• How can I be a better magician? Pt. 6 - 5 1/2 steps to create your persona

  • January 06, 2020

  • Every magician, or at least every great magician, has a persona, or a character that they adopt when they walk out in front of their audience. This is, in fact, true of all performers, bar those who never take the time to create a persona and those who make their on, and off stage, persona’s one and the same.

    Creating a character can make everything you do as a performer and as a magician so much easier and is definitely a worthwhile use of your time. It is not a quick process though, and its one I still do from time to time as both myself and my character grow. So to help you try and figure out your persona, here is a short introduction to the process!

    1) Look at yourself first

    By this I mean, consider what your likes and dislikes are, how do you naturally carry yourself, what’s your posture, how do you talk, what’s your dress sense? My advice here is to grab a piece of paper and just throw down anything that comes to mind and take a good long look at who you are. Understanding who and where you are will mean you have an easier time of figuring out the character you want to create, and how to get there. Focus on two main aspects, your back story (how you got to where you are now) and who you are now (personality/characteristics and mannerisms).

    2) Choose three celebrities/characters you would like to emulate

    ‘Three’ is always the magic number in magic, and here is no different. Listing three other persona’s you know will help as a reference as you build your character, and you don’t have to take everything from them, pick and choose which parts of them you like. I, for example, use Ryan Reynolds, The Artful Dodger and Puck (from a Midsummer's Night Dream!).

    3) Are you going to be a Killer, a Victim or a Witness

    Don’t worry; this will make sense in a second! You see, in magic, as the performer, you can take on one of three major archetypes when you a portraying your character. You can be the Killer, who creates the magic, the Victim to the magic, or a witness to the magic as it happens. Whichever you choose, be sure that it blends well with the type of characteristics found across your three celebrities.  

    4) What is your character’s back story?

    Now is the time to flesh out your character. Where did they grow up, what’s their family like, their education, pets, best friends, school, and jobs? How did magic come to be a part of their life, if they’re a Killer, did they learn the skills through trial and error, or did they find a tome that taught them? The more detail you can add here, the more real your character will become and the more easily you will be able to “step into” them.

    i. What are your character’s characteristics?

    This is an extension on the previous step, but now looking more at your character as they are today. How do they walk, why do they walk that way? Are they confident or shy? What sort of personality do they have, how do they talk? Compare this to the notes you made about yourself at the first step as it might help with a bit of inspiration about what to write, but also about what else you might need to consider about yourself.

    5) What is your character’s outfit going to be?

    Well done, you’ve made it to the final step. Well, at least in this abridged version! But now that you have your fleshed-out character, you know where they’ve come from and who they are, the last question to ask, is what would they wear? Are they more comfortable looking like an over the top millennial hipster? Or perhaps they would never be seen dead in anything but a three-piece suit and a top hat.

     

    So now you have a character of your own creation. The job isn’t over yet though I’m afraid. As with learning a magical effect, it is never really finished. As performers who strive to be the best we can be, we are always looking to improve and deepen our characters. As they become more real to us, our audience will have an easier time believing them, suspending their disbelief and embracing the stories we tell, without thinking about the performer behind the character, choosing instead (subconsciously or otherwise) to go along with the show.

    This is just a quick introduction to creating your character, so don’t take this list as the be-all and end-all. Take some time, invest in your character and you will reap nothing but rewards.

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