• How can I be a better magician? Pt. 5 – 6 steps to create your first show

  • December 09, 2019

  • This was terrifying for me. Aside from the fact that I am close up magician by trade! My mentors pushed me into it though, saying it would be a parlour or grand cabaret show rather than stage magic per se; it would make for proper training. They were right, of course, but here is the advice I wish I had received in order to help improve my first stage show. I had put them in an order that I would have like to receive them when I was starting, but whatever order you choose to do them should be fine; hopefully, they can all provide some useful concepts though.


    1. Learn other magicians magic effects

    This is a bit of a given, as where else are you going to start, except by copying the greatest magical minds who came before you. Learn their effects, individually and as a routine. Practice and perform these until you an unrelentingly familiar with them, inside out and upside down.

    At this stage, you should be learning every bit of magic you can from every possible source you can find. You may not yet know what kind of magician you want to be, what style you most want to move towards, so experiment, find out which parts of magic you enjoy the most and then focus in on that.

    Don’t forget to look at other aspects as well in terms of whether you want to be doing your magic close up, parlour or stage. Maybe all three, but for now, just keep practising and performing where you can!


    2. Create your performing character/persona

    “Magicians are actors who play only one role.”

    Unlike other actors though, we get to create our role; so take some time to think about what kind of character you want to be when performing. You can be very similar to your real self, or you can go way out into the deep end and create an entirely new persona, with different mannerisms, movements and opinions to yourself.

    Both are incredibly effective, but only you will know what character will work best for you. Again, don’t feel you have to be locked into one style, feel free to change and experiment!

    3. Create a running list of effects you want to use in your show

    Now that you know what kind of magic you want to perform, in what sort of scale and what sort of setting, you will want to take things a bit further and create a running list. By this I mean a routine, or series of routines that are strung together to produce a complete show, with a beginning, middle and an end.


    4. Break every effect down into its component parts

    Write out every effect that is in your performance and separate the patter from the sleight of hand and/or use of props. This is also an excellent time to look at each effect and see what kind of magic it is, (levitation, teleportation, penetration, etc.).


    5. Look at the persona you created and the effects you’ve chosen

    Does it make sense that the person who will you be presenting to your audience performs those effects? If not, can they be rewritten, so they do?

    For example, my character is a sort of artful dodger type persona, and as such, mind-reading doesn’t make much sense, but being able to read someone’s poker face does fit.

    If an effect doesn’t fit, think about what would work; is there anything out there that you could incorporate instead?


    6. Look at your show and give it a theme

    This final step is the most important and easiest to overlook. You’ve put in a lot of work already, choosing effects, redesigning them and then blending them with your character and now you may have to redo the lot.

    It may seem odd to have this step last, especially since it should probably have driven your decisions as to how your show was put together, who your character is and so on. I, however, found that with my first show, this left everything too open and left too many possibilities on the table, so I needed to cull everything down to what I could do first.

    The theme can be a message of inspiration, perhaps a story you would like to tell of someone’s (maybe yours) journey or experiences. Ricky Jay, a fantastic magician who I highly recommend you check out, had a magic show with a theme of himself and his 52 assistants. The theme was entirely about Ricky, his love of cards and the fantastic things that could be done with them. Other magicians go the route of just showing magic effects one after the other. Having a theme, though, combined with the beginning, middle and end you created earlier will ensure your audience is significantly more likely not only to pay attention consistently but also remember more of your show!


    These are by no means the be-all and end-all of the tips on how to create a show, but they should have hopefully given you a bit of inspiration and direction.

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