Words of wisdom from superstars don’t always apply in the Philippine magic scene.
Take for example signature acts. Someone I idolize has been spreading the Gospel of building a signature act.
For example, Jeff Hobson, Egg Bag. The Pendragons, The Metamorphosis. Leodini, looking like Mel Gibson.
As you may have noticed, a signature act takes years to reach its status. You count years. You grow white hair. You wisen up to the realities of performing life before you can have a signature act.
But here’s the bad news for signature-act advocates. It’s not practical building one in the Philippines.
In a performing circuit as small as Metro Manila, which is over-populated with established and wannabe magicians, you’ll get snowed under by competition before you get your signature act down pat. And to think it doesn’t snow in the Philippines.
In the Philippines, a magician has to do varied acts instead of doing a few signature acts over and over again. The reason is that the market for magic entertainment in the Philippines is small. Clients demand to see another program if they want to hire the same performer again.
I agree that to satisfy the local market, a magician has to build a large repertoire. Just the same, I don’t prefer to go to the other extreme—the Jack-of-all-trades way. Via this route, some performers offer themselves as magicians, party hosts, balloon twisters, ventriloquists, mimes and clowns rolled into one.
There is definitely a market for such performers. However, I think going that way is overextending oneself. The result is that the client gets a multi-talented but sub-standard performer.
How sub-standard? Well, the more talents he offers, the bigger the probability a performer can’t do them all as well as the specialists.
So if you have the luxury of time to develop multiple talents and don’t mind being mediocre, go ahead, learn every novelty act you can learn in your lifetime.
If you are like me, don’t overextend yourself. Be better than the rest by calibrating your talents.
Before I get carried away by bouts of frivolity, I’m sold to the idea of building a signature act. But for reason of the small local market for magic in the Philippines, one might build a signature act at the same time as he builds a fluid and dynamic repertoire.
I think the local market is not yet ready, or can’t support, magicians who are six-trick ponies.
And because of that, the local market will pay the price for their modest taste by enduring a lot of varied but mediocre performances.