What It Means To Play Big

This blog is about the more important half of the old saying "pack small, play big". I begin with a statement of where I stand1, and what I think it takes to play big as a performing magician.

I connect with my audience.

My job is to let people laugh, smile and have a good time. As a magician, I can also create moments of astonishment. These are all gifts for my audience, not to be given flippantly. To Play Big is to set aside your own ego, and put your audience experience first. Craft your performance to maximize its impact on others. People don't remember what you did, or how you did it. They remember how you made them feel. > Tip: When it comes to connecting with an audience, the two most direct routes are sharing a personal story, and using the right music.

My show is the result of my choices.

Magic is hard. There is a lot going on. The engineering of illusions, the psychology of deceptions, and the artistry of performance. Many, many layers. Each and every choice you make along the way, be it practical or creative, influences your show. If you want to improve your act, then you must be prepared to re-examine many of the choices you have made over the years. A constant cycle of asking yourself the right questions and making better-informed choices is the only way to artistic growth. Sometimes it means admitting you were wrong. Other times it means sticking to it when everybody else says you are. > Homework: Put your entire repertoire on the chopping block. Stop doing tricks because they are easy and "I've been doing it for years" and start doing tricks because they earn their place based on their own merit and audience impact.

I am worth watching.

Whatever you do, let it be you who does it. Not some ill-fitting character that attempts to mimic a performer you admire, or a patchwork of put-on personality traits. Artistic expression as an entertainer comes from knowing yourself, and letting your unique personality or character drive your performance. To "be yourself" is one of the most difficult roles to figure out, but so comfortable once you find it. > Personal note: After being myself for so long, I have been struggling with the gap between the magician I am and the magician I wish to be. For the time being I have come to terms with it, understanding that "the grass is greener in the other magician's act"... and I may be taking my own strengths and uniqueness for granted.

I am always at the beginning of what comes next.

Playing Big is not a destination, but a journey. An ongoing mission to improve as a performer. To never stop experimenting. A desire to, next time, play bigger. ---

  1. This "manifesto", as I called it originally, was first written and posted on May 29, 2011. It has been amended with my additional five years of perspective.

Published: November 9, 2018

Channel: Blog

Access: Public

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