My Greatest Joy

Our guest contributor this month is Paul Draper, a senior faculty member at McBride’s Magic & Mystery School. He is currently a visiting professor at the most internationally diverse university in the United States, where he is teaching culture studies. Draper sits on both the Inclusivity & Diversity committee for the Hollywood Magic Castle and for the Magic Circle in London – all of this while still performing hundreds of shows per year!

My Greatest Joy
I am currently floating somewhere in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Cozumel on the largest cruise ship in the world, for an event known as the President’s Cruise. The President of Royal Caribbean, Azamara, Seaborne, and Carnival is along for the ride, joined by a lot of the leadership C-Suite of the companies, and 6,000 of their top guests. For this special event they tripled the entertainment for the week! Fifteen bands instead of five, three comedians instead of one, multiple headliners and production shows, etc., etc., etc. I’m so lucky to get to be a part of making their experience more magical.
That is perhaps my greatest joy as a mystery arts entertainer – our job is to help people celebrate! A child will be having the only eighth birthday they will ever have, but we get to be a part of hundreds of eighth birthdays. Someone might be in Vegas, on a cruise, or at Disneyland for the only time they will ever get a chance to experience it, and we get to share these moments with them time and again. They have worked hard all year for a conference to celebrate, and we are the final event of the conference. It is a great honor and responsibility, and McBride’s Magic & Mystery School entertainers don’t take that responsibility lightly.

The Magician is YOU
There are about 10,000 active magicians and mentalists in the western world. That isn’t many of us to serve the magical needs of billions of people. Most people will never see a wonder worker in person in their entire life. If they are seeing you, you may be the only one. Their entire schema of “Magician” is Merlin, Gandalf, Harry Potter, that magician on tv, and YOU! It’s a great honor to share our art with others. 
Learning from Others
Let me round this out with a few deep thoughts I’m having this week. As I bob around the ocean on a luxury liner, I’m focused on how much we can learn from others and other arts. This week I have learned a great deal about movement from juggler Viktor Kee, who is also performing on the ship with me. I’ve learned the power of call backs from the production of Mamma Mia, where the mega mix at the end gets everyone to their feet every night as they relive the songs from earlier. 

Paul Draper and juggler Viktor Kee onboard the Allure of the Seas

I’ve learned about structure from the three nightly comedians who improvise with “audience work” to make every show different, but they also stay to a core structure that helps their performances hold together. I’ve learned the power of music from watching the ice skating show, where the music carries the story, and makes my heart speed up and slow down in alignment with the feelings and connections they, as artists, want to make. I’ve learned the power of costuming and connection, as we have seen different cultural performances at every port that each tell their own authentic, connected, and powerful stories about the places and the people.

So many magical entertainers of our 10,000 just perform the latest effect that they purchased ten minutes after watching the video. And it works – and gets a wow – because it is magic. Magic is incredible, but we can all learn from others and step beyond the “good enough.” The greatest among us learn from other arts, hobbies, and passions. We make choices based on those experiences, and we tell stories with our bodies, movement, stillness, structure, costumes, lighting, callbacks, words, silence, props, and passion. I learned how to be a better mentalist from watching family entertainers. I learned to be a better person by watching bar magicians. Find another artist to watch today and start learning.

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