60 minutes with Eugene Burger
British Ring IBM Eastbourne Convention, September 2004
Reviewed by Roger Woods
This lecture was a highlight of the Eastbourne Convention. Eugene Burger has something of a reputation as a magical 'guru' and the contents of this brilliant presentation showed why. What follows is just a distillation of this wisdom from my meagre notes. He began by explaining that the most important thing was how magic was performed.
He then performed a simple yet effective coin revelation based on 'Fading Coin' by Takahashi (Genii, March 2000) to illustrate his point. I'll bet that many of those attending will be adding this to their repertoire but I do hope they give it the presentation it deserves as shown by Eugene. In acknowledging the source of the effect he also stressed crediting saying that when a gift is given we must give credit to the giver – an important issue which gained applause.
He stressed the need in preparation to write down everything, go away and come back later to your writings and edit those scripts saying "the audience will never think your magic is more important than you think it is" to stress the great importance of thinking about presentation. He felt that most magic was presented as stunts which are not magical. He demonstrated this further by showing a routine involving the finding of a chosen card in an envelope in seven different ways:
1. As a stunt, (no 'framework' around the effect to make it magical).
2. As a prediction (a hard sell, the problem being that if you could predict the future why were you not winning the lottery or at Monte Carlo?).
3. As a matter of will power (as Chan Canasta – 'I will make you do my will').
4. As a mystery (providing a framework without using a lot of words).
5. As a dream (again provides a 'framework').
6. As a story (Eugene used the western theme of a 'dead man's card').
7. As an explanation of inevitability (it was inevitable that you would chose the card in the envelope).
He discussed the pros and cons of each presentation favouring the latter as the strongest for his own character. This was a masterful analysis.
Eugene is firmly of the opinion that most people throw magic away saying "fear of the fall makes magic trivial" and encouraging us to think "what do you want your magic to be?"
This was a significant and thought provoking lecture. If you want to delve further into Eugene's philosophy on magic check out his many books and articles for further details and his excellent website www.magicbeard.com which includes some of his essays.
© Dr Roger Woods AIMC, October 2004