The Tangled Web We Weave

Dear Friends:
October’s Muse comes to us from across the Atlantic from our good friend Jay Fortune. You might know Jay as a fine magician, as an agent booking top touring talent… or in his most recent re-incarnation as a graphic artist, specializing in pencil sketches of some of magic’s great luminaries…. Like the two below. We’ve known him as all that, and the best host our team could have on our recent tours of the U.K.

The Tangled Web We Weave
By Jay Fortune

Dear friends, this month we are hosting an annual magical celebration that we all anticipate more than any other (it’s my 40th birthday) and with the Magic & Meaning Conference also happening, I thought that for my first ever Museletter contribution, I’d look at the magic we do, and the meaning we often get entangled with along the way. Then we can discuss my birthday.

If you’re in a rush, here’s the gist; be careful if your magic is saying one thing and your words another.

(Perspective No. 1. Inside the mind of our lay-person…) “Oh, this should be good! I haven’t seen a magician for years now. I think Barbara’s wedding was the last time. Ah, here he comes. Okay, he looks a bit lost. Why is he staring at the floor? Ah, a pack of cards… hang on, what’s he saying? Something about terrorism? What’s that got to do with… right… now, he’s mixing the cards… no, he’s back to talking about home-grown fanatical terrorism again… oh, the poor guy next to me is picking a card. Okay, he’s showing it round… oh, for God’s sake, why is he waffling on about 9-11 now?! Just do some magic man! That’s what we’ve paid to see! Ah, the card is going back into the pack, this should be good. Yeah… yeah… mixing them up again. Good stuff. Wonder how he’ll find that card now?! Maybe it’ll float out of the pack somehow? That would be cool! Or maybe he’ll make it appear somehow in the guy’s wallet like that magician did on YouTube… whoa… wait… why is he back to 9-11 and border-security? I really don’t get what this is all about. Now he’s standing the card case up… and now he’s… moving the pack toward it while making the noise of a plane… and… this is weird and really uncomfortable man! Just find the freaking card!!! Ah, so maybe the card will appear in the card case! That would be kinda cool… oh, nope… he’s just hitting the case down with the pack. And… now he’s spelling something… oh, forget this. Last time I come to a magic show!’

(Perspective No. 2. Inside the mind of our wonder-working, meaning-filled, slightly-confused, under-rehearsed, over-whelmed, powerful-performance-inspired magician story-teller…) ‘Oh, this’ll be good… if I can remember the script. Man, my hands are shaking! Okay, let’s go. Okay… breathe, stay calm… Good evening ladies and gentlemen, here I have a pack of cards. Global terrorism is on the rise…’

As a Libran (did I mention it’s my 40th birthday this month?), finding balance is something I’m supposedly good at. For the doubters, please check out my Yoga Tree position. As magicians, how do we balance our audience expectations with the story we wish to tell? Sometimes, the story is powerful and magical enough on its own. Sometimes, the magic is powerful enough on its own. How do we blend the two without confusing our audience? I offer this recipe up for your kind consideration.

  1. Start with a thematic line to set the premise. (This is your meaning, baby!)
  2. Start the magic trick and stick to its procedure, clarifying the magical build-up. (This is your job, baby!)
  3. Call back, once, maybe twice to the theme during the presentation.
  4. Finish the magic effect.
  5. End the theme with a strong line to tie the two strands together into a perfectly woven piece of magical and meaningful perfection. (This is your aim, baby!)

As you progress with your fusing of theme and magic, you’ll become more acquainted with your performing rhythm, and find the best balance for you to inject your own stories into the natural beat of your magic.

I performed a one-man show in London for years, which was all about magic with meaning. Subjects such as death, horror, suicide, drugs, love, heart, joy, envy, terminal illness, our future, our past, our fears, and our phobias were all explored through magic. So, make your themes interesting, relevant and don’t tangle the web you weave.

Friends, I wish you all a meaningful conference later this month, and a huge shout-out to this year’s guest of honor – the legend that is George Parker. Totally deserved.
Now, on to my birthday…

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