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Magic Newsletter, February 12, 2023

Dear Friends in Magic,
I hope that 2023 is off to a great start for you. When this arrives in your inbox, I will have just wrapped three big shows and will be heading into a week of catching my breath. Even so, I always have time for…
Last October, I started a four-part series on what I call “The Golden Triangle.” This is a model I developed to help me sift through the daily barrage of shiny new magic stuff to see if there any gold in it for me.
Last issue, I discussed how getting clear about one’s performing character helps us cut through the noise. Here, I focus on the second “angle” we can bring to bear: our performing venues.
We are often tempted, or pressured by ad-copy, to spend time and money on trick material for venues we don’t work and will never work. It’s easy for an exciting fantasy to lead us astray, like: “I’ll buy this expensive trick or prop for the mega-illusion show I’ll do someday!” You might laugh, but look around at your piles of “misfit toys”: if you are like me, most of them started in daydreams. 
Instead of that, I feel it is an important step—a real-level-up—for magicians to first become crystal clear about the venues in which they already actually perform. I know you have dreams, and I do too, but what were the settings or venues for your last ten performances? Take a few moments to jot them down on a piece of paper; your list of actual venues has the potential to teach you a lot.
For example, perhaps most of your performances were for family or friends in a casual setting. That’s good to know, because then you can invest your money and creative energy on materials or training that will help you do more of those shows better. Or perhaps, like me in the early days, you’ll discover that most people are booking you to perform stand-up shows for larger groups. Okay then, you need to develop routines with bigger props that play in the vertical plane rather than explore yet another table-top card trick.
At the same time, it’s also natural to want to reach beyond our current venues to some target venues—settings or places where we would prefer to perform—as a new challenge, as the next rung on the ladder, or where the pay or clientele are better. Excellent! This is the path of growth in magic. Yet, if we don’t want to relapse into “fantasy island,” our task is to fully understand the conditions and constraints of those next-step venues so we can develop strong material for them that’s right for our character.
I’m sure you see how this works: as we apply each sharp angle of our model, we become more focused and strategic about what we spend our time and money on. We also create magic routines that are a better fit and less generic than when we are chasing whatever new gew-gaw shows up in our inbox. All that is why my Triangle is pure gold. And there is one more angle to go!    
After I get some rest this week, my full attention turns to my new online course: Building Blocks: Essential Theater Skills for Magicians.
Who is the course for? My fast answer is, every performing magician who doesn’t think they need it! (ha,ha,ha). The more detailed answer is:
—Every magician who wants to be a more powerful, memorable performer.
—Any student of magic who wants to learn deeper secrets of embodied performance.
—Every public speaker who wants to look bettersound better, and deliver with more confidence.
How will the course help you achieve those goals? By developing your skills in three areas of the utmost importance: 
1. Strengthening Your Breath-work and Voice
2. Finding Your Character
3. Developing a Design for Your Look, Props, and Performing Space
During our three 2-hour classes, we will tackle these skill sets through short lectures, exercises, personalized discussion, and homework. The dates are February 23, March 2, and March 9, but don’t get stuck on the dates: everything will be recorded so you can learn this material any time you want. For more information and to register, go to
I have previously recommended the more-or-less daily blog by Gabe the Bass Player. I want to recommend it again because Gabe continues to knock it out of the park on a regular basis.
On January 25, Gabe has something to say about “Learning More Chords.” (As magicians, substitute "secrets," "tricks," or "techniques" for "chords.") Gabe writes, “Great song writers usually know a lot of chords, but you don’t get better at writing songs by learning more chords… . Songwriting is about expression and doing music for a career is about connection via expression.”
A couple weeks earlier, Gabe discusses “A Few Shoe Things,” telling us that onstage, “shoes are a powerful storyteller.” When I first read this, I nearly wept because I often encourage students or consultees to think carefully about their shoes. Why? Because—for whatever reason—shoes are among the very first things audiences look at to assess us.
As Gabe puts this: “The things you wear are whispering.” And I add: do we know what they are saying? Is that what we want them to say?
Wow: no other blog-writer speaks so eloquently about the daily life and craft of being a performing artist.
Last weekend, I delivered an extended workshop in Baltimore as part of The Magic & Mystery School Experience at Poe’s Magic Academy. It was a terrific group of talented magicians, each one trying to clarify their path in magic and move forward along it.
One topic that came up several times was the relationship between magic and storytelling. I suppose that’s because human beings are endlessly hungry to hear, read, and watch stories. Indeed, as Jonathan Gottshall’s superb book teaches, we are The Storytelling Animal.
I also think the topic kept coming up because although virtually every great magician interweaves magic and narrative some of the time, it isn’t at all clear how we can learn to do this effectively.
If combining magic with narrative calls to you, we have some resources at
First, my book Inspirations has a long chapter on the subject, “What’s the Story with Story Magic?” Based on my career-long explorations in this area, I lay out some of the tensions around combining magic and stories and provide some practical takeaways. The book also includes two of my signature story pieces, “Tale of the Rabbi Magician” and “A Common Plea.”
The other vast resource we have in this area is… count them… seven books by Robert E. Neale.
Eugene Burger and Bob Neale, 2009
Bob Neale’s books include countless straightforward tricks without narrative, but I can’t think of another magician who has published so many storytelling routines. Seeing how Bob does it, and seeing the wide variety of his stories, is an education in itself.
If you are new to Bob’s work I recommend starting with his most recent book, Magic Inside Out. I also recommend reading the “Magical Stories” chapter of An Essay on Magic, which includes two of Bob’s favorite stories ever. You can find both of these books, along with the others, by going here.
Thank you for stopping in at the Press and shopping with us. Orders over $50.00 (in the US) get free USPS Priority Mail postage.
Thank you for reading my newsletter and sharing it with your friends. I am always happy to receive feedback. Don’t go anywhere because next issue we will complete the Golden Triangle!
Best Wishes,
Larry Hass
Real-World Magician
Dean of McBride’s Magic & Mystery School
Publisher, Theory and Art of Magic Press