Sleight of hand or sleight of mind?

admin#Illusions

Picture the event…

130 guests at a ‘Masked Ball’. Two magicians have been hired to perform at the function – the organizer wanted ‘table magicians‘.

Now as some of you may already know, I’m not a fan of ‘table hopping’ so as part of the deal I arranged to do my ‘usual’ thing of finding a space in the lounge or lobby of the venue so that interested people could come to me during the evening.

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The magician I was working with was doing the ‘table’ stuff.

It was a very challenging venue in terms of table layout so my sympathy was with my magical colleague. In his walk-around ‘set’ he was performing some ‘mental magic‘ items and I, even though I wanted to focus on more traditional close-up mentalism and bizarre stuff, did include a couple card effects with a ‘difference between sleight of hand and sleight of mind theme‘.

As far the organizers were concerned,  their guests were being professionally entertained and despite initial reservations about not having two ‘table magicians‘; the fact that I had a very steady stream of people joining me throughout the evening seemed to validate my insistence that what I suggested would work best.

In terms of the entertainment and value for money,  both my colleague and I worked hard and were getting great responses from the guests.

For my colleague’s part,  he was walking around tables, and latter throughout the lounge and bar area sharing his magic.

For my part I was sitting in the lounge with a old oak chest on the table, a well placed close-up mat and a few “mystical magguffins” – pendulums, an interesting stone and a silver talisman…

For his part he was approaching people and offering to amaze and amuse them…

For my part I was sitting in my best ‘Doc Shiels-Burger-esque’ pose and simply talking to people about magical, mystical and psychological things.

At no point after the meal were the comfy chairs next to me empty.

As one little group left another approached and eagerly sat down.

Now here’s the point.

As we made our way out at the end of the evening, my colleague and I were both getting praise and thanks from all of the guests. At the lobby of the hotel were the ‘ready-to-depart’ VIP’s who, as we approached were obviously talking about one of the ‘effects’ that I had performed for them.

As we walked past, one of the assembled guests stopped me to thank me again for the ‘thought provoking and amazing evening’ and as they all called out their goodbyes a further voice, that of the organizer shouting out…

“Oh and say goodnight to the magician too….”

Those words echoed in my head…

“Say goodnight to the magician too…”

So, I wasn’t a magician?

After a moments reflection I was overjoyed!

For some reason there was the perception that I was doing something ‘different’ to what their notion of a magician dictated.

My colleague had presented ‘magic tricks‘ and somehow the frame I was using resulted in the perception of something different… not necessarily better, but certainly different and because of that perhaps more memorable?

That, I guess, is the real difference between magic and mentalism.

The former engages the spectator in a willing suspension of disbelief or criticism..

The latter asks the spectator to extend their belief and challenge their skepticism…

Because of that perhaps the experience of mentalism can be far more personal than the experience of magic (or what has today seen as magic by the public – namely trickery’)

The real magician, in tradition and in terms of the art, is not simply a trickster. They can be wizard, sorcerer, oracle, sage, elder..

If you are a magician and you are reading this then perhaps you would enjoy considering how you want to be perceived.

It’s about ‘performance frames’, the way you want to present your art and the responsibility that you have for the effect your magic has.

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