Magic is Not Props

A Single Flower of MagicThe Toronto Globe & Mail panned a new production at the world-famous Shaw
Theater Festival, the Invisible Man.

So what? What's the link to magic? Why should we care about a Canadian
critic's contempt for the direction and script-writing abilities used to
dispatch a great story?

Because the critic suggests the show would be vastly improved by different or
more meaningful use of the magic tricks in the play.

The play serves as a "cautionary tale" "of how a number of magic tricks don't
add up to a magical evening of theatre." ("Theatre" means "Theater" in
Metric).

The result, says the critic, means "only connoisseurs of (bad) Victorian
melodramatics and stage gothic could possibly find this hokey concoction a
better alternative to a night of cleaning up the garage."

Hokey? Did ye say "hokey?"

Indeed. The critic believes even the magic tricks used to demonstrate the
invisible man's invisibility were hokey and worthy of contempt.

The critic asks rhetorically, "Why would someone like Munro resort to the
cheapest trick in a director's book — an extra firing his gun on one corner of
the busy stage to distract us while a magic stunt is put into place — when a
simpler, black-box setting could have done the trick better?"

Purists correctly object the use of a gun shot to distract from a poorly
executed vanish may be the cheapest trick in a director's book, but it certainly
is not magic or a magic device.

But this critic is writing as a lay-person and slack should be accorded.

However, there is no reason to degrade the utility and beauty of a Black Art
or mirror box by using the gutter-spawned term "black-box setting."

Many a magician has used and will continue to use a "black-box" method to
vanish, produce, or transform objects or people. The magic of the "black-box" is
not the box, or the "blackness" but the effect it produces. Magic cannot be
reduced to props or methods.

But that is the point of the critic's earlier conclusion that "magic tricks
don't add up to a magical evening."

There is a story – likely an urban legend – of the great magician Harry
Kellar's trip to a remote town where he found a magic store. The store owner was
so overwhelmed by Mr. Kellar's visit that he offered the master magician any
trick in the store as a gift.

The proprietor assumed the magician would select the most expensive or
elaborate trick and he was prepared to make the sacrifice. Mr. Kellar selected a
Match to Flower gimmick and thanked the man. Months later he learned Mr. Kellar
used the gimmick to impress the President and First Lady during an informal
gathering.

The First Lady was quoted as saying, "it was pure magic."

The President nodded in agreement but observed, "still it would have been
better if he had produced endless bouquets of flowers made of feathers from a
heavy steel cone locked onto a thick wooden platform on a stage filled with
beautiful and distracting dancers."

So true.

You can read the full review of The
Invisible Man at today's edition of The Globe and Mail
.

Magic Harry Kellar Magic News Theater Magic Secrets

A Single Flower of MagicThe Toronto Globe & Mail panned a new production at the world-famous Shaw
Theater Festival, the Invisible Man.

So what? What's the link to magic? Why should we care about a Canadian
critic's contempt for the direction and script-writing abilities used to
dispatch a great story?

Because the critic suggests the show would be vastly improved by different or
more meaningful use of the magic tricks in the play.

The play serves as a "cautionary tale" "of how a number of magic tricks don't
add up to a magical evening of theatre." ("Theatre" means "Theater" in
Metric).

The result, says the critic, means "only connoisseurs of (bad) Victorian
melodramatics and stage gothic could possibly find this hokey concoction a
better alternative to a night of cleaning up the garage."

Hokey? Did ye say "hokey?"

Indeed. The critic believes even the magic tricks used to demonstrate the
invisible man's invisibility were hokey and worthy of contempt.

The critic asks rhetorically, "Why would someone like Munro resort to the
cheapest trick in a director's book — an extra firing his gun on one corner of
the busy stage to distract us while a magic stunt is put into place — when a
simpler, black-box setting could have done the trick better?"

Purists correctly object the use of a gun shot to distract from a poorly
executed vanish may be the cheapest trick in a director's book, but it certainly
is not magic or a magic device.

But this critic is writing as a lay-person and slack should be accorded.

However, there is no reason to degrade the utility and beauty of a Black Art
or mirror box by using the gutter-spawned term "black-box setting."

Many a magician has used and will continue to use a "black-box" method to
vanish, produce, or transform objects or people. The magic of the "black-box" is
not the box, or the "blackness" but the effect it produces. Magic cannot be
reduced to props or methods.

But that is the point of the critic's earlier conclusion that "magic tricks
don't add up to a magical evening."

There is a story – likely an urban legend – of the great magician Harry
Kellar's trip to a remote town where he found a magic store. The store owner was
so overwhelmed by Mr. Kellar's visit that he offered the master magician any
trick in the store as a gift.

The proprietor assumed the magician would select the most expensive or
elaborate trick and he was prepared to make the sacrifice. Mr. Kellar selected a
Match to Flower gimmick and thanked the man. Months later he learned Mr. Kellar
used the gimmick to impress the President and First Lady during an informal
gathering.

The First Lady was quoted as saying, "it was pure magic."

The President nodded in agreement but observed, "still it would have been
better if he had produced endless bouquets of flowers made of feathers from a
heavy steel cone locked onto a thick wooden platform on a stage filled with
beautiful and distracting dancers."

So true.

You can read the full review of The
Invisible Man at today's edition of The Globe and Mail
.

Magic Harry Kellar Magic News Theater Magic Secrets

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