Leaving Las Vegas

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I really enjoyed the Amazing Meeting 7 this weekend, and I didn’t need to go to Las Vegas for it. OK, so I would have gone to Vegas if I could, but the power of the interweb allowed me to watch it all online.

I was particularly fascinated by the panel discussion on Magic and Scepticism. A bit of a circular debate, but central to it was the problem of ethics in mental magic. More specifically do we need to tell the truth when we perform? Do we add disclaimers, and do we lie in our disclaimers? The Panel, unsurprisingly argued for the truth teller. Questioning the performances of Banachek and Derren Brown and hoping that everyone would come completely clean eventually. To paraphrase Penn “we do F***ing magic tricks”.

I’m still not sure as to where I stand in the debate. Ethics is something I wrestle with whenever I write or perform. But I appreciate that “lying” has a place in all performance work, but there are degrees to this and a scale as to what may or may not be acceptable. I’m certainly uncomfortable when spectators are drawn in beyond the level of seeing me as a trickster and we slip into the realm of the pseudo-psychic. Hasty re-writing and looking at my audience management is usually needed, but sometimes it’s purely because the spectator is in a position to want to believe.

Magicians do have an ethical responsibility, but we are also Magicians this often means juggling a complex performance persona.

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