where the magician and / or assistant jump in a box and either get chopped in half or teleported across the theater? Do you like the idea of being locked in a milk can and miraculously escaping? Do you want to read the minds of everyone in the audience? Or do you just want to pull cute animals out of a hat and make kids laugh and smile? There really isn't such a thing as "stage magic" as a single entity. Think of three names that are huge in the magic world. Houdini, Copperfield, and Derren Brown. All excellent showman, all well known for their stage shows, yet one is an escape artist, one an illusionist, and one a mentalist.


Illusions appeal to me. However, I hear illusions are very expensive! Won't I need boatloads of money and be rich before I could dream of doing illusions on stage? Or are there cheap illusions I could buy or build or invent to incorporate into a stage act? As far as an assistant, I would assume that an assistant would cost money too. So how does a strolling magician like myself, who does not make a lot of money yet, get an illusion stage act together that is awesome and worth paying for AND that people find awesome, entertaining, baffling, mysterious and magical all rolled into one?

Perhaps Linking Rings is good for stage? I have never performed Linking Rings and I don't know how much the trick costs, but I would assume it's something that is relatively cheap and yet can be done on stage. Are there other tricks which don't cost boatloads of money and yet can still be done on stage and the audience would find mysterious and entertaining? I would also assume a stage magician would have to have some kind of script like an actor does.
Linking Rings can be cheap or expensive depending on the size and weight and where you purchased them. It's a good start and a lot of people like them. If you want to do illusions like said above me Andrew Mayne has a few and you can modify the shadow box to be less flimsy by using different materials. Yes illusions are expensive but I bought a Kub Zag for around 4,000 dollars but I had a day job where I worked for it. Metamorphosis you can build or I bought one for only 500 dollars. The need assistants but some of Andrew Mayne's illusions will too. They cost money when you perform but IF it is what you want to do it will be worth it. I am getting a show ready and will have it in 2 years. I'll be out of college and have what I need. You may want to look into some quick changes. Also, JC Sum has some stuff to look at. I suggest you DON'T build illusions but get them professionally made but that is JUST a suggestion. It's cheaper to build but can sometimes also look cheaper. Lastly I say get a stand up routine you can do on stage (ropes, linking rings, vanishing milk, dove pan, etc...) and use card tricks with a camera and a big screen on stage.
It only takes you to perform and get that as a stage show and make money from that and put that into getting illusions.


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 Post subject: Re: Coming Up With An Act
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:37 pm 
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Location: Ruby city next to the Emerald city. Bob is wearing the Emerald Sneakers.
eostresh wrote:
Another thing to look into is a good set of Sub Trunk plans. If you can get an assistant, Metamorphosis is a classic illusion for both illusionists and escape artists. The Dixie Dooley Escapology DVD series(by penguin) teaches the original Houdini design, and I would recommend that series except that unless you are interested in escapology as a whole you'll be spending $100 for a bunch of stuff you don't need. There are other sub-trunk plans on the market ranging for around $20-$30.
Escapes are GREAT and the Escapology DVD series is great. Use some of those in your show. There is something in every dvd that you can use. Get a straight jacket and do that in the show as well. Plays big and packs flat. I don't like his metamorphosis compared to the one I bought or the plans most sell. The method isn't as good for me BUT you may like it. You may want to wait like I did and get the Escapology set free during a penguin promotion (if they still do that) but best thing for escapes.
So my recommendation is find some haunted hands...Penguin is out of stock but these are only $25... http://www.trickshopmagic.com/thirdhand.html



Finally do a search for some sub trunk plans.


Escapes are good to do as well. Magic and escapes go hand in hand. I suggest doing three escapes at most but a strait jacket is great and that DVD set is great. I suggest waiting for them to give it away in a promotion (IF they still do) if not I would still get it. The Metamorphosis isn't the best on the DVD but I have one I like which is the one most people do.


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 Post subject: Re: Coming Up With An Act
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:52 pm 
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Joined: 27 Jun 2011
Posts: 131
Location: Philippines
If you want to try linking rings get a set of 8 and learn Dai Vernon's Symphony of the Rings. It was the first (and so far only) routine I've learned. It's a pretty cool routine.

I can't vouch for the quality of these rings but the description is a good set. And I really like 10" rings. ~Edit~ I forgot the link: http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/S7325

As far as characters go, not considering the magic - just the character my favorite is Harry the Hat, my least favorite Chris Angel. Harry the Hat is Harry Andersons con man character that doesn't believe in magic. While he tells you how fake it is he does some pretty impressive stuff. Being a con man he has a reason to carry a big bag with him onstage. All his props are in the bag. Now he is not an illusionist but is a very well defined character. And he does say you MUST script your entire act.


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