Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mozart's and Beethoven's

For several months now, I have been working to solve two creative magic problems. My rehearsal space (read: attic) in my home is filled with various props and notes/drawings in all stages of development. Many ideas I have are simply waiting for a presentation to be created. Sometimes I have the presentation, but no effect. Other times, I spend all my money to build a prop that works in my head . . . only to find out . . . that's the only place it works . . . in my head! It can be very daunting. At this moment, I have two excellent effects that need motivation, meaningful presentation and a better method. I know they're excellent because I've shown them, in their bare bones state to several people and have received great reactions--Still, I'm not happy with them. To me, they are more than just a "Wow! That was cool." These could be meaningful and powerful effects beyond their visual if I could only find 'what that something is.' Leaning back in my chair trying to solve this problem reminds me of a theory I have had. I'd like to share it with you.


It is the Mozart--Beethoven Theory.

It goes like this.

Creatively speaking, there are two kinds of people in this world, Mozart's and Beethoven's. "Mozart's" are people who have the gift of creativity flowing within them. Their creative output appears effortless and can seemingly be tapped at will. They seem to be devoid of any of the struggles that overtake artists and--to boot, their output is always the best--never a hint of mediocrity. "Beethoven's" on the other hand are people who must struggle for their creativity, they must suffer the rejection, shield the self-doubt and mask the despair of disappointment. They may have many wonderful ideas, only a few may ever be recognized.

Mozart if you remember was a prodigy. He could play the harpsichord at age three (imagine?) and was writing compositions at age four. He wrote his first opera at 13 and was said to be possessed of almost perfect pitch ( a feat never equalled). His companions were amazed when Mozart could learn minuets and trios in a half hours time. His short life produced an incredible body of work (600 compositions). Even more incredible, Mozart had no musical influences, making him one of those rare creative artists who was completely original. His observation that his music came to him completed, already in his head only waiting for his transcription is, at its very worst, astounding.

Beethoven is a different story. He was also considered a prodigy but with a completely different method of creativity. His talents were recognized early by his father, who nurtured these abilities (when he wasn't drinking) with the goal of turning him into "a little Mozart." (shades of John Stuart Mill) Beethoven was forced to tutor under a variety of musical teachers in his early teens including Hadyn. Within a few years he had produced a number of piano sonatas and Symphony 1. His magnum opus, the Ninth Symphony took him four years to write. Beethoven's early life was wracked with abuse at the hands of his father. In life, he was plagued with self-doubt at the same time he dealt with depression, loss of his hearing and severe financial hardship.

Still, Beethoven and Mozart's influence are lauded today with musical compositions that are performed around the world.

Creatively speaking, Beethoven had to work, and work hard to find and then nurture his now recognized genius. He often struggled over each note, each pause, re-writing and re-writing over and over again, never truly happy with what he created.

And so it is--music has parallels in all the creative arts, including magic. I often think of Beethoven and how aspects of his life mirror mine. I constantly struggle over this presentation or that presentation to the point of distraction and . . . despair.

If I could ask for one thing . . . I would ask to be a Mozart.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Fair Lawn, NJ and the mystery man, George

Fair Lawn, New Jersey is about a thirty minute drive from my home in Maplewood, NJ on the Garden State Parkway (provided there is no traffic). This show was this past Sunday February 4, Super Bowl Sunday, and thankfully there wasn't too much traffic on the roads. My performance was scheduled for 3pm but as usual I arrived about thirty minutes prior to set-up and familiarize myself with the surroundings. A very nice couple was throwing a birthday bash for their ten year old daughter who loved magic. In all there were about thirty people in attendance and the performance took place in their living room. These I find are some of the best shows. There is something about performing in someone's home that makes everything better. Perhaps it is that people are usually on their best behavior when in their own (or their friend's home) or maybe its just the energy that is prevalent when someone is within their own space. Nevertheless, there were about 15 adults and 15 children--ages ten to about 16. Adults ranged in age from late 30's to mid 70's. An excellent group. I performed a variety of magic (no escapes) choosing various pieces from my repertoire which included playing cards, coins, silk handkerchiefs, fire and money. There was alot of food catered for this event and I was invited to stay (after the performance and partake in the food festivities) but I declined. After the show I met with many of the adults and gave out my entire stack of business cards, hopefully securing some shows for the future.

As of this writing, I continue to hone the script for my stage show, The Escapist. I am adding more of my personal experiences (lockouts, safe cracking, etc.) that I encountered in my years as a locksmith in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I hope to open The Escapist somewhere (preferably Las Vegas) in the near future. My partner George, one of the best idea men and certainly the best graphic/set designer I have ever met will provide the visuals. He will be storyboarding sections of the script and provide illustrations for the lobby display and some of the effects.

More about the mystery-man, George. In every artistic endeavor, I think it is important for the artist to be able to bounce ideas off of someone else, to have a partner in their creativity. George is such a man--many of my ideas were only half ideas until I told George about them and then he breathed new life into them. Several times, he re-designed and rebuilt props I had been using for years, making them better in the process. He has created posters and flyers for events I have performed around the country. George is a great guy and is one of the most talented people I have ever met. George also knows everybody--well, not everybody--but enough people in the industry--that also are able to help. George created the segments that you can see on YouTube as well as The Escapist logo and key art animation. One interesting story about George--on one of our many meetings, I had mentioned that I needed to shoot a brief host segment for a Discovery Channel pitch. I was thinking of just taking a hi-8 camera and shooting myself on my driveway. George heard me say this and like the masterful director that he is--sprang into action. We were not going to do this on my driveway--he informed me. So George started making calls, right there in the diner where we were having lunch. Inside of an hour he had a theatre space, a camera crew and a design for a set that looked better than anything on television. So, can Vegas be far off with George at the helm? I think not.

I have a few shows scheduled out-of-state in the next few months, including one in Fort Lauderdale Florida.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Coney Island, Fort Lauderdale, London

Its been awhile hasn't it?
January has been a pretty busy month for me, with numerous shows every week. Some were magic, most escape artistry. Thankfully, they were pretty much local (tri-state area). For those unfamiliar with that term, it means New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Shows performed in the past four weeks have left me with a dozen new handcuffs to add to my ever-growing collection. I was able to escape an antique shackle that held my wrists close together and was padlocked on top. Don't know how old it is and the owner was unsure as well. Also was able to escape and keep a set of bilboes and an interesting Belgian Handcuff made by FN Herstal that is secured with a magnet!

I am putting the finishing touches on a new lobby exhibit that will display some of the more unusual handcuffs that I have escaped from over the course of 25 years. It is very cool and I think those attending my shows will find it interesting.

While many of you may be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday, I will be performing in Fair Lawn , New Jersey. This show will be strictly magic (no escapes) and will feature some of my original presentations in sleight-of-hand and platform magic.

I am considering two outdoor publicity events for this year. For years, I have wanted to perform an event at Coney Island and many times I came close to doing it. This year, I would really like to nail something down there. Coney Island is such an iconic piece of America--its like performing at the Empire State building. I have some ideas I am working on there and do not want to betray anything yet. I will post it here first when details become availible.

I have several television projects in the works (some closer to development than others) and I may be heading to Las Vegas in the next few months. In the middle of March, I will be perfroming my escape show in Fort Lauderdale for one night only. London, England is also a possibility this April if a new BBC show pitched to me gets the green-light. Weather is finally back to normal in New York City (temperatures where they should be at this time of the year). the tourists have left town, the subways are less crowded and generally everything is allright with the world.

To the many who email me with ideas and advice, thank you. I apologize for not being as prompt in getting back to you. Managing this blog on a daily basis has been challenging. Please be patient. I will personally answer all those who take the time to write.

World events have made me more introspective and the recent troubles in the Middle East have reminded me of an interesting quote I once read. I will end with that.

Best to all--T

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead