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Thread: The Look

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  1. #1
    Shawn Mullins's Avatar :: Team Ellusionist
    :: Social kinda guy
    :: J. Kredible Dance Commander

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    Nov 2005

    The Look

    For anyone who has been on the forums for a while knows that I LOVE mentalism but don't perform it much (however, I use to). I like it, but I get my paycheck from performing magic. I typically find a way to toss in a few mentalist principles into performance and play with those ideas but I enjoy the separation of the two.

    Now my question is for everyone here, I don't care how long you have been performing etc.

    How many of you focus on BELIEVING in what you are doing?

    I commonly see people in both mentalism and magic just go through the motions but add very little through acting. It's a lot like how Houdini had mentioned that escaping a strait jacket wasn't difficult. What was difficult was making it look that it's near impossible.

    I think mentalism and magic should share this idea but yet I see a lot of people rushing to the finish. I recently watched a video of Luke Jermay performing a "muscle reading/pendulum reading" routine with ESP cards... 10 cards, a small ball on a chain and 10 minutes of entertainment.

    My question is, how often do you feel like you need to rush to the ending? Do you like to wait and build suspense?

    Personally, I think it's a mistake to go quickly and it doesn't have the same reaction.

    NOTE: The question was kind of brought on by a small pet-peeve (when people rush), while watching a performer earlier this week. He got an okay reaction because the trick itself was strong but it could have been SO much more to those people.

  2. #2
    Steerpike's Avatar :: Moderator
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    Aug 2005
    Zombietown, USA
    I disciplined myself in my busking days to wait. I actually counted the seconds in my head before the reveal and from there figured out the average ideal pause. In my case, given my style, pacing and material, I found that for smaller effects a pause of about 4-5 seconds works, and for heavier stuff a 10-12 second pause is better.

    As for acting, I'm not kidding when I say I've spent hours looking at pictures of wolves and practicing emulating their stare in a mirror. It's hard to duplicate that intensity without looking like a douche.
    Steel City's Magnificent Mentalist

  3. #3
    ChristopherThisse's Avatar :: Moderator
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    Aug 2008
    Fawn Grove, PA, USA
    One of the most significant pieces of advice I've gotten was from Paul Brook's "Alchemical Tools". He has a whole section on slowing down your presentations and filling them with feelings instead of barreling through them. He emphasizes the point by talking about how he does a presentation of Out Of This World that takes a half hour and is amazing.

    In my show - it's an hour long and I do 5 routines. The opener is 2 to 2.5 minutes. The rest are pretty evenly divided with the rest of the time. 7 minutes is pretty common for my routines.

    I have little trouble putting belief into my routines because most of what I do I genuinely believe in. Or, I am genuinely trying to do it. What I mean by that is that when I am doing a mind reading routine - I'm trying to read their mind for real. I guess you could say I'm a method actor?

    The HP Lovecraft of Bizarre Magic

  4. #4
    Registered User
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    Oct 2004
    Monterey, CA
    I can't give one set answer to this, but I just feel out the situation on a case by case basis. There is also something to account for in having the spectator dictate the pace. Let's say it's a card effect: The reveal is turning over the card. You can do it yourself and dictate the pace, turning it over slowly. I often like the spectator to take the card and turn it over so that I don't touch it. This adds to the effect, but they may just turn it over super quickly as well. It is really a matter of preference.
    I am, therefore...

  5. #5
    Raymond Singson's Avatar :: Lead Forum Manager
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    Sep 2002
    Philadelphia, PA
    On a similar note, I recently tried playing with the idea of maintaining silence during moments in presentation.

    I remember watching Blaine in his earliest specials where he would stay silent through the participants' reactions, and it just encouraged the responses to build and overflow with energy. I wanted to use silence to build tension during a revelation of a thought. There's one piece I perform where two participants read each other's minds. I stage these individuals on opposite sides of the stage. One holds any amount of fingers of one hand behind her back. The other removes a playing card from a deck and keeps it in his back pocket. Without a single word said, they divine one another's thoughts. I frame this theatrically and dramatically with PK touches and have the two participants face one another. I walk to the girl on stage right, place my hand to her forehead for a few moments, and then SLOOOWLY and SILENTLY walk from one end of the stage to the other, and place my hand to the guy's forehead for him to receive the thought. Not only does this build tension and drama, I believe it also gives a clarity to what is happening between two people.


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