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Conjurers’ Glossary

So, you want to Think Like a Conjurer?

You'll need a working understanding of several theatrical and literary terms. These topics are discussed throughout The Ron Bauer Private Studies Series, and understanding their meanings will help you better follow what RB is talking about. He is, you see, your very own writer, producer, and director. And, he's always using terms like these...

Producing a big anything in hopes of instantly intensifying the climax of a magic trick.
Also see: flop sweat.

A dramatic pause.

The specific arrangement of actions, including the script and props. In rehearsal, blocking refers to putting all the props in their various positions as you ROUGHLY talk yourself through the ENTIRE script.

Casual Handling
A style of handling properties that appears real, as opposed to "natural." This is very important if you feel a little "guilty" handling your props.
Refer to: #5 Hornswoggled Again!.
Also see: verisimilitude.

The "answer" to the dramatic question.

Opposition or disagreement between or among characters or forces that motivate the plot. Drama (and FUNNY comedy) requires conflict!

The consistency of the characteristics of the performer, plot, and props, as seen by the audience during the performance.

A signal for an action to be carried out during a performance.

Denouement (DAY-noo-mahn)
Comes AFTER a climax. The final resolution or clarification of a dramatic or narrative plot.
Refer to: #11 Mechanical Deck.

Direction for Misdirection
Hiding the secret out in the open.
Refer to: #2 Sudden Death Gypsy Curse and #3 Tony Chaudhuri's Feminine Side.

En Route Principle
Placing the "magic machination" between two plot points of the narrative.

The emotional component of a performance.

Explanation of what's going on through narration.

Feint (FAYNT)
A deceptive action calculated to divert attention from one's real purpose; or it's a forthright imitation of a deceptive action or actions to come.

Flop sweat
The feeling of humiliation that overcomes one when realizing the audience is not with him in any way.

Ideal Situation
The audience has the worst possible perception for them, and the best possible perception for you.
Refer to: #1 Gadabout Coins Revisited.

An overt action or facial expression that communicates an idea to the audience.

Also known as a tag.

Beginning of the narrative that either establishes or begins to establish the premise. It often includes setting up the situation and planting ideas.
Refer to: #18 Xerox Money.

Overly dramatic presentation similar to burlesque and farce.
Refer to: #1 Gadabout Coins Revisited.

Directing attention to something in order to draw attention away from something else.
Refer to: #1 Gadabout Coins Revisited.

The story or sequence of events, also known as "patter."

Any movements or expressions used to convey the narrative.

Usually the climax of a situation. Sometimes it can be a cue for applause, but more often the tag line is used to cue the audience to applaud.

What an audience believes it sees or hears or smells or tastes whether or not it is correct.

Performance Script
Much more than "the patter." Read the inside covers of any of the twenty-four Ron Bauer Private Studies Series books for details.

Provide information to get an audience ready to instantly understand an upcoming idea such as a punch line or tagline.

The arrangement of the action and incidents that make up the story; the story line, or sequence of events in a narrated or presented work. It's between the premise and the payoff.

Used to control the continuity of the piece. This is a "What If" statement.

The presentation (the "patter", plot, staging, and technical handling) is developed from a premise.

Setting up the audience's expectations through exposition.

Punch line
The ending of a joke.

Running lines
An acting technique for learning a script, which is basically going through the script quickly, without energy, to make sure you learned them all.
Refer to: #6 Owed to Poker Dan.

The various plot points that give the audience the information needed to understand an upcoming situation.

Show & Tell
A performance remniscent of the classroom activity in which a child shows an object to the other children, and tells them about it. There's no drama; and no talent or training are needed. It's something anyone can do because it's easy. Showing a puzzle, incidentally, is still Show and Tell. It's not "a mystery" no matter how much they "wonder" how it works. By its very nature, a Show and Tell performance is a struggle for both the performer and the audience. Each has to work to simulate any real enthusiasm for the experience.

Stage business
The gestures and movements a performer makes during a performance.

Stage wait
An unintentional delay during a performance.

The placement of the props and performer within the performance space.

A plot that runs parallel, but is secondary to the main plot, e.g., the Civil War is the subplot to the story line about Scarlett O'Hara.

What you say without saying it. Even if you lack training as an actor, you can effectively communicate the subtext by NOT trying to ACT, but REACT. subtext is too complex to cover here or in just one of the Private Studies, so RB has included various references and tips throughout the Series.
Refer to: #2 Sudden Death Gypsy Curse and #18 Xerox Money.

Wondering what's going to happen next, such as "waiting for the other shoe to drop."

When there is one, follows a punch line of a joke. The purpose of a tag is to get an additional laugh from a joke. This used to be called a kicker.

Tag line
In effect, a punch line for an entire piece, not just a single joke. Signals the climax, and is how you cue your audience to applaud. Ideally, in a magic performance piece, a tag line should also make clear that you have manipulated the entire event.
Refer to: #3 Tony Chaudhuri's Feminine Side and #6 Owed to Poker Dan.

Any noise a prop makes, such as two coins clinking.

Anything that reveals theatrical devices to the audience; an action that tips off the audience that you're "up to something."

An overall subject idea, e.g., a western chase adventure.

One of the rules of theater described by Aristotle that states action, time, and location should be consistent.

Improvising comments, preferably not merely exposition.

The appearance of being real.
Also see: Casual Handling.