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Magic Newsletter, April 9, 2023

Dear Friends in Magic,
I have a big surprise for you at the end of this email, but I hope you’ll savor the anticipation and start with…
My last three installments have laid out “The Golden Triangle”—three interconnected values that ground and guide the purchases I make, the routines I create, and the shows I compose out of them.
The first angle I discussed is character—the aspects of myself I bring to the fore when I perform. Being clearer and stronger in these choices makes us more distinctive and interesting onstage—always a good thing! But they also help me sift through the barrage of bright-shiny stuff to find items that might be gold for me.
The second angle I bring to bear are the specific venues I work or aspire to work. It is pointless to waste time, money, and “brain-space” on material for venues in which I will never perform. I have found it much more productive to use my working venues as the sharp edge of a blade to cut away time-sink distractions.
And now we come to the third angle: my actual audiences. Not those fantasy audiences who hang on my every word and laugh at every joke, but the real people who are spending their time and money to be there, and assessing if I’m worth it.
In the early days, I wrestled with this. Sometimes the exact same material really connected with a group and sometimes not. There seemed no rhyme or reason for hitting here and missing there… until one day Jeff McBride said words that lifted the scales from my eyes: “Some audiences are there to remember; others are there to forget.”
Whoah! This is one of the truist, wisest things I have ever learned in magic. Some audiences want to think and feel at the magic show; they want morsels to carry home for the hearth. For other audiences, that’s the last thing they want; they’re there for sensory stimulation and release. As Jeff sometimes puts it: “Some audiences are there to think; others are there to drink.” And woe be to us who deliver one kind of show for the opposite kind of crowd.
Thus, for every show, I start by assessing which kind of audience is likely to show up. Often the venue makes it clear. For example, my full-evening theater show with an intermission? Thinkers. Midnight show at the Magic Castle? Drinkers. Other times, I need a conversation with the booker or producer to get a sense of how much alcohol will have been consumed by the time I hit the stage. Whatever I discover, I build my show accordingly.
But alcohol isn’t the only audience factor that guides my repertoire and show-building decisions. I also carefully consider agegender, and cultural background, among others.
And so, which types of audience are you most comfortable with? (Big hint: you are probably already performing for them!) You might also want to identify one or two target audiences—people you want to work for, perhaps because the money is better, the venues are better, or simply because you want a new challenge. As with most things in life, the clearer you are about your targets, the better chance you’ll have of hitting them.
There you have it: my “Golden Triangle.” The three coordinates I use to navigate the rough seas of magic push-sales and information overload. Having this lens has brought so much focus to my work in magic, and I hope it is fruitful for you, too!
When you receive this newsletter, I will be six-weeks out from starting the run of my show Magical Life at the Rhapsody Theater in Chicago. We open on Thursday night, May 18, and run weekends through June 23.
Thus, you might imagine the current state of my studio. There is a large whiteboard with the running order written on it—and lots of extra notes. Here and there are small piles of props for various routines. Scripts are scattered around with red-mark revisions, especially for the four new pieces.
Meanwhile, I am working on the new set with my designer and director Casey McClellan:
Casey and I met during my time in North Texas (2009-2017). After graduating from Austin College as a theater major, he became a working “song and dance man” in New York City before launching two successful businesses: one in electronic content management; the other in theater design, production, and management. When I was preparing Magical Life for its 2019 premiere, I knew I’d benefit from Casey’s many talents and, thankfully, he jumped on board!   
I hope you’ll consider a road trip to experience Magical Life in Chicago. If you happen to come for opening weekend, on May 18-20, you can also meet Casey!
Get your tickets at this link:
Recently, I came across a fascinating piece about what the author Matt Taleb calls an “Antilibrary.”
Inspired by his time with the prolific scholar Umberto Eco (whose personal library held over 30,000 books), Taleb argues in The Black Swan that our unread books are at least as important as our read books.
For one thing, our unread books serve as a daily reminder of what we don’t yet know. This is quite important, since most people overestimate the value of what they know. As Max Maven once put this point to me, “If the only tool you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.”
Beyond intellectual humility, the volumes in our antilibraries inspire us to pick them up and explore. Indeed, many studies have shown a strong correlation between exposure to books and high levels of achievement, along with feelings of success and forward motion in life.
So, about all those magic books on your shelves you haven’t yet read? No guilt! They aren’t a problem at all—even if you never read them… although someday you might. And I invite you to spend a little time on those anti-sides of your shelves!
Finally, it’s time for the big surprise. I am delighted to unveil here that on October 31, 2023, we will be releasing a new and unforeseen book: Eugene Burger: The Workshop Transcripts.
As I explain in the introduction, no one is more surprised by this book than I am. In 2021, when I published Eugene Burger: Final Secrets, I was certain the “posthumous project” was finished. But in the wake of its release, which created extraordinary interest in Eugene’s approach to Equivoque, conversations with some of Eugene's trusted friends helped me realize there would be interest in the publication of complete transcripts of his 1985-1986 workshops—the ones I had on audio. For one thing, these word-for-word transcripts would keep the record straight about what Eugene taught at these events—there has been some confusion about the details. But they would also provide, in effect, a workbook for magicians who really wanted to absorb Eugene’s exact techniques.
I have so much to say about The Workshop Transcripts, and I will do so in upcoming newsletters. One important detail for now: Eugene Burger: The Workshop Transcripts will only exist in a signed (by me) and numbered limited edition—thus it will only be available for purchase from Theory and Art of Magic Press. Also, any profit from sales of the book will be donated to the Magic & Mystery School’s Scholarship Fund—the philanthropic program Eugene helped create in 2012.
So, please stay tuned for more information. At some point this summer, I will announce how copies can be pre-ordered. Also please: if you know friends who will want a copy, encourage them to sign up for this newsletter. All the breaking news will happen here.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about The Workshop Transcripts. Thanks to encouragement from Jamy Ian Swiss and Eugene's executors, Robert Charles and Michael Burke, I’ve been working on this final Eugene book since January of 2022.
As always, stay in touch and thank you for being part of my extended community!
Best Wishes,
Larry Hass
Real-World Magician
Dean of McBride’s Magic & Mystery School
Publisher, Theory and Art of Magic Press