They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It doesn’t matter who “they” is, but the statement is interesting. Ever since I was little I have seen the world as a series of pictures – vignettes, if you will. When I perform, I try to convey as much as possible through visual communication (at least the important bits). I want audiences to interpret for themselves and try to use language to engage them in a pleasant game of cat and mouse.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk. I can go on (and on) for hours just for the intellectual workout. Just because you *can* talk, doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes silence is truly the best medicine.
Why this topic? Yesterday, I recorded an interview for our state’s public radio station with a prominent, excellent interviewer. I arrive at the studio with a list of topics that I hoped to discuss and was pleasantly surprised to see that we diverged greatly from my “prepared” conversation starters.
She expressed interest in my latest project (a performance as 19th century magician Jonathan Harrington) and then the conversation turned far afield to seances, spiritualism, skepticism, technology and magic. It made for a very engaging conversation and I could have talked all day… Radio being what it is, though, the segment had to end, leaving me (and hopefully the audience) wanting more.
In performances of magic, all too often the patter is expository and descriptive of the actions in process. For the most part, most of the words mean nothing and serve little purpose except perhaps to cast a sort of hypnotic spell over audiences so they will be less critical (or perhaps less vocal in their critique). Left to their own, audiences can interpret what’s happening in front of them on their own. Better, perhaps, to use this time to engage them in a game of “what ifs” and let them discover the magic before it is revealed…
Tonight, I have my monthly “Discovering Magic” performance for the ticket-buying public and look forward to engaging my audience in a dialogue about the experience that leads them away from the “how” the tricks are done to the “why” magic and magical experiences affect us in this era of knowledge and sophistication.
Should be fun!