May I have your attention, please?
Because today I will discuss something arcane—-“attention span.”
Many magicians in the Philippines, or probably even all over the world, have a tendency to imitate an Energizer battery. They go on and on with their performances. They seldom stop even though they have lost their audience to dreamland.
The reason could be that many Filipino magicians have not even heard about attention span. They know about Double Lift and Elmsley Count, but not attention span.
The truth of the matter is that people have limited attention span. They couldn’t focus on certain activities indefinitely. At some point in time, they get bored with doing one thing over and over again. Even if that activity is sex, the most unboring activity of all ages, they still get bored with it.
There’s is such thing as a saturation point. It’s the point where you can’t take any more of the same stuff. When you reach it, your tolerance snaps.
These saturation point defines a person’s attention span. Today’s most knowledgeable expert (his name is Leodini, in case you didn’t know) estimates that the attention span of most adults is about one-and-half hours. That’s why most movie producers make their films that long to make sure they keep their target audience’s attention for the duration of the movie.
Children have even shorter attention span than adults. According to an article at www.kidsgrowth.com, “A normal attention span is 3 to 5 minutes per year of a child’s age. Therefore, a 2-year-old should be able to concentrate on a particular task for at least 6 minutes, and a child entering kindergarten should be able to concentrate for at least 15 minutes.”
However, with the advent of MTV—featuring energetic music coupled with rapid-fire camera works, dance numbers at supersonic speed—the attention span of people, especially children, has become progressively shorter.
A Filipino magician who thinks he can keep people’s attention with a 10-minute, soporific performance of the Ambitious Card Routine is being presumptuous. The best card trick in the world can’t compete with the visual wizardry of an MTV film feature.
Give yourself a chance against other forms of entertainment. If you can’t compete in the visual department, at least cut your routine short. Make it compact and streamlined to keep it within most people’s attention span and tolerance.
As for children’s magicians, unless you are David Ginn or Silly Billy who could stretch a minimalist trick to 10 or even up to 12 minutes, get to your routine’s climax in five minutes. Not more. Longer than that, and you will be inviting glazed eyes instead of amazed reactions.