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Transformations (Creating Magic Out Of Tricks) Review

Official Review

March 10th, 2011 9:50am
Rating:
Reviewed by Christopher Carey
"Sleight of hand, close-up work is what I do," he says. "But what I love about it is that it's a science, an art, a philosophy. It's such a huge discipline that you're constantly learning, and I just love learning. I've an engineer's brain so taking tricks apart and putting them together again my way... well it's just a fantastic journey."

- Jody Grieg, Magician, as quoted in the Edinburgh Evening News

I don’t know Mr. Grieg and I’ve only met Lawrence Hass once, but I suspect they would get along swimmingly.

Lawrence Hass is a philosophy professor, and so like one of his heroes, Eugene Burger, he raises a lot of questions about the performance of magic. He does his best to answer those questions that are important to him, but reminds us in TRANSFORMATIONS that ultimately we must find the questions that are important to us. He’s also a big fan of “vision-questing” which involves periods of solitude where one sort-of daydreams about performing a particular effect or show. We’ve all done this, but I don’t remember a magic author admitting he does it often. It’s refreshing. Usually we’re told that daydreaming is the stuff of amateurs and that one must work hard at practical things to make any progress. Mr. Hass recognizes that this vision-quest is an important part of the process as well.

In seven essays, Hass richly addresses topics such as naturalness, originality, technique, and art. These essays are important because Hass has crafted them with the same thoughtfulness he’s crafted his magic. My favorite was the last essay, “The Delirium of Magic” which deals with the conflicts that most of us have experienced many times. The conflict of walking up to a group of strangers and lifting them out of themselves into a moment of astonishment when
they’ve had to deal with normal life all day; kids, laundry, work, etc. It’s a quite a challenge. There’s also the conflict within, of the performer listening to the voices telling him what he does isn’t important and that’s it’s childish. Hass is able to strip away all that and remind us why we do what we do. It’s quite wonderful.

Along the way, Hass sprinkles in eleven performance pieces (he doesn’t like the term tricks) and most of them are really good. My favorite would be Hass’ script for John Bannon’s “Play it Straight Triumph.” It’s simple and the words have been stripped down to just the essentials without losing any power. However, I too have conflicts with magic,and one of them is whether one should perform a lot with playing cards or use them at all! I believe that ten of the eleven pieces in the book involve playing cards. Mr. Hass has made a decision to use a lot of cards in his work before real people and that’s his choice. It may not be yours. But the presentations he offers work for him and reading his scripts, I think, can be very helpful, whether you use them or not.

In all, I’m very impressed with this work, which has all of this packed into about 180 pages!. It’s properly researched and credited, it’s thoughtful, it’s inspiring, it’s smart and it offers many card effects that are worth your attention. Hass shows us how he has taken the inner workings of effects by others and transformed them into something that is uniquely his. He understands that’s the real secret to transforming your audience as well.

Hass is also aware he stands on the shoulders of giants and he mentions them often. In particular, Eugene Burger, Max Maven, Bob Neale, Tommy Wonder and Juan Tamariz are mentioned many, many times. You get the sense that Hass is constantly reading and re-reading classic works and finding new insights. I think the reader will want to read and re-read TRANSFORMATIONS for years to come.

Available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic dealer

Product info for Transformations (Creating Magic Out Of Tricks)

Author: Larry Hass
Average Rating:  (2)
Retail Price: $40.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

In Transformations: Creating Magic Out of Tricks, Lawrence Hass uncovers some of the higher secrets for creating strong, entertaining performances of magic.

Drawing on over fifteen years of experience as a performer and as an award-winning teacher of college courses on magic performance, Dr. Hass shows that being an excellent magician does not reside in knowing lots of "tricks," but rather in the thoughtful application of psychological and theatrical principles that transform our best tricks into experiences of magic.

As world-famous magician Eugene Burger has said: "This is a wonderful book written by a very talented performer. It is full of secrets. . .that will make you a better, more engaging magician."

Pages 185 - Hard Bound

Along with seven clear, engaging essays on magic performance and eleven fully-realized performance pieces from Larry's repertoire, Transformations also includes a previously unpublished routine by Eugene Burger and forewords by Jeff McBride and Marc DeSouza.

"This is a wonderful book written by a very talented performer and master teacher. It is full of secrets: great tricks and thoughtful scripts, and also the subtle strategies of presentation and psychology that will make you a better, more engaging magician. Prepare yourself: you and your magic are likely to be transformed." - Eugene Burger

"In the following pages, not only will you gain a deeper insight into the history and mystery of Larry's search for magic, you will also learn secrets for transforming your own performances." - Jeff McBride

"Dr. Hass has a revolutionary approach to performing, teaching, and learning magic. He focuses. . .on making magic meaningful. . . . I have seen him perform many of these routines for several different audiences. They never fail to elicit a tremendous response." - Marc DeSouza


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