Last Monday, Krissy and I started rehearsals, and we are off to a great start.
Magicians like to distinguish between practice and rehearsals. Practice, they say, is the process of learning how to perform an effect perfectly, and rehearsal is learning how to present the effect. The very technical nature of Magic makes this distinction useful.
I like to define things a little differently and prefer to think of show development as an overlapping multi-part approach:
- Workouts are the very fundamental sleight of hand techniques, or general postures, or memorization, or whatever that can usually be done without any special preparations. Ideally, just for a few seconds at a time. I might, for example, grocery shop with a coin in my hand, producing it and vanishing as I go. Workouts train the muscles and the brain to execute without conscience attention. Workouts are not necessarily part of rehearsal; they are the daily life of a magician.
- Brainstorming is a time set aside to let the imagination flow. Sometimes, it is as simple as using my floor-to-ceiling whiteboard to scribble ideas. Other times, I brainstorm with pen or pencil on paper at the mall or the coffee shop. My favorite method is to just sit among my props and other cool objects and just play with them. Brainstorming continues throughout the development of the show, not just at the beginning.
- This is my name for what most magicians call practice: the learning of new magic techniques. I borrow the word class from the traditions of Ballet. In Ballet, class is where young dancers learn the basics and experienced dancers warm-up for the day of dancing (This is, of course an over simplification). The key is that every dancer attends class. I like to think of magic class as a place to learn. Magic class is the place to refine performance. And I think it is an essential activity before every rehearsal.
- Rehearsal focuses on presentation with an important limitation: No Stopping. Early rehearsals have no stopping during effects, but, over time, the no stopping rule extends to routines, segments and then the whole show. Everything in rehearsal is real: Real liquids, real streamers, real fire! I seek to create the most realistic live performance conditions, so that we can discover all the things that might go wrong, before we perform for you.
These short descriptions cannot do justice to the many aspects of creating a show, but they are a good place to start. Not only are these phases described in broad strokes, but we haven’t even discussed prop and illusion building, costumes, sets, sound, writing and more.
What aspect would you like to discuss?