When it comes to choosing routines and effects for our repertoire there are a diverse criteria we can follow.
Maybe be we have been working a technique or a new gimmick and we want a routine where we can use it. Maybe we choose a routine because it uses a different prop and we look for more variety of elements in the show. We may select one because it is technically more accessible, because it is angle-free or because it resets itself at the end. We may select one routine among others by questioning us, which one got the stronger effect? We can select one because we think it is more memorable than others and we believe people will remember it better. We can also choose a routine because it just works fine even though we don’t know why. We can select a routine trying not to repeat effects to avoid monotony in a session; we can even go further by trying no not to abuse a certain type of emotion… or we can select one just because we love it. There’s a lot of reasons why we could select pieces for our repertoire.
Sometimes (in the cold lonely night) I ask to myself, It is a card transformation effect on its own that fascinating? It is the idea of separating the colors of the deck is that interesting? Do I believe that the stunt of locating the selected card is by itself that appealing? Maybe our audiences care less for those things for what they are than we would like to admit. Maybe when they care for them is because of us, because we care and we make them care.
Of course the magic we do got to be strong, well structured, memorable, entertaining, thrilling… but it is “us” what makes the difference, it is us what make our performance unique, worthwhile and lasting. Almost anyone with patience and discipline can perform any routine, master any sleight, memorize any line… But for better or worse, no one can be us more authentically than us.
I remember perfectly a close-up session Pablo Zanatta performed at Teatro Encantado in Madrid a few years back. Pablo is an argentine magician, he is a very deep connoisseur, such a charismatic person and the finest technician. He was truly outstanding that night, a wonderful performance very hard to forget. That night I also leant an important lesson, it made his performance even more memorable to me. Turns out I am kind of obsessed with how to structure the methods in my magic (you’ll have the opportunity to see that if you read here), I am always looking for the more efficient, deceptive and optimal way to accomplished the effects. As I was watching Pablo perform, I was amazed because the way he structured his magic, it was so awkward to me, very direct and technical demanding, unfamiliar… I wouldn’t in a million years take the decisions that he took, but surprisingly to me it just felt perfect that way, smooth, authentic, strong… I understood that way was just perfect, perfect FOR HIM. He created his own path for many years and when you see him perform you can breathe all that, you can tell his magic is his, no one can fake that. I admire him for that.
(Note: The point it is not at all that anyone can do whatever shitty thing and it’s OK because it is his own shit. Please reread ithe whole thing in case of doubt)
Maybe that’s why I like to question myself (mostly in the cold lonely night too), Which routine talks more about me? Which one let me express better who I am? How I can manage to make this routine talk more about me? It could be changing, adding or removing a line, a gesture, an effect, a move, a silence, rethinking a whole phase I am not comfortable with, not performing the routine at all…
Even if we perform our routines flawlessly, what if none talks about us more than other? That for sure wouldn’t be a compliment.
I think everything we do is a reflection of what we are, everything in what we get involved in gets impregnated with our essence. That process happens naturally; all we have to do is not resisting to it or preventing it from happening.
What would we do if we let it happen and we do not like what see? Well, If we have the guts, LIKE A LOT. That is one of the greatest things of magic, it throws your flaws to your face (Gabi dixit) and it’s up to you to deal with the situation or ignore it.
If we have been working (and struggling) a routine for five years, I think very few things could talk more of ourselves than that five years “marriage”. I think “marriage” is the appropriate word for that process because the relationship with our routines is alive, it changes throughout the years as the routines change and as we change too. Sometimes you lose confidence in a routine and eventually it stops working (just like a marriage). I think I have fallen in love with all of my favorite routines, I have hated them all for a little while too, but hey! I don’t want to air my dirty laundry here!
That’s why I think if we work our heart out in our magic, in a way it is our repertoire who chooses us much more than we choose our repertoire.
Thanks for reading!
Barueri, SÃO PAULO