Learning from a Legend
Pat Page Workshop
Five of Hearts Magic Studio - May 2003
Reported by Ian Brodie
How would you like to spend a whole day talking, learning and practising magic with one of today's few remaining "living legends"? Sounds good? Well I recently got the chance to do just that by being one of a handful of attendees at a close-up workshop with Pat Page. And the good news is that this was just the first in a series of workshops available on a variety of themes to magicians of all abilities.
It seems to me that there is a whole generation of magicians nowadays who didn't enter "the art" via the traditional method of apprenticeship, hanging around at the magic shop and learning at the foot of a master. A great many of us were introduced to magic through TV and nowadays even the internet. We learnt - and continue to learn - primarily through books, videos and the occasional magic lecture. Indeed there is more magic material available nowadays than ever before - probably more than anyone could ever hope to digest in a lifetime. However, one thing we are missing is the opportunity to learn with and from a real expert. To get feedback on our performance and technique and to learn the subtleties that can only come across via detailed descriptions, discussions and testing out live. Magic workshops - an intense working session where a small number of participants interact with and learn from an expert - offer a way of getting that vital feedback and learning.
My chance to experience this type of learning happened in late May at a pilot workshop run at Colin and Sharron Rose's Magic Studio in Gosberton, Lincs. where a small group of us gathered for a seven hour session with Pat Page.
I must admit that I approached the day a little nervously. I've been doing magic "seriously" for a couple of years now and am capable and confident enough to do the occasional paid event. I knew I'd learn a lot, but the event also included feedback from Pat on our performances. What would a man who has sessioned with the likes of Vernon, Marlo, Goshman and Kaps think of my meagre talents?
Thankfully, my fears were unfounded. The participants ranged in skills and experience from a fairly new and nervous starter through to a guy about to take his Magic Circle "entrance exams" - so I certainly didn't feel out of place. And Pat was fairly gentle with his feedback - he picked up and corrected a number of areas of technique, style and performance - but I certainly didn't feel beaten up in any way.
We covered a wide range of topics ranging from tips on table-hopping technique to the best tricks for relative newcomers to building surprise into your magic to thumb tip subtleties to timing and misdirection and a whole host of other subjects. Pat helped me tighten up my opening effect and we worked on my palming technique. In addition we witnessed some truly beautiful magic, were tipped Pat's close-up table hopping routine, and chuckled at Pat's many, many anecdotes from his life in Magic. One particular learning point really struck me as symbolising the value of these workshop type events. One of the participants asked about the French Drop - a sleight I had long since abandoned, believing it to be an obvious move only for beginners. But Pat showed us how by differently positioning the fingers and by working on timing, we could make the move really deceptive. We sat for 10 minutes going through this until we had all got in right. At times Pat demonstrated, at others he was giving feedback. At other times we were helping each other out. So instead of it being a move in a book or video that we looked at and moved past (or worse still, picked up and did badly) - we all picked up a good solid technique we were able to execute correctly.
I see a real future for this type of workshop. It fits nicely between individual tuition (increasingly rare and difficult to find) and a magic lecture (where you can find out about tricks and hear tips and advice - but not get direct feedback to help improve your own performances). Magic is a performance art - and performers need feedback on their technique and performance to improve. It's admittedly not cheap - I paid £100 for the workshop - but how much does £100 buy you nowadays? A few Magic DVDs? A decent meal out for the family? Or 10 minutes in the dealers hall at Blackpool?!? For me it's been one of my best value-for-money buys for a long time. I would advise anyone who is serious about trying to improve their magic to try out one of these workshops. I think you'll find it an excellent investment.
Pat Page will be doing further workshops at Colin and Sharron Rose's Magic Studio. Also lined up for workshops is John Derris on "Marketing your Magic" with other tutors in the pipeline. Contact them on 01775 840103 or email ColinRoseMIMC@Aol.com Website: www.colinrosemimc.co.uk
© Ian Brodie, June 2003