What is Stage Magic?
Stage magic is the performance of magic tricks for a large audience presented on… Surprisingly.. a stage. Almost always there is an illusion involved, which aims to use sleight of hand, or illusion techniques to convince the audience that what they are seeing is in fact exactly all it seems. In actuality, there is always something going on behind the scenes. Stage magic is designed specifically for the purpose of being performed on stage.
The goal is for these magicians and illusionists to make their tricks appear seamless even when the performer themselves is placed under extreme stress. This is especially true if their show is made up of a combination of complex procedures or steps, where each step must happen perfectly in sync each time in order to avoid possible harm to the performer. Sometimes the smallest mistake could prove to ruin the whole show for the audience, should it be messed up too terribly to the point that the performer cannot recover from the loss of illusion. Once the audience loses interest in what is being done on stage, it is game over for the one performing.
The History of Stage Magic
There is a rich history behind magic performed on stage. When you think of magic tricks, often the first of the famous magicians to come to mind is Harry Houdini. It’s true that Houdini has had a huge role to play in innovating the way that stage magic is performed today, since introducing a number of new tricks to the magic industry that have been in circulation since his time working as one of the world’s most revered stage magicians. Still, Houdini is far from being the first name to grace the stage. Stage magic has been around for so long, that you could even trace the art of illusion for entertainment back to the ancient Egyptians.
It’s widely believed that the first documented “magician” was named Dedi, a man reputed to have performed tricks such as conjuring up a number of balls out of thin air and even “resurrecting” a headless bird from death before his audience’s eyes. It’s this type of far reaching history that makes magic performed today all the more enriched, since it’s something that has been so well documented and practiced all across the world. Tricks performed today are developed by magicians and illusionists from all walks of life, so magic performed on stage itself really has no one true place of origin. It’s an entertainment art form enjoyed by so many enthusiasts of all skill levels, from backyard card flipper to top professionals, that really bring their own personalities into their performances.
Moving away from ancient documented “magicians” from many countries, even apart from Egypt, there was actually an origin of what we now see as modern magic performed on stage. The honor of a founding father of magic performed on stage would be Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. He has gained his widely recognized reputation due to the innovation he brought to stage magic, and how he somehow breathed life into his magic theatre performances in Paris back in 1845.
Types of Stage Magic
You’ll hardly see the same type of performance from any one magician to another, even if the trick is the same, since personality plays a key part in the design of pulling off an illusion by capturing the attention of the crowd in just the right way. There are many categories of magic performed on stage for entertainment purposes. These categories include vanishing acts, transformation, escape, prediction, levitation, and so on. How they are all performed depends on the type of trick, the skill of the performer, and even the layout of the stage provided.
How to Build Stage Magic illusions
Have you been wondering how to build illusions for your own magic show to be performed on stage? Stage magic can be built relatively easily nowadays, at least as far as procuring the right props and devices go. As for the skill, that’s up to you to hone with years of practice in the art of illusion and sleight of hand. As for where to find some really good contraptions, check out this huge illusion plans section
A book like “How to Be an Illusionist” by JC Sum and “Modern Illusions” by Tom Palmer are some good places to start, for the beginner magician looking for a place to get his or her feet wet. There are plenty of ideas and tips for your stage magic illusions that are easy to follow along with, even if this is your first attempt at setting up a working set. For those who have little patience with reading plans, there are CD illusion plans available that will appeal to visual learners who prefer visual aids to really get a good idea for what they’re working with.