Stage Magic, Why It Matters

Conjurer's Coffee Break - Episode 023


- Hello, and welcome back to another episode. I've had a bit of a break from recording these, but I'm back into the swing of things now.

- This is one of those episodes that I had a title for, but I wasn't sure what the exact content was going to be until it rolled around on my schedule, but here it is, and today I'm going to be talking about magic on stage, or rather just group performances in general.

- I know that a lot of people listening to this podcast are going to be focused mainly on close up magic, and especially for beginner magicians it's easier isn't it to stick to performing a few routines for friends and family at home, at parties, at the bar or something like that.

- But I would encourage you to step out of your comfort zone a little. I think that learning the skills of stage magic are important for everyone. You might not be hiring out your local theatre and selling 300 tickets, but you might be part of a variety show fundraiser or something like that, and even if you're not, just learning some of the skills of stage magic, I think will make you a better performer. Yes, even a better close up performer.

- When I started out in magic, I was told that if you learn how to put on a show, you will always be in demand. That's part of the reason why I have previously done a lot of children's magic shows. I'm moving away from some of that now, but it gave me the opportunity to stand up in front of a group of people (yes, 30 children plus parents), but it is still a group of people all facing the same way, waiting for me to entertain them with magic.

- What that has given me first off is the confidence to talk to a larger group of people. I've spoken in a previous episode about finding ways to improve your confidence and with magic the best way is to perform a lot. Anywhere and everywhere!

- It's also taught me how to structure a show. What makes a good opening routine, a good closing routine? How and when do I want the audience to help out. All of that ties into making a great close up magic set too.

- I have also performed a lot of close up magic, but that show experience has helped my close up. One way for example, are the times when I'm performing to seven or eight people at a walkaround event, or ten or twelve people at a dinner table. That's almost like a larger group performance and in those situations, I take a step back, I hold the props up so that people can see them, my gestures become larger and I try to control the attention of the whole audience rather than interacting in a perhaps more conversational way, a more personal way that I might do with one or two people. I often think of it as a break out show.

- Performing for groups on stage or in a parlour setting also helps you with blocking (in other words, where to stand), but also how to stand, how to present props, how to invite audience members to help out and then when they leave to bring the focus back to you. These are all vital skills, that will allow you to appear more professional rather than just someone who wanders into an event and knows a few tricks.

- This is after all the business of controlling peoples perceptions.

- One thing that I was going to add about stage magic, is that it forces you to come up with your own scripts and routines, but having thought about it today, I want to backtrack on that. I've seen plenty of magicians performing magic in a parlour or small stage setting who are still using stock lines, or simply rehashing the script that came with the trick. The classic example, of course, is the old old old really old vanishing bandana.

- A hack magician is always a hack magician.

- I'm going to be talking more about tricks and performance in a future episode but one thing a group performance does give you is more control. There won't be any interruptions like there are with walkaround close up magic, and that means you have the perfect opportunity to write your own material. Another topic we'll be talking about shortly.

- Don't waste that opportunity by just using the standard script as everyone else. Instead, as I always say, people are more interested in people than things, so take some time now to think about what you want your audience to think about you. What do you want them to take away from your performance?

- That's another skill that you can also tie into close up magic.

- I might be biased because I enjoy parlour and stage magic, but I genuinely think it's worth learning how to perform for larger groups, even if you think you'll only ever do close up. It's why when I work with magic students, I always include some lessons using props designed for stage.

- You know, it's often said that if you want to be an illusionist, you should start with large prop magic, like the square circle or some other sort of illusionette. I think that's great advice, but I also think those skills carry down into close up magic.

- So, what are you waiting for? Is there an opportunity for you to perform on a larger scale? Can you perform for instance in a local talent competition, or at an open mic night, or even just for some friends gathered around and say down like a show. Whether it's "grand close up" a parlour show or a street show, you'll find that these skills will come in useful for you.

- I hope that's been useful to you and offered some jumping off points for you to start thinking about, or even disagreeing with me about.

- As ever you can leave your comments on the blog post that accompanies this episode and find every episode at

- Don't forget to share the podcast with friends, subscribe if you want to and come back next week, for another episode.

- Until then, thanks for listening.

Additional Show Notes

- As mentioned in the podcast I think stage magic is important as it gives you a whole range of skills. It can help to improve your confidence, help you to learn how to put on a show, give you a broader understanding of magic and magic techniques, and also give you the flexibility to perform to a larger group, should you be asked to in the future.

- One tip that I forgot to include was that if you have a larger group trick that you want to practice, but you don't have a stage to do it on, one thing I have done in the past is say to my close up magic clients, would you like me to do a 15 minute performance to the whole group at the end? They get a free extra performance that rounds off your entertainment, and you get to practice your slightly larger trick. I've done this several times with new routines. Of course, there's a limit, you probably can't do your stage illusion at a house party, but there are some things you can try to work in.

Related podcasts

- Episode 004 - Can you learn confidence?
- Episode 024 - Tech for magicians
- Episode - Writing your own material [link to come]

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