Finding Your Authentic Voice

Dear Friends,
Our guest contributor this month is Chris Herren. Jeff McBride describes Chris best when he says “Chris Herren as Faust weaves the ancient art of magic and pantomime into a rich tapestry of illusion and enchantment.”

One of the most common questions I get asked is, “How did I come up with my character Faust?” Usually, the people looking to find an answer to this question are those seeking to find their own authentic voice in magic. Rather than call Faust a character or persona, I identify with Faust as an intimate expression of who I am. 
Finding your voice
Generally speaking, I believe that finding your authentic voice can be one of the most difficult things to discover. I say this because it requires us to do something that we are normally taught not to do in magic – and that is to be completely honest. Magic is an art form that requires us to keep our techniques secret, so it’s understandable that our initial instinct may discourage us from exploring a voice that exposes who we are. 
For myself, the character development of Faust was inspired from various hardships in my life. I knew that drawing on such inspirations would place me in a rather vulnerable situation. It would expose some parts of me that I felt were very private, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to share this side of me, particularly on stage. My approach to developing Faust was to create something real for the audience – to contrast the stage illusions that I was performing, with authentic, true emotional expressions of who I was, and who I wanted to be. 

I recall Eugene Burger’s 1992 audio recordings Growing in the Art of Magic. The one statement that Eugene said that will always resonate with me was, “What do you want your magic to be?” It is a question I had explored when developing Faust. His question led to many questions about the direction I wanted to go, but it soon led to the most important one, “What did I want to say?” 
I believe that these two questions were vital in finding my authentic voice, so I share these very questions to those who are seeking the same thing. What do you want to say in magic? And, what do you want it to be? In Eugene’s audio recordings, he described his sponge ball routine as one of his most requested pieces of magic. However, when asking himself the very question of “What he wanted his magic to be,” Eugene found that the sponge balls did not fit his personal vision. So he ended up taking out the sponge balls from his repertoire, even though that piece of magic was very successful. 

This reflection of Eugene led me to believe that finding your authentic voice begins with the question, “What do you want your magic to be?” It’s obvious to me that Eugene knew exactly what that was for himself. He knew what fitted in that world, and excluded what didn’t. Likewise, I wanted my magic to be an honest reflection of who I was. I wanted people to be moved by emotion and story – particularly, my story. 
I believe everyone has an authentic voice to share. Whatever that may be, I believe it comes from honestly looking at who you are and what you want. Begin there, and ask the very question that Eugene has left us all with, “What do you want your magic to be?” Perhaps in asking this question, you too will find an authentic voice that has yet to be discovered.

Chris Herren as Faust, MMC
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Facebook: Chris Herren As Faust
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