The Silent Magician
I was talking to a friend about performance and communication. Specifically, performance as it relates to magicians and mentalists. You see, my friend is a professional magician and goes by The Magic Nate.
The great thing about his show is that no matter which routine he’s performing, be it the 10-minute show or the hour and a half long show, he doesn’t utter a single word.
From the stage, that is. The audience can be heard laughing, clapping, gasping and cheering all throughout the performance.
The show is really exciting. Once you see the faces of anyone in the audience, you’d likely agree that his is one of the most captivating shows you could watch.
How is it that in a performance that typically requires so much explanation, instruction following, and audience participation, that he can get by for over an hour without saying anything at all?
In the most basic sense, I’d say it’s body language. But it feels like so much more than that. From his perspective, he’s moving, using facial expressions, interacting with props, etc. But in mine, and in the minds of the audience, we fill in what isn’t being said with what we imagine to be happening, or imagine is being conveyed.
While enjoying the show, the audience is further enraptured and involved in the performance by putting a bit of themselves into the performance. In the lack of words, they can fill in their own story; insert a bit of themselves into a form of entertainment where they’re often only told what to do and what is happening.
I’d almost liken it to reading a book compared to watching a movie.
In both, there is a story playing out in front of you. With the movie, the costume, character appearance, tone of voice, the entire world is laid out for you to see. It’s given to you. With a book, you are given an opportunity to create nearly all of the details.
Many people build a strong and personal connection to well-written literature. They’re transported to another world with characters that can feel as real as your neighbor (assuming of course that you are familiar with your neighbor).
So yeah, Magic Nate has a unique show. While I definitely may have overanalyzed the silent aspect of it, watching the presentation with this in mind may give you a different perspective on the function of speech when conveying an idea.
So there’s a bit of insight into how my brain works at times. You can learn some interesting things from the most unexpected of places. Like gleaning insights on communication from watching a magician communicate with his audience, without language.