The Path of Collaboration

We are delighted to have another article by our Dean, Eugene Burger, for you this month:

Eugene Skull


Eugene Burger

Museletter May, 2017

Sometimes getting our (magic) act together isn’t easy. We are close to being ready to debut our performance, but we hesitate. There are so many unresolved issues, so many questions, so much doubt. Yet if the curtain never rises, we are trapped in our thoughts. and we face the danger of never putting our magic into the real world. This is a problem for many performers. Is there anything that can be done about it? Is there a way to move our inaction to action?

Let me recommend a path that I have followed for the entire length of my professional career. I began this path, in fact, before I became a professional magician. It is the path of collaboration, the way of working with others to accomplish our goals. I have found this a way to get things and myself moving, a way to end inaction and move to genuine action.

My first magical collaboration began in the mid-1970’s. I had always dreamed of putting together a séance show, and even had a title for the show in my mind: “Hauntings.” But I was stuck. The idea remained no more than an idea; a thought. Then one night when I was explaining my dream to my friend Erik Counce, he enthusiastically said he would love to join me in putting this show together. Two other friends, Dennis Rook and Marcella Ruble, also joined in, and suddenly I had a little company dedicated to realizing the dream of creating a séance show.

We worked well together. Collaborating with others helped me move my dream into reality. In less than a year the show debuted and was very successful. In fact, the show was one of the primary things that helped convince me to move into full-time professional magic.

Over the years, I have collaborated with Jeff McBride on many shows — and that collaboration continues today. I have also worked with Max Maven and Tina Lenert on a show called, “The Nocturnal Trio.”

In 2010 I collaborated with my friend Michael Carbonaro on a show in the Peller Theater at the Magic Castle. We worked together again in 2012, giving the show a name, “Dark Stories,” and a more formal structure. We repeated it in 2014 and 2015. We also performed it at James Randi’s Conference in Las Vegas and at a Genii convention in Florida.

Dark Stories

In 2013, when Michael was involved with his wonderful television show “The Carbonaro Effect,” I collaborated in the Peller Theater with Rob Zabrecky. Rob and I repeated this in 2016 with the title, “Fun and Games with Eugene Burger and Zabrecky.”

Larry Hass and I have collaborated for several years now, mounting about a dozen séance shows at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania and at Austin College in Texas. For one of the Muhlenberg shows, Michael Carbonaro joined us to be an audience-member-turned-medium who, when the lights came up, had disappeared. Larry and I have also performed non-séance shows together at colleges, conventions, and the Magic Castle.

Group of Three

Collaboration may be a path that you might consider. You can learn a great deal from working with others who are as dedicated as you are. And sometimes, collaboration may help us move our magical dreams from ideas to reality. Think about it.

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