Magic And Showmanship – A Handbook For Conjurers (Henning Nelms)


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Many books deal with the devices used by conjurers but few concern themselves with the showmanship on which the real art of conjuring depends.

In this book Henning Nelms whose many lectures before conjuring societies and articles in conjuring magazines have made him a recognized authority, analyzes every phase of conjuring: sleights, devices, misdirection, patter and the effective use of assistants are examined in detail. Treatment of misdirection is especially noteworthy.

Like theatrical presentations, conjuring is an art of illusion. A magician skilled in the craft is able to convince an audience that he or she can read minds, communicate with the spirit world, make objects appear or disappear, and perform other acts of seemingly genuine magic. Without having mastered the art of presentation or “showmanship,” however, even the most competent sleight-of-hand artist can fall short in performance. With this in mind, noted authority Henning Nelms goes beyond the basics to show how techniques developed for the stage by playwrights, directors, and actors can heighten the dramatic effect of a magician’s performance.

In this instructive book, Helms analyzes every phase of conjuring- from sleights, devices, and illusions to misdirection, controlling the audience’s attention, incorporating “patter,” and the effective use of assistants. Of particular interest is a chapter on body language, posture, positioning and movement. Also included are some 60 original routines-from simple card tricks to such major illusions as having the performer suddenly appear at stage center.

Indispensable as an instruction manual for novices, this how-to guide-enhanced with nearly 200 of the author’s illustrations will also serve as a lasting source of advice and inspiration for veteran conjurers.

Unabridged (2000) republication of the work published by Dover Publications, New York, 1969.

Soft cover Dover publication; 322 pages with numerous illustrations.