Making a Connection

My friend Scott Wells conducted this delightful interview which … really got to the heart of the matter.
Have a listen.

https://www.themagicwordpodcast.com/scottwellsmagic/547-hannibal 

If you would like to become a patron and help support this ongoing art experiment/ quest, please visit my Patreon page.

 

h

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Props

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget  what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

In a recent “Ask Hannibal Anything” on Facebook, I was asked: “what is the single greatest idea/movement/invention/concept/development in the history of magic as a performance art?”

I thought through the books, sleights, apparatus, trends, and concepts I have studied and immersed myself in. A world of wonderful creativity based on keeping it all secret. I processed through a lot of things, and finally came to the quiet conclusion.

The realization that the props, secrets, and moves are not the magic. The magic is the performer, the artist. The concept that Art is the act of taking your heart and shining lights on it.

The hands, heart, and soul are what create the magic moment. When I say ‘hands’ here, I’m talking about the physical, of course, but also the conceptual. My hands are not just the miraculous machines at the end of my arms. My hands are the dance that happens in connection with my audience. I reach out with my spirit, inviting them out into my world, and I carefully lead them through the wonders … we hold hands. We connect. It’s my way of expressing love to them.

Them … the attendees, the audience. The ones seeking perhaps merely distraction. I feed them, and hope my offering is accepted.

I put forth the poetry of my soul. I can do this with comedy, drama, rage … or anything. Magic is the vehicle for my art.

Magic is not the props. No matter how clever or pretty the apparatus is, the magic does not happen unless the performer believes it. What’s that? Believe in magic? Aren’t we just scoundrels and tricksters, fooling people and amazing them with our prowess and skill?

Perhaps … but I honestly believe in my magic, and I want to give them something deeper than mere tricks.

 

h

 

*If you would like to become a patron and help support this ongoing art experiment/ quest, please visit my Patreon page.

 

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Filed under Musings, Public Diary

Circles

Around ten years ago my daughter sat on Christmas morning, turning her wrapped presents over in her hands. Her siblings had already unwrapped, opened and examined theirs . I aasked he why she hadn’t yet opened hers, and she looked at me with shining, glimmering eyes and said:
“Daddy, right now this could be anything. I know I’ll love what’s inside but right now I just want to imagine.”

Shortly after this, someone sent me a link to a video. It was the director of Lost, talking about a Mystery Box. The untold parts of stories that are equally worthwhile. Here’s a link: https://www.ted.com/talks/j_j_abrams_mystery_box?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

These two events led directly to my creation called “Bookends”. You know .. the elf boot thing.
This year i I met that man at my own show. I presented “Bookends” while he was in the audience. He took the time to come and compliment me on my act.

A few nights ago he came to another show of mine. He sought me out and brought his father for his 80th birthday.  After the show, we spoke for a while and i told him how his speech influenced my work. He was stunned and grateful. “Next level” he said. We exchanged a few ideas and … he wants to come see the show again.

You know that feeling when an artist who has inspired you is in turn inspired by your work? Yeah, I hadn’t either. I feel it now, though …
JJ Abrams is the person i’m talking about. My art leads me to some amazing places. And people.

jj

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Hat

Years ago:
I had a hat and a waistcoat.
I put them on, picked up my instrument, and went to work.

It was raw craft, at first. I had a little skill with words and so I used them to hide the flubs.
Raw craft … and then

I missed my mother. I was unhappy that she never saw me perform one effect, never saw what my hands were destined to do. I said so while shuffling cards. I made up a trick that i thought would make her laugh, could she but see.

… and they laughed. And they gasped. And they wriggled a bit in delight.
The laugh exploded and crystallized into art. Laughter through tears.

A marine. (hard and sober)
A goth chick.
A rabbi.
A homeless man.
A homeless woman.
A college student.
A lawyer.
A superstar athlete.
And several anonymous souls
… have told me that I saved their lives with my words and my art.

Tonight I made a woman weep with my stories.
I reminded her of her son
Who died …
Laughter through tears.
“He would have loved this … thank you for being who you are.”

tonight I drove home.
And I put my instrument down (for now, not for keeps)
I took off my hat and i hung up my waistcoat
and I wrote this to you.

This … is who I am.

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crazy?

“We are embedded in a biological world and related to the organisms around us” ~ Walter Gilbert

“I am just a dreamer, and you are just a dream” ~ Neil Young

“I was always ashamed to take, so I gave. It was not a virtue. It was a disguise.” ~ Anais Nin

They said I was crazy

for throwing away a certain future

in order to chase a silly dream

But, said I

I would rather have a wallet stuffed

with post-notes of scribbled poetry

to place into the palms of strangers

Than stacks of stiff bills

staring up at me (old, dead, white men)

As I die a fresh death every morning

sinking deeper into the center of my cubicle

They still call me crazy

I’m still more successful than I ever imagined i could be

I still scribble poetry

I don’t even own a wallet

and i breathe in new life when I wake up … whenever I want.

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Quest

Like .. a never-ending one.
Way back, pre-magic days. I was working my last job, at Heritage resort. I was asked to accompany my boss on a walk through the property. We chatted and walked, then sat beside a lake in a really green place. We were building a lighthouse stage there …
He complimented me on the work I was doing (writing scripts and executing them via live acting and puppets) and praised my efforts as an employee, husband, father, and human. You know that meme where it says that giving me compliments is like trying to put a wrinkled dollar into a vending machine? Yeah .. was then, still is true now.
And then he said something that still echoes in my head: “You have a really great way of reaching people, showing them your heart and loving them, that’s a real gift, but I never see you take much joy in yourself. Where is your happiness?”

Later in my story (couple of decades later) in the midst of an argument my wife accused me of being chronically miserable. She told me I could be happy if I could just act like I used to … find the ‘real me’ that I used to be. “You’ll be happy when you decide to be.”
My friend Andrea reminds me that I still create art for others and … it’s amazing and I’m really good at it. I’m dedicated and I care. All of these things are true.
Yet … I sink into a hole when I walk off stage. I give everything I have and I empty myself. I will get very still and quiet. On the best nights, after the best shows, and almost every single time I’m driving home from the Castle, I weep uncontrollably.
I’ve looked, I’ve meditated, I’ve quested for happiness through several therapists. I’m still sitting here with all this weight pressing down on my shoulders and i still have not recognized joy in myself.
Chronically miserable, though you’d not really know it unless I told you. Unless I foolishly laid out all the words about how painful life is. The persistent loneliness and certainty that I am unworthy. Not capable.

There is art to be made and art can be a forge that turns my grief into sunshine for someone else. So I’ll do the shows with all my might, all my heart.

Even when my heart is just a tiny, bitter, green pill.

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weapons

Mother …

Let nothing in my hand be a weapon.

Neither gun, wand, nor pen.

If my fingers should fist, please break them.

Should I be tempted to raise my hands in anger, quickly remind me that you did not give me hands for that purpose.

Violence is not the war i wage.

The  hand … the hand is one of the most incredible instruments in the  universe. Of all the bones in the body, one-fourth are in the hand. The  balletic interplay of sinew and bone that is the human hand cannot be  overstated, though it always seems to be thirsting to make a fist. Our  greatest moment of humanity is when we open (un-fist) our hand to extend  it in love … cradle a glass of wine … cup the chin or cheek of a  loved one.

Even more … let nothing in my mouth be a weapon.

Not teeth, spit, or word.

Let my words be sweet … or savory. Never bitter, for I may have to eat them.

Turn my heart from hatred, and let love be the seeds i sow.

Fear is not the war I wage.

If I am to be known for anything in this world, let it be

“He left love where he went.”

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