The Little Magical Touches

To perform magical illusions to any successful degree, it is important to be in command of what the audience sees and what they believe before, during and after the trick is performed. So much of what an illusion is about pertains to what you allow the audience to believe, what you say and what you don’t. Knowing this is one of the first steps to being a skilled stage magician.

It is completely permissible to lie through your teeth as part of a stage performance. It’s no different from what actors do, after all. You can pass around one of the props for your show and tell the audience “As you can see, there are no hidden compartments!”, as long as you know they won’t be able to detect that there really is at least one. After all, it’s illusion, you are already lying to them.

However, lies of omission can be a more enjoyable way of getting the audience to believe that you have done something out of the ordinary. “You can see here, there are four coins. Now look as I take one away – and voila, there are still four coins.”. OK, that sounds fairly limp, but the point is that what the audience can see is very different from what actually is. Perhaps there were actually five coins to start with and they could only see four.

Another trick that is occasionally used as part of stage magic is the use of a “shill”. This is someone, known to the magician, who poses as part of the audience and is invited on stage to “assist” with a trick. The magician may well ask the “shill” to confirm that they have never seen each other before, which they will do.