As a student of communication, one of the first things you learn is the importance of context: where and when something happened defines the meaning of the event itself. Soon enough, one realises that context is everything. What was said is not as important as the context it was said or heard in.
To explain, the line “I was waiting for you!” can take different meanings whether it was said by a friend, by your boss in office, or by a stranger in a dark alley. So can “you are so dead”. The words take on their meaning not only based on who said it, but where and how. This is what we in Magic understand as the “setting” of an effect, act, or show.
Magic and its performance is perceived differently based on the context; everything from the presentation, costume, patter, and the effect itself plays a role in defining this. Yet, the factor that makes the biggest impact remains the context of the presentation: Who was the performer and how was he able to achieve what he did? Where and in what situation was the act performed? Was it an unplanned, chance activity or did a lot of pre-planning and connivance go into achieving the effect? Was this a once-in-a-lifetime experience?
This context of the performance shapes the perception of the performer per se, placing him/her on a continuum of being seen as a cheat, a trickster, a magician, a psychic entertainer, a shaman/witch-doctor, a psychic, or a godman. Further, this perception of the performer defines the impact of the effect and makes all that is necessary to make it a con-game, a trick, a magic, or a miracle.
From an audience viewpoint, where they come in contact with a magician shapes their experiences much – be it on a street, in a mall, a restaurant, a birthday party, a public festivity, or a theatre. Yes! Magic can happen anyplace, but its shaping has to be based and—the experience—limited by the context.
From a performer standpoint, understanding the context well presents an opportunity to work within and beyond the circumstances and make it work to one’s needs. A specially-designed, well-planned, magical locale presents the perfect setting to present memorable magic moments and miracles.
A couple of fantastic places that spring to mind for this are the wonderful Magic Castle in Hollywood and the prestigious Magic Circle HQ in London. With the launch of The Magic Planet, India too is joining the elite club and achieving a perfect context for magical performances.
The Magic Planet is emerging as a never-seen-before venue to present the best of magical experiences. It is now for our magicians to stand up to the occasion and deliver experiences that are memorable and magical.
– This article was originally written for the Magic Academy Trivandrum’s Souvenir for the international attendees at the Planet Magic Launch & Magic Convention (October 2014)