Today, many so-called experts and magic philosophers don’t seem to endorse this view as vigorously as thinkers of the past did. Instead, the new-age mantra in magic personality-building is “Be yourself,” “Don’t be somebody else,” “Act naturally”.
I admit these are excellent pieces of advice.
“Be yourself” is a good strategy—if you are as handsome as Lance Burton.
“Don’t be somebody else” is good counsel—for someone with an imposing stage presence, eloquence, and all-around scintillating personality.
However, for me and countless other Filipino magicians encumbered with unappealing personalities, being ourselves is like committing hara-kiri on stage.
At the risk of being egotistical, let me cite myself as an example.
My non-performing persona lacks people skills. That’s right. The terms for that condition are shy or introvert.
Not only that, I speak softly. I also mumble. I even often stammer.
I also like to dress down and wear an unkempt, disheveled look.
Now, if I followed the modern performing buzzword “be yourself”, I’d put my audience quickly to dreamland with my sleep-inducing voice and speech. I’d also annoy them with my unattractive personality.
So what do I do? I embrace Robert Houdin’s golden concept of performing. I play the part of a better version of me.
I look neat, not rumpled, on stage. I write engaging scripts that I master to give a semblance of eloquence and articulateness when performing. Practicing the script also helps project my voice and allows me to attain fluency.
In short, my performing persona is not my natural self. It is not David Copperfield or Brett Daniels but still me, only a more engaging version of myself.
If you think your personality is less-than compelling, don’t be afraid to embellish it with appealing qualities. You are magician. If you can turn a boy into a rabbit, you can turn yourself into a better version of yourself.
Listen to Robert Houdin. Years ago he provided the magic lesson on how to do that. Be an actor.
Don’t act naturally (if your natural self has deficiencies you want to downplay). Instead, act the part of the persona suitable to your performing requirements.
Don’t be contented with being yourself. Be someone else better.
Take it from me, a chameleon when it comes to changing personas.