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CONTENTS

MISDIRECTION AND DIRECTION

2 Introduction 2 3 The Importance of Misdirection 3


3 Visual Noise 3 4 Openness, and the Open Position 4

6 Coordination of Actions and the Priority of Movements 6


8 Economy of Motion 8

9 Active and Relaxed States 9 11 The Natural Off-Beat 11

Keys to the Amplification of the Magic Effect

12 Creating the Off-Beat 12 13 Regaining Attention 1 3 14 The Eyes 14

15 Verbal Misdirection 15
1 6 Naturalness 1 6 17 Directing Audience Attention 17 18 Principals Elements 1 8
20 The Prime Focus: The Remembered Effect 20

21 Final Words 21

GARY KURTZ
Entire contents Copyright 1989 by Gary Kurtz All Rights Reserved

INTRODUCTION WHY ANOTHER WRITTEN TREATISE ON THE ART OF MISDIRECTION?

THE IMPORTANCE OF MISDIRECTION

"Ihave a secret assistant...Her name is Miss Direction" -John Ramsey


Misdirection/direction plays a major role in elevating the magician from trickster to magician. Personally, I almost never do a move without misdirection, even though I am technically quite competent. The reason for this is that, in the words of Erdnase: '"Not only shouldn't they see anything, they shouldn't suspicion anything." For me then, misdirection is not just a cover for the moves, but a precaution against suspicion, to keep suspicion from ever entering the audience's minds. Only when there is no trace of suspicion can there be a suspension of disbelief. Only when there is a suspension of disbelief, can there be magic. Ah, where to begin?
Vlsual Noise Visual noise is a fairly self-explanatory phrase: Its tiring, and even annoying, to watch: A performer who gestures wildly, as he shifls his body weight from foot to foot, constantly shuffling and riffling his deck of cards as he talks a blue streak. It creates confusion, and, it can be detrimental to the proper set-up and execution of misdirectiveidirective actions: With a performer constantly on the move, the audience doesn't know what to watch: Should they be watching your hands to make sure you're not doing something funny? Or should they, as social humans do by instinct. look at you when you're talking? Its our responsibility to make our work as easy as possible for our audience to watch and enjoy; to let them know what is important and what is unimportant.

First of all, because I feel misdirection and direction of attention are major skills of the magician's craft, skills which unfortunately are oflen understood only a superficial level (if not completely misunderstood). Misdirection has nothing to do wlth distraction. It has everything to do with and dlrectlng Secondly, it has been my experience in studying other performance arts, that one teacher may repeatedly tell you something and you might still fail to grasp the concept. Another teacher might then tell you the same things in a slightly different way, and it can lead to a revelation, a sudden understanding of the principles involved. I'm hoping then, that the way in which I articulatethings might lead you t o a deeper understanding of our art. Lastly, part of the emphasis in this manuscript is on the two-fold purpose of being able to manipulate the audience's attention: Mlsdlrectlon alds in deceptlon. Direction draws altentlon to Important elements. All the techniques put together give you the tools to control and manipulate what you want the audience to see.
For me, this has proved to be far more satisfying and useful than competence in manipulative technique alone. As in all the other arts. physical techniques are only the first part of being an artist.
To control your audience's attention. perception and memory of

what they've seen- now those are the real techniques of magic.

You can be an extremely energetic performer, and still be in perfect control.

OPENNESS AND THE OPEN POSITION


What I refer to as the Open Position is one where the audience can see, in their peripheral vision, all of the elements in play, and they can see that everything is fair and above board. Example: When performing card magic, hold the deck loosely in your mofionless, extended hand when you talk. This way you can talk to the audience without their attention being split between you and what your hands are doing. You can still be very animated with your free hand, face and voice, just don'f be constantly riffling and shuffling the cards. My suggestion is that you handle your props well away from your body, vefy openly, and with as little movement as possible .so they distract attention away from you.

Very openly (hands well toward towards him) perform a double turn-over, showing an indifferent card on top of the deck: "Well, one thing's for sure...lfs not on fop, righf? Repeat the double ..." turn-over and hold the deck loosely on your extended and motionless left palm as you perform your magic gesture over the cards. With all attention on the cards, turn over the top card to show the selection has risen to the top.
The effect you'll gel out of this handling is much stronger than if you held the deck lightly in your hand with your elbows pressed into your sides and the deck two inches from your stomach

The second move is Vernon's Tilt: Move close to a person on your right, displaying the selection at your right fingertips. Perform Tilt, with the express intent of showing her that the card goes into the middle: "Watch. The 5C...lnfo the centre of the deck...." Relax your left hand, moving it forward into an Open Position, with her looking at it from behind: "You saw fhe card go in, yes?...."
I this case. you involve one spectator specifically. She n verifies for everyone. the truth of what you say

What I call Openness refers to an attitude of performing everything as openly and cleanly as possible; showing them through words and actions that you're going out of your way to be fair and that you're not cheafing on them. Example: Slvdini's Knotted Silks. The spectator's themselves tiethe knots. Tony tugs on them, and asks "O.K? O.K? He goes out of his way to make sure that the spectators are a hundred percent satisfied that the silks are tied. Then the magic happens! A more detailed example: An Ambitious Card routine. The spectator replaces his card into the fanned deck. In closing the fan, sidesteal the card into your right hand (the Eyes, and the Name as misdirection): "Now at this point, Steven......" . In bringing the deck up to the left fingertips, in front of the spectator's eyes (because you want to be as fair as possible): The palmed card is replaced on top: "...how far down from the top of the deck would you say your card is?" He gives his response, convincing himself.

Perform a double lift to show the card is back on top: "And yet if still comes back to the fop..." "One lasf time..." Pick up the double card and bring it to the right edge of the deck, in preparation for the turn-over. Draw attention to it: "..The 5C ..." Deliberately, flip it over, take the top card and move your left hand forward. so several people are seeing the deck from behind. Insert the card into the centre of the deck (supposedly the same actions you performed the last time). Very openly push the card in. They see everything from all sides: "../fit0 the centre of the deck ....Yes? Yes?..."
Here, everyone verily the truth of your slatemenls

Perform your magic gesture, then turn over the top card: sfill i f comes ....to fhe fop."

'%lo'

The above examples illustrate how, by adopting an of Openness (doing nothing different technically), you can greatly amplifv the effect on the spectators.

Most moves which require misdirection take only a split second


to perform. The rest of the time vou should be in an Open

___ Position. They miss a few details. but they don't know it. All they
remember is that you went out of your way to be fair and above board. How's that for a lasting impression?

COORDINATION

OF ACTIONS, AND THE PRlORlPl OF


MOVEMENTS

A simple example: A billiard ball steal. The right hand already has a ball palmed. Reach forward with your right hand and produce the palmed ball at your fingertips (twisting your body slightly to the left); simultaneous drop your left hand to your side> both actions starting and stopping at exact/y the same time. The instant the ball appears at your right fingertips is the instant you steal the ball from the holder with your left hand.
Toss the ball into the air, moving the left hand back to its original position as the ball goes up. Catch the ball, and go into a flourishy roll of the ball between your extended index fingers.
Properly coordinated and timed, the viewer will be completely unaware that the left hand dropped to your side. The primary actions also make for a good effect.

The human eye is attracted by motion. Simple fact. But, the human eye can really only focus on one movement at a time. Using the principle of the Coordination of Actions one action (secondary) can pass unnoticed in the shadow of another action (primaty) The basis of this principle (first verbalized by Tony Slydini) is that both actions begin and stop at exactly the same time. The other element lies in the choice of primary and secondary actions. Examples of the Priority of Movements: I - A hand moving fotwsrd will take precedence over a hand relaxing back. 2-A hand rising will attract more attention than a hand dropping down to your side. 3-Any action which is active will command more attention than an action which is passive. 4-Any action which you invest wlth Importance will take precedence over an action which you do automatically, without thinking. 5-Additionally, anything colourful, flashy, well 1 1 will draw more 1. attention that something commonplace and seemly unimportant.

A more extravaqant example: Chanainq a woman into a The cage is centre stage, there are steps leading up to it. The assistant climbs up the stairs, and enters the cage. A large colourful cloth is pulled down over the front of the cage. Two performers spin the cage forward into a brightly lit spotlight right at the edge of the stage as another assistant quietly pulls the stairs (the supposedly-caged assistant now hidden inside) back into the dimly lit upstage area, and offstage. There's a flash of fire over the cage and the cloth is pulled off, revealing that the woman has changed into a tiger right in front of the audience's noses
The audience completely forgets there were ever stairs o r another assistant involved. The transformation. and final display position (applause cue), happens right up close to the audience.

A more complex example You've just palmed the four Aces from the bottom of the deck into your left hand and want to produce them from your pocket. Your right hand moves forward to hand the deck to a spectator as your left hand relaxes to your side: "Here, give the cards a shuffle... "
If you dropped your left hand to your side. and then moved your right hand forward. you'd have two noticeable actions

These are basic principles of theatrical staging, which can be used for clandestine, as well as overl actions.

Your right hand rises in a palm out gesture, bringing all eyes up with it: "Oh. wait ...." Open the right side of your jacket and look inside, as you bring your left hand to your hip.
Opening your jacket and looking in creates interest. far more engaging than the left hand's small movement.

ACTIVE AND RELAXED STATES


When you relax, your audience relaxes. This is were body language and stage presence play a major role. This ties in with Staging and The Prjority of Movemerits I've already discussed. If you look at the examples I gave then you'll notice that aside from the directions I mentioned there was also an energy specification (eg: A hand moving forward takes precedence over a hand relaxing back). Slydini's postures are a great example of this principle {though restricted to close-up magic seated at a table, and too exaggerated for anyone other than Tony}. Takea look at pictures of Slydini in action. You'll see how his whole body directs attention to the point he's looking at. Look at a hockey player in position for a face off. See how his whole being is focused on a single objective. Performing stand-up: Move closer to the audience, lean forward slightly, gesture with your hands well forward, and project strongly forward (or in the direction you want attention to go). Active phvsicality creates tension/attention> < Relax that tension and you relax attention. Look at Slydini's rest positions for examples of this. If you perform standing: Exhale. Relax. Take a step back. Let your shoulders and chest sink a bit. Relax your stage presence. With your fluctuation between active and relaxed states, between tension and relaxation, there will be a svmpathetic reaction in the audience. Audiences will intuitively sense and react to your actions, without really being aware of it. Whenever, possible I try to structure my work so all moves are done on a relaxation, in coordination with one or more of the other techniques describes in this booklet.

Look up at the audience as you reach your left hand into your inside pocket, closing the jacket slightly around the hand as you do. "You may want to..." Reopen your jacket and look down as your left hand pulls the cards from your pocket. Display them in both hands, chest height and fotward in front of you: "...mixthese in there too..." A little more effective than simply diving your hand into your pocket, wouldn't you say? The final display uses the same staging principles (forward and high) to create a strong final display position.

Movement and strona staqinq attract attention. The Coordination of Actions allows you to make secondary actions invisible. For evew action there is a balanced and opposite reaction. For every movement you want to pass unnoticed, all you have to do is find a stronger action to counterbalance it. The challenge is to find a primary actlon which Is logical and motlvated. Economy of Motion Simplicity is the ultimate goal. Anytime you can eliminate somethlng extraneous, do so. Sometimes, its not so much eliminating moves that you do, its a question of simplifying what the audience perceives and remembers that you did. What we are doing may be extremely complex. Misdirection, direction and the Coordination of Actions can be invaluable in simplifying which actions the audience see and remember. The examples given under the last section already demonstrate this. Several actions were made imperceptible, primarily to aid deception, but, they also simplified the effects because the audience was unaware of half the things which were going on.

If you do a move on an off-beat relaxation it has to be done in a relaxed fashion. in transition from active to relaxed state, or the instant you reach the final relaxed state. Audiences pick up on discrepancies (eg: If your body is relaxed and your shoulder tense because you're palming something, chances are someone will sense that something is amiss, and become suspicious).
ExamDle The One Hand Top Palm and subsequent Flash Fold of a card supposedly placed into the centre of the deck. Lean forward to the spectator (deck held in preparation for Top Palm), and point to the centre of the deck: "The card in the middle of the deck, yes?" Keep your weight forward, the deck forward (open position): "But you're not going to be satisfied until l let you shuffle fhe cards, are you?....That's what l was afraid of!":

THE NATURAL OFF-BEAT


You have a natural off-beat whenever the audience is reacting in surprise to a magical occurrence, laughing at a joke, or relaxing because they think a trick is over. Their attention lulls momentarily as their mental wheels spin, and then get back on track; or their mind relaxes after a build-up of tension.

This is the misdirection for the final loads in the Cups and Balls (the surprise reappearance of the small balls under the cups creating the moment in which you can load the oranges), or Blackstone Sr. walking a donkey on stage under cover of all the wondrous things being produced from a barrel hanging above the stage; its Slydini retrieving the coin from his lap during the momentary surprise created by its disappearance.

As you begin the last line, lean forward to address the rest of the audience, both hands gesturing forward. As you get to the last word, relax your entire body, and drop your hands to waist level as you execute the palm.
Immediately take the deck at your left fingertips and actively hand it to her, letting your right hand drop to your side (coordination of actions). Take a few steps back, miming the action of an overhand shuffle (back of your right hand towards the audience): "Go ahead fhen...Shuffle, shuffle.._ _ " Walk close to another spectator, making comments on the shuffling technique/crossing your hands behind your back/letting your body slump slightly. After a moment, to her: 'Might, l won't even watch...." Close your eyes and turn your head aside. Peak at her from the corner of your eye occasionally. You'll have lots of time to fold the card behind your back.
The palming action is an example of B split second relaxation The eaended relaxed poshlre (for the fold) works together with anention being directed away from you^ in this case. to the spectator shuffling

I'm an ardent practitioner of improvisational magic, and it is in improvisation that you can take advantage of the off-beat again and again.When you don't have a planned series of actions you can take full advantage of them when their attention is down. You strike. When they're recovering their balance, you're preparing for the next punch. They recover, you strike again. The only way to develop a finely tuned sense of the off-beat is by performing. and feellntl your audience's attention on you at all times. Like comic timing, you have to feel your audience out, and sense the natural fluctuations. After a while you'll know, like a comedian knows in advance how an audience will most likely react, when the natural off-beat will occur, and how long it will last. Obviously, certain things will get a stronger reaction, and thus give you a strongerllonger off-beat.

Armed with this knowledge, you'll then be able incorporate the natural off-beat into the structure of a routine you're working on, or use 11to eliminate weakness in an already existence routine

THE NATURAL OFF-BEAT


You have a natural off-beat whenever the audience is reacting in surprise to a magical occurrence. laughing at a joke, or relaxing because they think a trick is over. Their attention lulls momentarily as their mental wheels spin, and then get back on track; or their mind relaxes after a build-up of tension.

CREATING THE OFF-BEAT


There are endless ways to create an off-beat. All of them a question of creating interest and tension, then relaxing that tension to create an off-beat (sound familiar). This works hand in hand with Active and Relaxed States, except here the emphasis is on psychological rather that physical means. The Francis Carlyle Card to Pocket is a perfect example of this: The signed card (which you've secretly glimpsed) is on top of the deck and an indifferent card is in your pocket. After explaining that you have made the card appear in your pocket, you cleanly show your hand empty, then pull the odd card halfway from your pocket, miscalling it as the selection. Off-beat. You palm the selection during the relaxation, then pull it from you pocket: ' h d that was how you signed your name on it wasn't it?"
You've created lhe pefiect moment to palm the card. when k they think i already in your pocket.

This is the misdirection for the final loads in the Cups and Balls (the surprise reappearance of the small balls under the cups creating the moment in which you can load the oranges), or Blackstone Sr. walking a donkey on stage under cover of all the wondrous things being produced from a barrel hanging above the stage; its Slydini retrieving the coin from his lap during the momentary surprise created by its disappearance.

I'm an ardent practitioner of improvisational magic, and it is in improvisation that you can take advantage of the off-beat again and again.When you don't have a planned series of actions you can take full advantage of them when their attention is down. You strike. When they're recovering their balance, you're preparing for the next punch. They recover, you strike again. The only way to develop a finely tuned sense of the off-beat is by performing. and your audience's attention on you at all times. Like comic timing, you have to feel your audience out, and sense the natural fluctuations. After a while you'll know, like a comedian knows in advance how an audience will most likely react, when the natural off-beat will occur, and how long it will last. Obviously, certain things will get a stronger reaction, and thus give you a strongerllonger off-beat.

Another example Palming a card during my routine Special Delivery. '#At this point you may be expecting me to find your card, right?": Leaning forward (active), with the deck in an Open Position. "Well, I'm not going to....":Takea step back (relaxation), palming the card. The right hand rises with the deck, the left hand drops to your side (coordination). As I drop the deck to the table: "I don't have to find the card..." Shifting attention to a spectator on my left: "...Because Steve has an envelope....the contents of which will, hopefully, identify your card....."
Expectations me created by the initialstatement and posture. and men relaxed when you tell them you're not going to find their card anyway. Shifting anention to a s~ectalorwho's been holding en envelope throughout further relaxes stlention on you

Armed with this knowledge, you'll then be able incorporate the natural off-beat into the structure of a routine you're working on, or use it to eliminate weakness in an already existence routine.

One of John Ramsey's favourite techniques for creating the moment was to create suspicion. and then dispel it. The audience's surprisethat their suspicions were unfounded, created the moment he needed to do the move for real.

A M . or funny line is about the best way to create an off-beat relaxation. Need misdirection? Try and think of something funny to say just before the crucial moment.
The major concern in creating an off-beat is the question of motivation; creating a situation which logically fits into the effect you are performing, and suits your performance style. This is where your work lies. REGAINING ATTENTION Ideally. you don't want your audience to be aware that their attention waned for an instant. You want to get their attention back, with everything appearing to be as it was before their attention lapse (something I already mentioned when discussing Openness). On another level, as in comedy, you don't deliver your next line until the audience is finished laughing at the previous one. Otherwise they'll miss the new line. At the same time, you don't yait until the laughter has died down completely n either. You wan) to stay O a roll.
So, you control their attention to bring it back when it best suits you and the rhythm of the performance.

establishingan Open Position immediately afterwards (hand; well separated). Move the card well forward: "It was?" Focus all attention on the card as you snap it: '"That's right, i t was ..." Dramatically turn the card face up: "...lt isn't any more!"
You now have another on-beat to perform your next secret move, be it another Top Change, B palm. whatever.

The first example illustrates how you can regain attention with a continuation of an action, the second, how you reveal the nefl climax from an Open Position.
Its to your advantage to use psychological convincers to reinforce the idea that all is as it was before the attention lapse, whenever possible. Using mime simulation, miscalling cards, having the spectator verify the supposed situation, or using audible illusions can all reinforce those ideas, giving you a time delay between when the move was actually done, and when the . ' . & J,&% magic supposedly hap=.

THE EYES
"When you want the audience to look at something, look at it yourself. When you want them to look at you, look at them..." -John Ramsey Simple enough on the surface. From the beginning of your performance you have to establish and then maintain strong eye contact with your audience. Otherwise, how can you expect them to look at you, when you look at them. Another point is that the human eye takes time to focus and registe;som&ing&e're not talking about sitting=ess in front~ofa video screen, we're talking about live performance where the eye has to focus on different depths of field). Be aware of how long it takes the eye to focus on one thing. Only after the viewer has fully focused on something, can you direct their attention elsewhere. You also need to give them time to shift their focus.

Example: A coin vanish. Under cover of the natural surprise of the production of a coin, you relax your hand a beat and sleeve it (or lap it). Raise your hand up to chest level again: "Look. Once again..." You deliver the "look quite emphatically, drawing attention back. Simulate tossing the coin into your lefl hand (ala Goshman). then mime the action of tossing the coin back and forth at your fingertips, the movements getting smaller and smaller until you freeze with the fingertips touching, then separate them showing the coin to have vanished again.
You now have the perfect offbeat l recover the sleeved coin. o

Another example: The Top Chanqe. You've just produced a card in a dramatic fashion. Look at it: "The 6H... That was your card, yes?" On "yes" you bring your eyes up to meet the spectator's, performing a Top Change (The Eyes),

Example: Rinq Fliqht Lets say you have the spectator's ring already attached to the cliplreel. Look down at the ring: "Very nice, very nice...." Looking up at the spectator, letting your hand relax to your waist: "You obviously trust me implicitly..." (releasing the ring so the reel pulls i f back into the key case). Bring your hand back up to continue examining the supposed ring: "..to have lent i f to me." Look up and smile at the spectator as you mime tossing the ring upwards into your left hand. Look back down at your hands (open position), as you make the ring vanish. VERBAL MISDIRECTION
Its culturally engrained in us to look at someone when they're talking to us. In coordination with the Eyes and everything else I've talked about so far, you can also directing attention to something else.

Interesting patter: I hate the word pafter, but anyway ... If what you're saying is interesting and entertaining, you'll have their full attention. Audience Involvement: This more or less ties in with the last point. The fact is, people are sometimes/often more interested in watching their friends react than they are in watching the entertainer. I take this as a plus, and try to involve as many members of my audience as possible (to varying degrees). Interaction is the key to a memorable performance. Its a plus that we canalso use it for other things.

Naturalness Like the sleight of hand moves we might perform, the audience can't ever be aware, or suspicious, that we are misdirecting them. "You just distracted us." is as bad a statement as "You had the coin hidden in your hand, I saw it." They don't have to know exactly how you distracted them (as far as they're concerned), they just have to think that's what you're doing, and they've found themselves an easy explanation of how you do your wonderful things. Any hope at suspension of disbelief is lost. Sad, but true.

To use Verbal misdirection to bring the eyes of the audience up and away from your hands, there are several tried and trusted methods: The name: Its human nature for us to respond to someone when they call us by name. We simply can't resist. Aside from its usage in misdirection, its simply good interpersonal relations to use a person's name as often as possible. Questlons: Asking someone is almost as good as using their name, especially if the question is "You sir, what's your name?" On another level, asking a question also occupies the spectator's 'mind momentarily, as he interprets, and then answer the question. Requests: Using a persons name, then asking then to do Something will also occupy their mind, as they interpret and then carry out your request. Depending on your request, they could be occupied for a long time.

PART TWO
DIRECTING AUDIENCE ATTENTION
Its a unique problem that magicians, as performers, are tied down to their props; having to share the stage with the magical occurrences.

the three coins at my right fingertips: "From here...." I shift my focus to my left hand as a coin appears at the fingertips: "...to here..." I look up at the audience as an applause cue, down at my hands a second (making sure they appreciate what just happened), then back up at them. Looking at the coin at the left fingertips: "That's the first coin Looking up: "...having gone across...*' Keeping the focus out, but gesturing with the coins in the right hand: "Leaving two to go..." Staring at the coins now: "...whichas you stare....become..." Shifting focus to the left hand as the that second coin appears there: '"..two went! ..." Look back up at the audience again, at the hands briefly, then back up to the audience.
I won't go on with the routine, but I think this should give you an indicatianof what I'm talking about. It also illustrates one of my principle interests in creating magic: to get close-up magic away from the table and up into the air, so the audience can clearly see you behind the magic.

Singers and comedians are on stage projecting out to their audiences all the time. They don't have to project outldirect attention to the coins appearing at their fingertipslrelate back to the audience again/focus attention back to the magic ....You don't want to be looking at your hands all the time, but at the same time you don't want to be looking at the audience all the time either (unless you're performing on a fairly large stage, and your name happens to be Lance Burton). If we don't draw attention to the magical occurrences, the effects may be weakened, or lost. The answer lies in analyzing your performance pieces to know when to look out. project, and relate to your audience: and when you need to direct attention to the magic in order to make it strong. Every instance is different. Every effect and type of effect has different demands. Its important to know what you want to the audience to see and remember as the effect. and direct attention to those elements. All other times, you should be concentrating on your audience, so they remember you.
Its a game of give and take

Often magicians are looking at their hands, directing attention to their actions when they shouldn't or needn't be, simply because they need to see what they're doing. What's so important about tying a knot in a rope, or giving the deck an overhand shuffle, or rolling a sheet of paper into a tube? If an action is unimportant to the effect, no sense calling attention to it. We have to direct attention to important elements of an effect. The rest of the time, we should be performers, concentrating on our relationship with our audience. THE PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS Part of evaluating what is important to an effect, is to consider the elements in play. For example: The coins which will vanish, the rope in the Cut and Restored Rope Trick, the Four Aces in the Four Ace Trick, the woman who changes into the tiger, the cage which will vanish under the scarf. These are the actors, so to

Example: FinaertiD Coins Across Without getting into any of the technique (which you can find in my book Unexplainable Acts), 1'11 run through my choices of focus during part of the routine. Looking down at the coins (because I want everyone to clearly see that I have only three coins): "Three silver dollars..."Looking up at the audience, gesturing with my right, then left hand: "...which will travel from one place to another..." I look intently at

speak. And there are main actors, and there are supporting actors. A play can be ruined by supporting actors who are upstaging the leads. In magic, we're in control. Make sure the Principal Elements get all the attention. Example: The Four Ace Trick The Aces are the Principal Elements, the rest of the indifferent cards are secondary (keeping track of four Aces is hard enough. Sixteen cards?). As you make the Aces vanish one by one, focus all attention on the Aces. (treating them separately, makes it even easier to follow). After the Aces are gone, completely forget about the indifferent cards. Example: The Vanishinq Bowl of Water The scarf used to cover the bowl is completely secondary. Cover the bowl with the scarf (flailing the scarf around and showing it both sides would only weaken the effect). Pick up the supposed bowl under the scarf, carrying it fomard (its a heavy bowl). A little water spills out from under the cloth (yes, the bowl is definitely there). You heave it up in the air, and flick the scarf aside as it descends. The bowl of wafer has disappeared. Examole: The Cups and Balls What better example? Three cups, three balls, a wand, two hands, and your pockets! The way I've dealt with this is to put full attention on what is happening to the balls. No fancy wand spins or juggling with the cups. By making the other elements secondary, the effect is made clearer and simpler. The wand is used to make the balls vanish, yes, but the whole emphasis is on the balls vanishing. The cups are where the balls appear, but its the balls which appear. It is the balls fhaf keep reappearing under the cups after they've been put into my pocket (no big deal made of the pocket). Its the balls they think will reappear under the cups, which change to oranges.

A final examDle Wouldn't it be much more effective for an illusionist to treat his boxes as completely secondary objects? Instead of the big hoopla about the glitzy painted box, much more focus should be put on the assistant who's going to vanish, or float, or whatever. With all attention placed on the important human element, the actual props would become secondary in the audience's minds.

__
The fewer the elements the audience has to follow, the better. There may be many of elements in play, but ...Consider what the most important elements are and see how you can focus all attention on them.

THE PRIME FOCUS: THE REMEMBERED EFFECT


What is the effect that you're demonstrating. What is t h e m and presentation In some cases it can simply be the magical happenings, objects disappearing, appearing, changing, levitating. But even here it would be nice to have some and r e a ~ ~ n the things for which happen. We have to create interest before we atart performing o-ur m&.-Sometimes you can get by with the strength of your personality alone. They'll watch you do magic because they like you. Even so, we have to create emotional hooks to get them involved. Before we can suspend an audience's disbelief, we have to aive them somethina to believe in. By focusing attention on issues outside of the actual props we're using, we can engage our audience's on another level. The trick then becomes the vehicle for whatever else is going on. I take the assumption that magic is inherently boring (not true- tricks perhaps, magic no), and then try to create a presentation which would interest them even if there wasn't magic. Add the magic (which is inherently interesting to people) and you have something with twice the interest built in.

In most of my card magic, I endeavour to make the fact that I'm using a pack of card almost forgettable. What people remember about Hypothetical Possibilities is that it was about going backwards and folwards in time. Another effect, they might remember that I told them when they were lying and when they were telling the truth. When Eugene Burger does his Haunted Pack, people want to believe in spirits. When Norm Nielson does his Floating Violin people want to believe it has a life of its own. When Kevin James presents The Thing, people really believe its a living decapitated arm. The plot's the thing. Another point worth mentioning is that, when an audience becomes enarossed in the p l o u e v relax their critical faculties and stop trying to figure things out.

The principles I've outlined can be applied to anything and everything you do, or might want to do. Unlike magic moves which have only specific applications, these are the base upon which our craft is founded. The question remains: Are you going to learn a few more moves, or learn principles which will make everything you do more effective and memorable? Everything is in the details, and the whole is comprised of many interwoven parts. Be aware of the whole when composing and refining details. See the forest as you paint the trees, the leaves. The result will be a helluva picture. Everything I've talked about is a means to an end. The principles are simply tools. Every solid structure- architectural, musical, theatrical- is build on a firm foundation. Once the foundation is there, you can build whatever you like on top. 1'11 leave that part to you.

If you have an effect which you think is strong, but doesn't get a good response, try defining and clarifying you Principal Elements (making it easier to follow), analyze exact/y what you want them to remember as the effect, and then make sure you have a good presentation (one which perk the audience's interest).

FINAL WORDS
Being able to manipulate an audience's attention without them being aware of it, is, as I mentioned already, a major skill for a performing magician. It gives you the means to stress important elements, to amplify the effect, and make the methods completely invisible. Every idea I've discussed within these pages is inseparable from every other. Many fit hand and hand, working together to ensure that you get the result you want. In some circumstances I'll use as many as four techniques simultaneous (I don't take any chances)

A performance is a living, breathing thing. The techniques in this booklet are part of that breathing apparatus.

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