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The Secret of Rehearsalsby Christopher Grant
Vice President, Patient Services, Johns Hopkins Medicine International Board of Directors, Aaron Fisher Magic
The trick started going wrong. For whatever reason, my mind wandered and the cards did too. I was performing a routine that I have done a million times and the reveal was going to suffer if I didn’t do something – quick.
I didn’t panic because I had my outs – not just in technique but in presentation and script. I simply applied my techniques, used script and presentation to create an off-beat of misdirection and came to a strong conclusion – and the audience’s reaction proved that they had no idea.
The real secret was not “outs” but rehearsals. Rehearsals are part of my discipline in close up – investing at least 100 hours for every minute I perform.
Rehearsing seems to have become a lost discipline in magic. Its evident in the products that I see advertised and pumped through the many channels. All promise the buyer the ability to perform magic: “No moves required.” “No technique needed.” “Perform within minutes of learning.” “Fool-proof gaffs or utilities.”
Admittedly, I was a prolific purchaser of these products. Consumed by my desire to add to my portfolio of “tricks” I bought everything that was easy to perform. The problem was that I wasn’t learning magic. If I performed any magic, I had to use 5-6 different decks. I wasn’t building up confidence. I wasn’t cultivating my artistic sensibility – I was simply trying to throw grenades at a small-refined target.
Having spent over 20 years in theater, I know the value of rehearsing. The rehearsal process allows the theater artist (director, designers, and actors) to evolve the written word into a living breathing and dynamic experience. When I got into magic, I realized, like many, that magic is a theatrical art and the same rules apply.
Rehearsals are fundamental to the art.
The rehearsal allows you to create and develop “your voice” to the play. Thousands of artists will approach the work (trick or routine) in the same way, but those that separate themselves from the pack try to discover how to make the words their own.
Along those same lines, the artists are honing their characters. They work to develop actions that are intentional. There is an inner monologue that reinforces the intention. There is a back-story that gives context to the words and action. The same is true in magic and close up.
Finally, the rehearsal develops confidence in the artists. As they whittle away at the words and actions, their understanding deepens and actually allows them more flexibility to explore areas with more confidence – deepening their character, role and intentions.
An acting coach once told me that the real reason people are nervous on stage is that they are unprepared. They haven’t rehearsed. They don’t understand what they are doing.
The secret to rehearsing is that you won’t spend countless dollars on tricks that don’t encourage rehearsing.
The secret to rehearsing is that you will develop techniques that allow you to become more confident – more of an artist.
The secret to rehearsing is that you will develop a deep and abiding character that transforms tricks into experiences for your audiences.
The secret to rehearsing is that as your confidence increases, you will be drawn into deeper and more complex techniques that nurture real growth in your artistry of magic.
I once had a jazz music teacher who told me that the only difference between the professional musician and me is that the professional rehearses at least one hour a day – consistently. That is the only difference. And he was right. The secret of rehearsals is powerful, compelling and will set you apart from your peers.by Christopher Grant Vice President, Patient Services, Johns Hopkins Medicine International Board of Directors, Aaron Fisher Magic