Why SHOWMANship is King.

“The most valuable single product of the show business today is that quality known as personality. That set of characteristics, qualities, and mannerisms which distinguishes and characterises a person as a unique individual constitutes a complex commodity known as his personality”
(SHOWMANSHIP FOR MAGICIANS, Dariel Fitzkee, 1943).

The most vital antidote to counteract mediocrity in one’s performance is Showmanship. It’s what separates the good from the great. It is one of those untameable skills that can never be perfected. However, it is one that creates a new world and atmosphere for a performer as he takes on the act.

As the years pass, I realise the importance of being a natural SHOWMAN. It’s the umbrella of Magic. Under it lies misdirection, illusion, sleight of hand and style. To simplify the idea of Showmanship, it is helpful to look at Personality. To me, being a Showman means taking on a Personality. Many Magicians are quite different in their mannerisms, in the way they act and also in the way they speak when they perform; as opposed to their usual social behaviour. It’s not just Magicians though. It’s pretty much everyone across the ENTIRE arts and entertainment industries. And that’s because we, as performers, are essentially performing an ACT. And with that, comes the responsibility of performing it WELL. A famous saying amongst Magicians, “A Magician is an actor playing the part of a Magician”. This underlines the points above.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out how to be a Showman. Aiming to be a great actor with a true, relatable story that is told through a series of Magic effects, is the ultimate goal. It is what makes a performance emotional. Provoking emotion is what Magic stands for. Being a great technical performer has many benefits. However, all of that will be let down if the act is not truly believable for the audience.

Recently, I have been focusing on the mechanics of being a great Showman. Using busking as the platform, I have tried out many different ideas and personalities with my performances. First and foremost, I see myself as a CONscious ARTiste. It’s a term I came up with to describe what I do on the streets of London. It’s essentially a hustle without any negative connotations to it. I go up to random strangers on the streets. I get their consent to do a Magic trick and after I complete my repertoire, I say these exact words, “If you enjoyed the Magic, I’d appreciate any tips”. And that’s it. Yet, it’s the story behind why I do this, how I do this and how my audience can relate to it, that embodies SHOWMANSHIP.

SHOWMANSHIP has to be unique to the performer. The story has to be told intricately through the eyes of their alter ego. I’ve had my fair share of shitty performances. But I’ve mostly had jaw dropping performances. And every time I look back on each performance, I am pleasantly surprised to realise how good of an actor I can be. But don’t miss the sucker punch.