This week Jonah sits down with Nate Staniforth to discuss disillusionment, determining your intent, and creating visceral effects. Alongside touring the college circuit, Nate is the author of Here is Real Magic and Clouds and Kingdoms.
At nine years old, Nate happened to stumble upon magic after being inspired by Lord of the Rings; he, like Gandalf, wanted to cast spells and seem unstoppable, so he went to his library in search of a book of spells. Instead, he found a book on sleight of hand and proceeded to spend hours perfecting a single coin vanish. After performing his new trick for his classmates and seeing them experience something they couldn’t process, Nate realized how easy it was to pull the rug out from under people, and he didn’t know what to do with this information.
What Nate did know was that the reactions captivated him and he wanted to chase those reactions. Magic was never a recreation or diversion for Nate, it has just been a constant in his life and was the only option he could see.
Before discovering who the best version of Nate is on stage, he went through several phases. For some people, the best version of themselves on stage may be mixing their magic with comedy and theatrics. In the end, however, to create visceral magic it comes down to the intent behind the performance. If you go on stage with the belief that the audience is there to praise you, you cannot create a real genuine connection with them. You, as the magician, are in service to the audience.
For Nate, when he steps on stage, his intent is to make the hairs on the back of their neck stand up. He wants to be able to flip a switch in the spectators mind and have them realize the world through magic. Every trick Nate does in his show is built around this intent. Nate points to David Berglas and Tommy Wonder’s Books of Wonder as examples of magicians who have a clear intent behind their art.
Having grown up in a small town in Iowa, Nate was unfamiliar with the realities of show business. After his first year on the college circuit, he began to burn out. He eventually hit a point in his career that, as a magician, there was nothing remotely magical in his life.
When his disillusionment was starting to greatly impact his ability to perform, Nate took a trip to India to rediscover how he use to feel about magic. During his time in India, Nate began to write and explore different art forms as a way of creative release.
The writing Nate did in India would eventually lead to his book Here is Real Magic which Jonah recommends to anyone feeling disillusioned with their art.
Clouds and Kingdoms
For Nate, it is one thing to talk about magic but it’s another thing to put this into practice in your work. In his book Clouds and Kingdoms, Nate breaks down a handful of the effects he uses in his show and shows how he applies his magic ideals in them.
In magic, you have to reveal far more than you’re concealing to truly push magic forward; the other arts have discovered ways to play to their strengths and allow artists to talk about things that really matter in human life. With magic often stopping at the “did I fool them?” aspect of the art, Nate strives to push further and capture the inherent wonder magic has.
What do you like about 2019 magic? What don’t you like?
Ryan is excited that magic has entered a new golden age where we are seeing an influx of people from different backgrounds and circumstances.
Take Home Point
Ryan wants the audience to prioritize appreciating the work of other artists who are not magicians. If you want to drive your creativity, you have to live with other people’s works and let them inspire you.
Clouds and Kingdoms – Use the code Discourse at checkout for 15% off.