Stand-Up Magic In Books: Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks

It’s tough to find good stand-up or stage magic in books. Performers who want to be playing big are drowning in a sea of close-up card tricks. This book will throw you a line, with a bundle of tricks and ideas to strike a cord with your audiences.

[row] [col span="6" span__sm="12"] [/col] [col span="6" span__sm="12"] ### Stewart James’ “Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks” lives up to its title

Now, you may think you own this book. You may be wrong. You may be right. I may be crazy. But this just may be the book of tricks you’re looking for.

Most likely, the rope trick book you have sitting on your shelf is “Abbott’s Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks For Magicians”. The blue-covered paperback Dover edition being most common. Stewart James orignally compiled that book in 1941. However, in the next forty years he published two more volumes of rope tricks.

This fancy hardcover “Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks” is all three combined… the original Abbott’s text and whole lot more.

[/col] [col span__sm="12"] For example, in the chapter titled Cut and Restored Rope (Unprepared), the Abbott’s edition offers 16 tricks, while the expanded edition has 27. My point is, the new edition, put out by Squash Publishing, makes it well worth replacing your Dover edition.

Rope tricks are well known for their natural pack-small-play-bigness. A rope can be coiled in your pocket, and stretch across an entire stage. The thick, bright white line can be seen clearly, and the magic plays well because people know just what a rope can and cannot do.

These days, magicians seem to be performing a “rope flurry” sort of routine. From Sands-sational kicking things off, through Daryl bringing it to a wider audience, and Fibre Optics inspiring the new generation, the strategy of cramming as much visual rope magic into one routine has proven popular. I can understand why. It’s fast, it’s visual, it’s amazing.

[/col] [col span="4" span__sm="12"] #### Side Note: Most rope magic is too rushed!

Personally, I find most performances lack clarity and performers forget to sell the magic moment before rushing into the next segment. There is too much, too fast, and it all becomes a blur. This is why Francis Tabary is a favourite to watch. He performs slowly, allowing everyone to focus and appreciate the magic to its fullest.

[/col] [col span="8" span__sm="12"] [ux_video url=""] Francis Tabary performs at a relaxed pace, and rope miracles simply happen in his hands!

[/col] [col span__sm="12"] The Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks provides the whole toolkit to creating your own rope routines so you don’t have to do it the same as all your friends. It has all the moves you could ever want for being amazing with a piece of rope.

Like most older books, the contents are presented blandly, without hype, leaving it up to you to find the gems, dust it off, and bring them to life. The first time flipping through the later chapters I ran across two ideas that must have inspired Dean Dill when he came up with “Dean’s Box”. That trick is now a featured item in a lot of professional acts, and they paid a premium for it.

There’s a lot of potential in these pages. I was working on a “Ropes Through Body” effect for a family show, and I have literally dozens of different methods to choose from. I can weigh the benefits of each to determine which suits my needs best.

Looking for a magical start to any rope routine? Well there’s a handful of suggestions for stretching a rope kick things off. You have all the ingredients for a escape act or spirit cabinet with various thumb, wrist, and arm ties.

As I’m flipping through the book just now, I stumble upon something new… a way to quickly and naturally cut a rope in six pieces (without any weird knots or confusion) and instantly restore it. That may well be a missing puzzle piece to re-inspire development on an old routine of mine.

This is why I love these sorts of reference books. When you flip through, your brain has an amazing way of finding new connections, making it a unique experience every time. You don't get that same result from watching DVD’s where everything is laid out for you. More thinking means better magic.

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Published: November 25, 2012

Channel: Blog

Access: Public


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