“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.”
— Jackie Robinson
One of the Burning Man Art Festival mottos is “No Spectators!” In a magic show I think this is a crucial concept to incorporate.
“People support what they help create,” is one of the mottos I live by!
This concept holds true in just about any organization, political movement, internet group, club, and yes, even in the theatre or at a magic show. I feel that the more audience participation there is in a show, the more successful that show becomes. If you look at current Las Vegas shows, the ones that have lasted have a lot of audience participation: Penn & Teller, Mac King, Amazing Jonathan & David Copperfield.
“It’s better to be in love than to watch it!”
There is a huge difference between a spectator and a participant. A spectator spectates, merely watching, witnessing without being directly involved. A participant is co-creating the experience, and has a role to play in the production of the magic.
Experience and learn from some of my favorite participation routines at SCIENCE VS MAGIC.
I’ll be performing in the Close-up Room with Kevin James for the special Rudy Coby week at the Magic Castle, April 21-27.
Also appearing with me will be Marco Tempest, Chris Korn, Rafael, Kevin James, and Timo Mark.
When I hear a magician say, “I have the spectator select a card,” I cringe inside. I am aware that they are not conscious of the words they are using. The more conscious we are of our words, the more conscious we can become as performers. Spectators do not pick cards; they watch cards being picked. Participants pick cards. I want everyone involved in the experience…not spectating. An example is my poker routine called:
This is one of my favorite close-up card routines. I get the entire audience into the story and playing parts in the show, and it’s very easy to do. Have a look and you might like to try it as well.
You can ask me to perform this routine if you attend one of my shows. I have a few coming up while on tour.
I will be performing with my friends at the Weekend of Wonder — perhaps we will meet there?
I rarely get to New York City and I’ll be performing and doing the lecture and workshop at FANTASMA magic shop in New York City, after our evening show Salute to Magic at the Queens Theatre.
I love to perform for Spanish audiences. And the Spanish magicians — especially the close-up artists — are some of the best in the world. If you are in Spain join me here:
Jaun Tamariz is one of the top Spanish magicians. He get the audience to join him in creating the magic. I encourage you to study great performers like Juan, and how they generate excitement, mystery and fun by using audience participation techniques. Explore ways you can welcome your audience into your magic world, and participate in the magic.
Remember: “People support what they help create.” So let them help you create magic! If you have ideas to share with me on ways that you engage your participants, email me and let me know. (just reply to this email!)
The Lance Burton Teen Magic Seminar is where we help the next generation of magicians learn expert skills.
This June, Eugene Burger and I will be joined by Larry Hass and Bryce Kuhlman at the combined IBM-SAM Convention. We will be working with Lance Burton hosting the youth magic seminar. These are the magicians of the future.
Xavier Mortimer will be our special guest this month. Take a look at his amazing talent here.
Early stage – 8pm
Your Host is the versatile Tim Wise
Joe Krathwohl, The Birdman of Las Vegas
Alien Warrior Comic
Close-Up – 9 pm
Your Host is the most elegant Christian Diamond
plus! The Psychic Sideshow with Allan Scott
Late Stage – 10 pm
Katie Kenner and the Maraschino Dolls
With: NWR Dancers, LiveDJ, Art by Areeya, video by SteelFyre
At WONDERGROUND and all of my shows I encourage “PARTY-cipation!
Take a look at one of our shows, and learn from our examples of how you can move your audience from being objective witnesses into subjective participants. Objective witnesses have less responsibility, and do not participate in the action. A subjective participant is actively engaged in the magic experience. They support the show by not only applauding at appropriate moments, but also by selecting cards and helping the magician with various tasks. I use this technique all the time and I would love to teach you how to use it in your work.
We often talk about this kind of technique each week on our Mystery School Monday Show. I invite you to join us and participate with us at our online Mystery school classes!
So come join us online or at one of our shows and be PART of the fun!
See you onstage,
“Magic exists. Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live.”
— Nora Roberts
From Dr. Larry Hass, Associate Dean:
After this long, difficult winter, the glorious month of April is here. There is no fooling around on this April 1: spring is on its way—a time of rebirth and renewal.
In my family and Jewish tradition, it is a time for cleaning and cleansing. Not a chore, but a delight: throw open the windows, wipe up the dust, turn a new page!
With this fresh start in mind, I would like to mention one of my deepest commitments: to perform magic for people rather than “tricks.”
Have you recently thought about this difference? Or has it all become “just tricks” to you? Which pieces in your repertoire are more like magic? Which ones feel like empty, clever tricks?
One way to answer these questions is to look carefully at the reactions you are receiving. After you perform a particular piece, does your audience feel energy, delight, and wonder? (You can tell by the smiles and the palpable excitement.) Or do they say things such as “You fooled me,” or “You really had me with those cards until all the spelling and counting.”
During the spring, I renew my commitment to the pieces in my repertoire that create magic—energy, delight, and wonder—and to set aside the rest. Every garden needs pruning so gorgeous new things can grow. But even more important, people in the world today hunger and hope for magic in their lives, not stupid, stinking tricks. They have quite enough of those—thank you—from advertisers, marketers and salesmen of all kinds.
No, no: the people around us need magic. The world needs your magic. As a magician you have a great gift and a calling. Please go forth this spring with a renewed commitment to magic . . . and fewer tricks.
1. We have just released the 2014 Premier Member Video.
This 45-minute video was filmed in the Hollywood Hills in January for our Premier Members of the Magic & Mystery School. It features Jeff McBride, Eugene Burger, Larry Hass, Bryce Kuhlman, and George Parker in a fun conversation about commercial close-up magic. Jeff, Bryce, and George each teach a great piece of commercial magic that has not appeared on video before.
The only way to receive access to this video is to become a Premier Member of the School (the $100 level). And please remember, $80 of your Premier Membership fee goes directly into the Scholarship Fund that provides need-based financial aid for magicians who need a “hand up” getting the magic education they need to be more successful in magic and in life.
If you are not already a member of the Magic & Mystery School, or if you haven’t yet renewed your membership for 2014, we ask that you please do so. Of course, there are excellent benefits at every membership level, but more importantly, your membership helps us provide the gift of magic education for people in need.
2. Magic and Medicine in the latest issue of MAGIC Magazine.
The April 2014 issue features a 6-page article about our dear friend Dr. Ricardo Rosenkranz. Ricardo is not only a Guest Teacher of the School’s Magic and Medicine CME Seminar, he has also pioneered a Magic and Medicine curriculum for first and second year medical students at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
In this article you will learn all about Ricardo and his extraordinary program, and you will quickly understand why our recent Magic and Medicine CME Seminar earlier was completely sold out. You will also enjoy many photos of Ricardo, Eugene, and me taken at one of our Magic and Medicine teaching programs.
Please note: whether you purchase the iPad or print version of MAGIC Magazine, you will receive access to a video of Ricardo’s smash-hit P.E.P. talk on Magic and Medicine from last year’s Magic and Meaning Conference.
3. Important News about the 2014 Magic and Meaning Conference.
First, we are delighted to announce that Rob Zabrecky will be the Keynote Presenter for the Conference. Rob Zabrecky is the two time winner of the Stage Magician of the Year award at the Magic Castle, and he is the primary medium at the Magic Castle’s famed Houdini Séance room. If you have seen Rob perform, then you know he is a great, distinctive talent. If you haven’t yet had the chance, this is a perfect opportunity for you to meet him, learn from him, and enjoy his work.
Photo credit: August Bradley
Second, the Conference is already over half sold out. If you plan to attend (October 15-18), I encourage you to register as soon as possible. To do so, please go here: http://www.magicalwisdom.com/events#469.
Third, the “Call for Presentations and Performances” has now been posted online, and proposals have been coming in. If you are attending the Conference and would like to propose a 20-minute presentation and/or a performance, please do so at your earliest convenience. The deadline for proposals is July 15, 2014. To learn how to make a proposal, please go to the Call for Presentations and Proposals page.
4. The Magic & Mystery School hosts the Lance Burton Youth Seminar at the IBM/SAM Combined Convention.
Continuing a long tradition, Jeff, Eugene, Bryce, and I will be hosting and teaching the Teen portion of the Lance Burton Youth Seminar at the IBM/SAM Combined Convention in St Louis. The Youth Seminar runs from June 29-30, 2014, and the Convention itself runs July 1-5.
If you are the parent of a teenager or a child, please consider putting this event on your family vacation calendar. There is no extra charge for the Seminar. Last year, Lance Burton spent the whole day with us doing hands on teaching with the teens. For information about how to register for the Lance Burton Youth Seminar, please go here: http://ibmsam.com/youth/.
5. We have just posted new classes and events for 2015.
A 3 Day Master Class is being held on March 18-20, 2015; Magic for Speakers and Presenters is March 22-24, 2015; and The Magic and Medicine CME Seminar will be held March 26-29, 2015. (In 2015, the Seminar will include an additional day of programming and will also include a spouses program led by Dr. Marjorie Hass.)
Also, the 2015 Magic and Meaning Conference has been posted. Because of Jeff’s touring schedule, we had to move it forward a couple of weeks. It will be held November 4-7, 2015.
To register for any of these events, please go here: http://www.magicalwisdom.com/events.
We truly appreciate all of you who stay connected to the Magic & Mystery School. Thank you for supporting our efforts to be the kind of magic school we want to be: full of heart, committed to excellence, and generous to others who need a hand!