Today let me write about how magicians cope with problems during the show and how they deal with them.
The ability to recover from mistakes and steer the performance to a successful (even though different) conclusion is a measure of a magician’s performing skills. Averting total disaster, salvaging a tail-spinning act, or wriggling out from a difficult and embarrassing situation speaks volume of a magician’s ability to think on his feet, discard his script and improvise.
Magicians have a term for giving disasters a slip. They call it outs—as in getting out from a problematic situation. It is basically a means of escape that extricates a magician from a developing problem during a performance.
Though I said earlier that outs are usually seen as an improvisational maneuver, they need not be a spur-of-the-moment strategy. They may look impromptu, but in most cases they are well thought out, studied and deliberate.
This is because, in creating their acts, most thinking and careful magicians often plan their escape routes for when things go awry during the show. For example, if the magician fails to force a card, or a spectator forgets it, the performer should know well in advance (and even rehearse ahead of time) an alternative course of action to finish the trick successfully.
To do this, the magician must posses remarkable foresight. He has to answer several “what if” questions during rehearsals. What if the padlock can’t be open by the secret key? What if the invisible thread breaks? What if the props malfunction? What if the music fails to play on cue?
The performer, if he is a good one, should have answers to these questions long before he goes live on stage.
Of course, a performer cannot anticipate all “what if” situations. Unexpected mistakes, for which the magician has no answers in advance, do happen and test the performer’s ability to improvise. The more experience he is, and the more in control he is of his wits, the better and quicker he is able to come up with clever solutions to problems arising during the show.
It is a skill worth acquiring. Unfortunately, it can be learned only through experience under the awkward process of learning from one’s mistakes. This means, a magician has to go through the crucible of committing mistakes to hone this particular skill.
Not a pretty prospect for performers wanting to project an image of invincibility.
- When Things in the Show Go Awry… (innermagicclub.wordpress.com)
- How to Dress Up for a Performance? (innermagicclub.wordpress.com)
- The Courage to Perform (innermagicclub.wordpress.com)