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PhotobucketOkay, you have closeted yourself for hours on end in your ivory tower, learning, practicing, and rehearsing a new material.

You have asked your friends and relatives to watch you perform the new routine and solicited their comments. Listening to their suggestions, you tweaked your routine, embellished it with sparkling patter, music and funny bits. You honed it to your standard of quality performance.

Now it is time to perform your new routine before a live audience.

Why are there butterflies in your stomach?

PhotobucketIf the above scenario sounds familiar, it is because it is familiar. It happens every time we break in a new magic trick. We always worry about messing up an untested routine.  Often we agonized over the following:

Is the new trick/prop deceptive enough? Fooling the audience, though not a charming term, is a magician’s self-imposed mission.  If people can see through the trick or deduce on the spot the inner working of the prop, you will not be able to create the magic. You might as well sing a song or dance and not perform magic,  if it’s method is so patent it fails to deceive people.

The thought of failing to fool the audience will always be at the back of your mind, nagging you endlessly before you put a new trick in the crucible of  first live performance.  As a result the butterflies will have a feast day of fluttering inside your stomach

Is my performance entertaining? Apart from deceiving the audience, entertaining them is the magician’s other priority. Magic tricks or props, by themselves, are rarely entertaining. They need a lot of help from the magician.

However, when a magician debuts a trick, he is always concerned about how he will deliver his line. Will the jokes bomb? Will he flub his patter.  All this torments him.

PhotobucketHave I got my ducks in a row? A magic performance is not just about tricks and props. It has many small details and elements. They must all be accounted for and taken care of even before the show, and specially during the performance. Music, lights, backdrops, the assistants entering and exiting—all this should be properly rehearsed as well and timed to avoid miscues.

No matter how often one practices or rehearses a routine, there’s no substitute to performing it live.  A live performance is the only way all the elements of the trick will fall into their proper places.

I’m currently practicing an escape act. I have been at it for maybe four months now.  I have done the routine close to a thousand times (well, maybe around 800 times already) in rehearsals, yet I still can’t bring myself to doing it live.

I still have nightmare scenarios like boring the audience with my writhing and thrashing about on the stage to get out of my restraints, or worse, not being able to escape at all.

I’ll let you know if it goes well. That is, as soon as I muster the courage to perform it live.

Meantime, I’ll sit and stew, worrying if this act is now ripe for a live performance.