The lockdown is slowly ending and things start a slow return to normal… but it’s a ‘new normal’. As magicians resume performing at events, social distancing is going to be a key issue that needs to be planned.
Social distancing in one form or another will be here for some time so if you are planning to perform magic in live situations, it’s important that you spend time planning how your close up effects need to be changed to suit the new environment.
How can magicians adapt their material when live events resume?
Not so ‘Close-up’ magic
The key here is ‘distance’. Even as things begin slowly returning to normal, many spectators will still have their own level of what feels ‘too close’. You can’t know that in advance.. so you need to assume a level of distance always.. unless invited to be nearer by the spectator.
The effects in your performing sets need to be chosen or adapted to remove the need for spectators to touch the props. Having a spectator name a card, rather than pick one… placing props on a small table or just keeping them in your hands… Changing routines so coins jump from one of your hands to the other, rather than to a spectators hands..
Lots of changes and challenges there. But it’s really not as hard as it first appears. We’ve all experienced spectators that like to examine everything.. They usually have to be controlled carefully.. The plus side of social distancing may be a decrease in those attention seekers. Can you use this distance to your advantage..
Can they see you?
Performing magic from a ‘comfortable’ and ‘safe’ distance means you should ensure the magic you do is very visible and clear. For card effects, use large index playing cards that are easier to see at a distance or even use a jumbo size deck for some effects.
As you won’t be able to stand too close to your spectators, your effects need to be performed at chest level or head height (rather than at waist level). Effects performed at waist height will not easily be seen by your spectators.
Make small changes to the magic tricks you already perform
It’s easy to panic and think that you will have to change your whole working material, but it really isn’t that hard to adjust, once you relax and think about the small stages within each effect. Tiny adjustments are all that’s needed in many of the staple magic tricks magicians perform close-up.
Magic Tricks For Social Distancing Magicians
Let’s look at some examples of magic tricks that are perfect for social distancing situations. These effects can be used by any magician performing magic after the Covid-19 lockdown ends.
Ambitious Card – As picking cards and getting them signed could be problematic get them to choose a card by:
Dribbling the cards
Riffle and ask to say stop
Ask them to name a card and use that one
Deal and say stop
Use blank face cards and write their name on them.
Card to Mouth – No card to mouth so change to card to top pocket or card under glass.
With card tricks, it’s a great opportunity to open it out and perform to a group as much as you do individually. The distance allows you to hold a larger group’s attention. For example: Multiple Selection routines will play well to a crowd or table - See Card Revelations
Sponge Balls – The staple effect in most sponge ball routines has always been the balls jumping to the spectator hands or multiplying in their hand, but that can be adjusted..
If a table is available you can utilise 2 squeakers, one that works and one that doesn’t.
Can’t use a spectators hand so change the ending to:
Changes to large sponge ball
Changes to sponge rabbits
Changes to a square
Something & Nothing sponges
For the right crows use a sponge ding dong?
You don’t get the surprise of the spectator opening their hand, but the effect above each to produce a nice surprise climax that will compensate nicely.
Bill Switch - Rather than borrow money, use blank paper and write or draw on it. Use fake money, you could make up a template that you can add your contact details on.
Invisible Thread/Levitations – If you currently use Loops, consider trying ITR’s instead so the effect/levitation can play bigger
Sven Pads – Go large with a big SvenPad A4 or A5 so the audience can see from further away. Include page numbers on the bottom of each page so rather than flicking and asking to say stop you could just ask for a page number. This could work if every force page (short page) has the next page number written on it i.e. long 1 short 2, long 2 short 3, long 3 short 4 etc. So a number is named (eg 25), you slowly flick through the pages, showing all different, and stop at page 24. Show this page saying, if you said 24 you would have this. Now turn the next page (short 25) rather than flick and show the force page.
Alternatively you could have the force pages as the long pages so you can flick from the back of the pad (which may be easier and give a better view for the audience). In this case the force (long) pages would be numbered so as you flick backwards through the pad, you stop at 26, then turn the next page to the long 25
Jumbo Invisible Deck – There’s not much need for me to go into the reasons why you should perform the invisible deck.. Every magician knows how powerful a device this is.. Time to go for a large invisible deck
Ring Flite – As you can’t borrow a ring, use your own, but attach a tag to it which you can write the spectators name across.
Ring on String – Again, can’t borrow a ring so why not Go Large and learn a version using a large ring and rope – see David Williamson, Daryl etc.
Ben Williams Anything would still work well as this uses a “verbal” peak.
Apps – There are many great Apps out there that work with a spectator using their own phone.
- Inject 2.0
- Real List
Portable Table/Case - Why not use a portable magic table when performing walk around or table magic. You could even carry larger props in the case that you wouldn’t normally use your close up set eg Large Sven Pad, Magic Square (A4 or white board), Staple Gun Roulette, larger 21st Century Phantom.
You can also use the case/table for a chop cup or cups & balls routine. Also the magic table can be used as an anchor for an ITR routine
For years, close-up magic has dominated magic performance, but now it’s time to look at many of the stage magic effects available, and consider how these could be scaled down for a magician practicing social distancing.
Learn a few stage or parlour effects that can also work in a close up situation such as:
Read books such as Maximum Entertainment that talk about scripting, stage presence etc.
Social Distancing for magicians is not as difficult as if first appears
There are thousands of effects that are perfect for performing magic whilst socially distancing. It doesn’t require you to throw away your whole act and start again.. Just work through it and identify the ‘touch points’, moments when your spectators hold a prop or come close to you. Work around those moments, and look for ways to build a connection with a spectator through the routine itself.
If you have any questions about anything in this post, or would like one of our magicians to help you pick material for your specific act, just contact us and we will be happy to help.