Bringing Card Magic to the Stage with Alan Marchese
March 14th, 2019
card magic, developing, emotion, performance, spanish magic, Stage performance
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Alan Alfredo Marchese joins Jonah for episode 154 to discuss choosing effects, creating emotion, and the Spanish School of Magic. Originally from Argentina, Alan now lives in Spain where he has earned a reputation for taking effects and turning them into powerful moments for his audience.
In 1972, growing up in Buenos Aires, a 12-year-old Alan saw his friend performing Professor’s Nightmare which was the intial spark for his journey into magic. His friend introduced him to the man who would become his magic teacher. His teacher owned a magic store where Alan would help demonstrate and build tricks every day after school.
Alan went off to study at University, where he proceeded to work as a Merchant Marine Officer and Professor of Physical Education. He left both these jobs behind when he started to perform magic, primarily doing kid’s birthday parties.
His views on magic changed when he attended the FISM hosted in Madrid where he met and fell in love with a girl; he moved to Spain when he was 27 to be with her. After struggling to find a job in Spain, he attended a magic convention where he competed in a gala show. From there he received his first contracts and people began to recognize him as a professional. Moving to Madrid also allowed him to travel back and forth to Barcelona where he worked alongside Juan Tamariz to develop magic.
Juan Tamariz’s Influence
Alan credits Juan for having the biggest impact on his magic. Since he was 14, Alan has known Juan. Alongside Alan’s teacher, Juan and Aan would stay up late at a bar discussing magic until 6 am when the rest of the magicians had gone off to bed. Where he admits he’s not skilled in coming up with ideas, Alan is extremely skilled at taking concepts and building on them, finding the changes that need to be made, which is an important skill to Juan.
Juan’s influence taught Alan that you need a solid foundation in your magic if you wish to perform great magic. When you analyze Juan’s teachings, you realize that he has compiled the theory of the greatest thinkers, like Vernon and Ascanio, and put them together to create a fundamental basis for his magic.
If you want to perform quality material, you need to read books, Alan says. Every effect he performs was pulled from a book because the newer material isn’t very strong compared to the classics. While Alan may put his own twist on the details of an effect, the underlying methods and principles remain the same.
When he’s choosing effects, he tries to think like a layperson to find tricks that will make the spectator say “oh, what?”. To do this, you need to have a criteria for what makes a good trick. Alan goes on to explain that his criteria is based around the Carlyle Principle:
- When Vernon and friends were at the Magic Castle, they were trying to decide on which magician to see. Carlyle recommended standing at the exit and asking the audience to describe the effects they saw. If the description was simple, that was the magician they saw.
If the effect cannot be explained with simple language, then Alan feels like it’s not a memorable effect. Above all else, Alan wants his spectators to remember the magic.
Card Magic on the Stage
You only need a regular deck of cards to perform on stage. To make card tricks work on stage, however, you need to rely on the audience at the front to signal to the audience at the back that magic is happening even if they can’t see the pips on the cards. If the performer has done enough to bring out the reactions in the crowd, the people at the back won’t remember they couldn’t see the card.
The second option is, when doing table work, projecting the performance on a screen. However, Alan warns that you shouldn’t place the screen behind the performer and project the performer; the audience’s attention will be pulled away from the performance and you will lose your connection with them. Highlighting Juan as an example, Alan recommends have a screen that only projects what is on the table placed directly beside the performer. This allows the audience to keep their attention on the magician while being able to see the moves being done on the table.
There are a variety of emotions you can add inside a show, Alan explains. However, to bring your audience through these emotions, you need to be aware of what you want the audience to feel. This requires analyzing what you want them to feel at specific parts in the show; looking at the emotions inherent in the effects you perform; and studying emotions as a whole. If you can understand how an audience is feeling, you can make the necessary changes to improve your overall set.
It is necessary to change the emotions people are feeling or your audience will get bored. This is why when your choosing your effects you should be viewing them as almost bare bones, waiting for a shell to be put over top.
Spanish School of Magic
The Spanish School of Magic focuses primarily on strong card effects. Alan credits Juan Tamariz for this due to his strong influence on the current generation of Spanish magicians, like Woody Aragon and Dani Daortiz. Juan took Ascanio’s and Vernon’s teachings, and used them to push magic to another level. He was considering methods, symbolism, effects, presentation and structure in a conscious way, rather than the intuitive way most professionals were following. Juan put all of this together in his Five Points of Magic.
However, Alan highlights that the Spanish School of Magic is really about improving magic. Every year, Spanish magicians come together to share their methods and theories, rather than keep their creations secret.
What do you love about 2019 magic? What do you hate?
Alan likes that manipulation has changed over the years. Where before it was seen as juggling, modern performers have been able to move it into the magic world.
Alan dislikes the current state of TV magic as the effects often being done on the show couldn’t be done in a traditional setting.
Take Home Point
Jonah liked the idea of adding variety to an act and in the tricks themselves to create a variety of emotions.
Alan reminds magicians not to be afraid to do card tricks on stage. You don’t need big illusions to be memorable.
Alan will be performing at the Magic Castle June 24th-30th.