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chaplin

The best magicians have long told us that the method is not the heart of a trick. Magic, after all, is a branch of the theatrical arts, not a species of brain twister, puzzle, or mathematics lesson. The premise and effect are what the audience sees. The rest is for backstage discussion.

To that end, when a magician is planning a routine, a script is very helpful. Here’s a sample script involving a very simple one coin routine. Interestingly, there’s no outward dialogue in this script! But by working a script, a performer can take a mundane set of tricks and create a more compelling performance piece, as follows.

The following effect is what Gerry Deutsch might call “‘perverse magic.”

Effect: a confused, but lovable old man or woman gets very lucky. S/he is not sure if this good luck is a hallucination or not.

Character: A Chaplinesque poor tramp who can’t believe his or her eyes. Older than Chaplin though, not drunk, but the eyeglasses are not always reliable. Time isn’t what it was.  Was it ever?

This is all performed silently. The dialogue in the script you’re reading is the performer’s silent script. Nothing is spoken out loud. Method is not important right now. The script, as per Pete McCabe’s advice in Scripting Magic is from the audience point of view.

1) (An old man or woman with glasses enters. Looks up to the right, then the left, then back to the right, puzzled.) “A coin in the air? No, can’t be. Coins in the air! I’m seeing things. (Takes off glasses and rubs them against shirt.) There they are again! Maybe it’s a spot against my eyeglasses stuck. (Rubs finger from inside to outside–no glass!) Huh? That’s weird, how did my finger…? (Looks at finger) Hey I got an idea–this is strange, I hope nobody is watching this–I’m going to grab one. (Reaches out, there it is!) What the–OMG–This is like when I–let me look at this–Wow.”

2) (Spinning coin in between both hands) “This is so beautiful–from up there! (Holds up in LH) This is so precious. (Puts in RH, closes hand tight. ) Wait is someone there? (Look around for anyone.) The coin is still there, yes! (Checks the coin, close hand again) I’m so happy I found this.”

3) “Wait a second, something funny is happening with that coin, it’s jumping in my hand it’s weird it’s trying to get away!  Omigosh, I think it’s gone. I can’t bear to think that it is. Is it? (Slowly open hand) It’s gone!”

4) (Looking around) “Where did it go, is it back where I got it from? No, did I drop it, no. Did I–wait–what’s that weird twitching under my right arm? It’s omigosh, it’s my coin (Kissing it). So glad. You bad boy. (Deliberately put it back into RH. Shake tight. Wags finger at it:  ‘Bad boy’. Kisses it.) Wait a second, something funny is happening again with that coin, it’s jumping in my hand, it’s pulling my hand away. It’s gone!  Wait something strange happening now with my left armpit (grab the coin from under the L armpit with RH, transfer to LH in order to adjust glasses to see it better.) Oh you crazy coin.”

5) “And it’s real silver! (Bites it, nods his head to confirm, yes it’s real. Bites it again, swallows it. Look of panic.) I swallowed this thing! I’ve got to get it up! (Coughs and eventually a whole slew of coins comes up which he catches in his hat.) Where did all those come from? That’s really strange. (Looks up at audience for a moment, then back at hat. S/he is startled. Turns the hat upside down) The coins are all gone! what’s going on here?”

6) (Stands motionless for a few moments) “Gone. They’re  nowhere. I screwed up. Maybe it wasn’t even real. (Walk towards Stage Right, looks behind him Stage Left, where he first saw the coin. Walk back slowly to that spot and looks again) I just–I know I –how can I –I’m just a loser. What–what’s that? an echo…a shadow…” (S/he reaches gently into the air again with the RH. S/he has something now. S/he rubs the fingers of the right hand together and a slow, long, pour of silver glitter flutters to the floor. S/he looks up, shaken, thankful, at the magic portal that was open for a brief time. See Chaplin photo above. S/he backs away slowly from the remains of the glitter on the floor until s/he is offstage.)