Scripting “Laughs, Wonders and Illusions”

After outlining the show, we write scripts for each illusion.

We use the proper script formatting to capture each scene from the audience’s perspective, including speeches, set, movement, etc.. We do not consider method (how the magic will be achieved) while writing. The entire focus is on presentation. Krissy and I split the scenes and write independently. After the first draft, we print them out and critique each one together.

During the second and subsequent drafts the illusion becomes independent from our previous research. We introduce humor, emotions, movement and narrative to make each one new and exciting. We seek to expand the basic idea to its ultimate limits. This is when concept drawings start.

From concept drawings, we make shop plans and start to build. But more on that next week

Developing “Laughs, Wonders and Illusions”: The Concepts

Moving from research to a performance-ready show is long journey.

Even before Krissy joined Jim Perry Magic, my notebook was filled with illusion ideas. Pictured here is an quick sketch from September 2016, which ultimately did not make the show.

Maybe someday, we will build and perform this one, but for now, it will wait. It is one of dozens of ideas that we looked at in the concept phase of the show.

As we moved from concept to planning, Krissy and I agreed that we prefer magic that has a lot of comic moments. So we started to list effects that allowed that type of interpretation and to exclude those that didn’t (for me that meant no sawed-in-halfs, feigned dismemberments or body penetrations). We drafted several handwritten lists.

Eventually, we made an overall outline that details the general flow of the show. This basic framework allows us to focus on the specific performances of the individual effects. From there, we began scripting and sketching. We continue to plan and work towards our premiere in Crofton, NE on March 11 for the Shannon Trail Promoters.

Next week’s post will focus on the scripting and concept drawing process (and maybe a few work-in-process workshop photos).

Developing “Laughs, Wonders and Illusions”

It is the reason I started.

Lots of folks thought I was crazy when a left a great job at a great university (University of South Dakota–Go Yotes!) to return to full time magic. It was hard for them to understand leaving a secure, well-paying, fully-benefited job to perform. Those who know me best knew that it wasn’t really a choice. I need to entertain and inspire audiences to escape into a world of laughter, wonder and illusion.

So we dove right into the deep end. I hired an assistant (Krissy Leitru), and first we redesigned the stand-up magic show. We made great progress, and we are very proud of that offering. But, we have never lost sight to the end goal: an illusion show for all ages! Between writing and rehearsing the stand-up show, we started to brainstorm and research the full illusion show. We spent weeks reading and re-reading books in my magical library, watching hours of videos on the internet, and just tossing out ideas.

The ideas started to come together, and several things became clear:

  • We loved the adventurer magician idea, but decided to table that idea for later.
  • Individually and as a duo, we prefer magic that has a lot of comic moments.
  • We wanted to build our own illusions.

So we outlined a show and started to write scripts for each illusion. After a week, we had strong first drafts of each illusion script and some concept diagrams. We are in the process of refining, expanding and improving these illusions as we go into the shop to continue building them this week.

The show includes a Portal Appearance, a crate escape, the suspension in mid-air of an audience member and much more.

More next week…

Ringing in the New Year with a Little Card Magic

Finally, 2018.

We ushered the new year in with some magic at the Yankton Historical Society’s Mead Masquerade Ball, at the Mead Cultural Education Center. It was lots of fun, and we will post some images and video in the coming weeks, but here is just a taste of the fun we had:

Next week: a look behind the scenes at the development of our new Illusion Show!


Magic is a profession like any other, and it is important to stay up to date. I spent last Saturday at a lecture with David Hira for just that reason.

David’s lecture was outstanding. The presentation prompted many ideas for improvements to our show. I cannot wait to incorporate them. But beyond the technical showmanship and magic ideas, David’s lecture asked a critical question: Why?

Why? Why are we magicians?

This question is about motivations and the attitudes that a performer brings to the stage. I could give many answers to the question “why do you perform?” from continuing a family tradition to its just plain fun. But those reasons would not explain why I don’t return to post-secondary education or return to the lucrative computer science field. And honestly, they are not why I choose to become a full-time entertainer.

I became an entertainer because I love to take people away from their daily lives, to help them for a few minutes to see a world filled with wonder and laughs.

Social Media Milestone; Thank you

Part of the relaunch strategy for Jim Perry Magic has been to increase our Social Media Presence and reach as part of the creation of the Explorer Magician family show.

Ultimately, the Explorer Magician show aims to tell the story of a magician and his fairy friend’s ongoing adventures and discoveries in both the fairy world and the natural world using online and live platforms.

Before we can use Facebook and other platforms, we need to create a following. We focused on Facebook first. Below is a chart from the Jim Perry Magic Facebook Administrator page

The chart shows a huge growth in Facebook page likes at a every rapid pace. You might wonder what happened. We worked with some of our fans to promote the page. And those fans shared the page with their friends.

Yup, that is the big secret to the growth: Friends helping friends and sharing content that those friends might like.

We want to thank everyone for helping us create a following of people, who want to share wonder and a laugh. Thank you.

Alternative Universe

I received an unexpected call last Friday.

The caller was a reporter from a regional newspaper. He told me that he was working on a series about people with unusual jobs and asked if I would like to be interviewed. Of course, I said yes, and we made arrangements to meet this week. I will be sure to let you know if and when the interview is published.

I have been thinking about how to talk about being a magician because in many important ways, I don’t live in the real world. Of course, I have bills, and taxes, and expenses and responsibilities. But mostly I have time to think, and create and dream and write. A typical work day includes practice and rehearsal, and client calls and vanishing coins into thin air, and making dinner and causing someone to be suspended four feet about the floor, and paying bills and escaping from a locked crate.

All in all, being a magician is just like any other job, except that I view the laws of physics more as guidelines rather than laws.

Backstage: Discovering New Magic

Some magicians love to collect every new effect for the pure joy of it. It is an expensive but exciting hobby.

I have a different process. I schedule time to play.

Alone or with an assistant, I go to the practice space and get out a few properties. Generally, I begin with a concept, sometimes it is an approach to a routine, sometimes it is a story with a magical theme. Always I begin with a pencil and paper.

These steps help me think about and incorporate new magic routines into our show:

  1. I brainstorm ideas on my floor-to-ceiling whiteboard. All ideas are scribbled down, and no judgments are made. Other times I sit among a collection of props
  2. Eventually, some idea strikes me as special, so I write a description of how the illusion will be experienced by the audience. At this point, I give no thought to method. This is a critical point. Beginning magicians often want to know how a “trick is done,” but how it is done is not an important part of magic. Only the wonder a magic effect brings to the audience matters.

Most ideas are fun to work on, but do not result in usable magic. But every once in a while, something wonderful happens.

Just last week, Krissy and I added a new facet to the our opening sequence. I was searching for a pair of color matched props, when she suggested, “Why don’t you just magically change the color”? Of course, she was right. We added the color change and the whole routine is improved.

Most ideas are fun to work on, but do not result in usable magic. But every once in a while, something wonderful happens.

More Magician’s Retreat

I want to thank all the entertainers who brought some great information to the Magician’s Retreat and Workshop on October 1:

  • Jerry Snyder had some great ideas for the DIY magician.
  • Michelle Turner shared some fantastic balloon sculpture.
  • I learned some card magic from Brian Engelmann.
  • Larry Dunbar made many helpful suggestions about the handling a several effects.
  • Lin Snyder did some great face painting.
  • Krissy and I led the group on a tour of our workshop and practice space.

We are already planning a bigger and more exciting Retreat for next fall.

I want to especially thank my wife and photographer, Laura Vidler, for her help and support for this event and in all my magical endeavors.