Photo by Robert Lipman

Photo by Robert Lipman

In this part of the process, I start editing out all the ideas and boil them down to the essence of the show. For this, and depending on the complexity of the performance, I like to bring in other creative elements that will help define and make coherent decisions along the way. The Director, Lighting Designer, Set Designer, Composer – all of them are welcome to give some input about the general ideas and also about the possibility of executing them. Having the team together also allows the group energy to build, and the questions and answers that everyone exchanges provide the right background for everyone’s individual contributions later on the project.

I love to dream. I love to put ideas on the table where I initially have no clue how they will be accomplished. But now, that dream needs to match the secrets in order to be worthwhile to pursue the dream. Otherwise, it is just a waste of resources and time for everyone. So, questions are asked and with the answers I have at the time, I make an educated decision on whether it is worth researching more to find better answers or if the current answer is satisfying enough that I know it is possible to achieve the goal (even if later, there are some concessions). Further research is done until you either find an answer or find a wall.

Finding creative solutions for illusions is an interesting but weird process. You never know when the inspiration for the solution will appear. Also, although there may not be a timer on the table, you know that time is always sensitive on these matters. Especially because until you find that solution, that idea can’t go in the show and can’t be written in the script. This convoluted process is where chaos is instilled and the only thing you can do is work, work, work. This work involves research, trying solutions even if in a simpler and smaller scale, understanding why those solutions don’t work and starting all over again. So, how do you decide what is a viable solution or not? How do you know for certain you are on the right path? I can only offer my point of view. 

Every single action we make has an intention behind it. It may be a simple one like picking up something because we need it or a more obscure and complex one like asking a question to distract someone from something else. Nevertheless, whatever we do is perceived and judged by others, even if we don’t want it to be. Magic is a performance art that deals with perceptions, so every single action needs to convey a clear goal, an intention that leaves no room for interpretation in the mind of the audience. Or, at least, that is how it needs to appear. In the shadows, much more can be accomplished. These mechanisms that we use to produce the illusions can’t be dissociated from their “bodies,” but we can understand what their bodies are telling the audience and use that in the creation of the narrative that we are trying to accomplish.

The perception of what happens is one thing, but the reality is another. And that’s how some impossible things happen. My decision is based on these bodies I talk about and how they are perceived. If the audience can relate to them in a logic way, then that can be the solution. There might be a simpler and more direct way, but that only plays a part after we identify that the audience can relate to the action in a logic way. On top of a solution, we keep working to find the essential state of that. And that will be a solution. I do this process a few times with different solutions and then decide the one I feel better serves the goal of the performance. After all, the end result is what counts.

Helder Guimaraes