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Magicians Can Captivate an Audience with Mystery

Aug 4, 2008
A lack of understanding does not necessarily create a sense of mystery. A confusing magic effect is a perfect example of this. (Though "a confused magic effect" may be a more accurate phrase because there are far fewer inherently confusing effects than there are confusing ways of presenting effects.) If you share an effect with your audience and unintentionally lose them somewhere along the way, perhaps because you raced through an important part of neglected to clarify an initial condition, at the end of the routine the audience will fail to grasp the overall effect.

This lack of understanding will create confusion and possibly frustration, but not a sense of mystery. Paradoxically, mystery requires clarity, even a certainty as to the events surrounding the mystery.

ORCHESTRATING FOCUS

Here are nine principles regarding the audience's visual experience of a performance of magic.

During the performance of an effect the audience is always looking somewhere.

Each spectator sees/gathers a series of images during the effect.

Spectators often gather slightly or even starkly different images depending on a wide range of variables including seating position, mental concentration, emotional involvement, etc.

Each spectator's collection of highly subjective images make-up the raw visual ingredients of their ultimately unique experience of the effect.

There are six primary areas of audience focus: the performer's face, his right hand, his left hand, the props, the face(s) of any participants and hands of the participants. When the magician is holding a prop (rather than placing it on the table) or when both of his hands are within a few inches of each other, the separateness of the spheres vanishes and a single sphere of focus is shared.

The performer's focus, though not absolutely controlling the audience's focus, powerfully guides it.

To aid in this guiding, the experienced performer will employ his eyes, the direction and angle of his head, his hands, words, and props.

The odds of the audience's focus shifting from a sphere of attention are in direct proportion to the length of time nothing of interest has happened in that area. With this sphere of attention a moment before you desire them to not be looking there. Just prior to executing a Classic Pass, I use my eyes, the angle of my head and the position of my hands to draw the audience's attention to the deck, usually as I am the audience looking up into my face when, a moment later, I lower my hands, straighten my shoulders and look the spectators in the eyes.

It is far more effective to guide the audience's focus towards something rather than away from something.
About the Author
Jay Sankey is a true magician's magician and is widely considered to be one of the most original thinkers and finest magic teachers alive today. He is also one of the most prolific magic creators on the planet. Visit http://www.sankeymagic.com for more information about Jay and Sankey Magic.
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