I just booked a number of shows for former clients who want to see a new show. As a result, I’m now looking at an entire week (well, probably a month or two) of practice and rehearsal sessions.
Add to that the endless worrying the new program will not be as funny, amazing and entertaining as the previous show, and you have what I consider my version of the Agony in the Garden.
Let me enter that garden today…
It used to be that learning new tricks excited me endlessly. I was like someone possessed by a playful spirit once I set my mind on adding something new to my program. I looked forward to long practice sessions and rehearsals.
Well, not anymore. I don’t enjoy practicing and rehearsing the way I used to. I can’t stand the early part of the learning process, when I’m gathering the props, studying the sleights, writing the script, choosing music and blocking my moves.
Well, I can’t. And I won’t.
I can’t stop doing what I do and I can’t take time off, no matter how I detest rehearsals. On the contrary I have to work fast to learn new tricks, because I have gigs coming up.
I think what I detest in this whole affair is the pressure. I hate deadlines. It raises my blood pressure to the danger line. Yet, so far that’s what I have on my plates right now. A good serving of deadlines.
I also hate the part where I have to gather the props and learn the trick. It is only when a magic routine or act takes shape that I begin to relish practice and rehearsals. When I don’t think anymore what comes next in the routine, when the patter flows from my mouth effortlessly, and when I move smoothly to build up the trick and bring it to applause position, then I begin to love what I’m doing. I even love it more when I bring out the brand-new act before a live audience for a debut performance.
It is not burn-out, I assure myself, that is the reason I hate learning new tricks. It is the long process required to build a new act.
Yes, it is a long process—even if you think it is not. It takes me longer than other magicians to learn tricks. Maybe I’m not a precocious student. I don’t know. What I know is that I stretch the learning and rehearsal time, because I am not satisfied easily with my work.
I worked once in a theme park with another magician. Our engagement ran for over two months. One night, I saw the other magician building an illusion at the back of the stage. The next evening, he performed the illusion live before the paying public.
I thought, this doesn’t make sense. How could he learn to perform an illusion overnight? I couldn’t learn that fast.
Well, judging the way he performed the illusion and its impact on the audience, he had not yet learned the illusion well enough. He just thought he had—that he could do it already despite the meager time spent on learning and practicing the illusion.
He demonstrated bravado, but he failed to perform magic.
He brought the audience to the Garden of Agony.