Coins Across In The Seance Room
By Luke Jermay - Friday, July 24, 2020
I have never actually performed a seance. Something just doesn’t sit right for me in that space. It's not a matter of ethics or performance morals; it just doesn’t suit me. With that said, I have read and enjoyed material that has been shared from that performance context for many years. One of the things that has always connected with me about this style of performance is the wonderfully theatrical aspect of sitting in the dark! So much mystery happens in the shadow darkness of our peripheral vision that to have an audience experience something in the dark is a seductive thought.
With that in mind, here is a small idea that I recently rediscovered in a notebook of ideas and routines from my teenage years. It is interesting for me to revisit them now, with some more years behind me. I think this would be a sensational effect to perform in the right context and for the right audience.
The performer begins: “Have you ever placed some item somewhere and then gone to bed only to find when you woke up that its not where you left it? Strange things happen in the dark…”
The performer removes three coins and places them on his outstretched right palm. He asks for one of the group gathered to position themselves at the light switch in the room and then asks for everyone else to turn off all other light sources in the house and to draw the curtains closed. When this is done, he closes both his fists and asks that two people assist him by gripping his hands, covering his own fists and has others hold his wrists and arms. Turning his attention to the person at the light switch he explains: “Each time I say the word ‘now!’ I want you to turn the switch… turning the light off and on… do you understand?” The participant confirms they understand their role in the strange experience.
After a moment, the performer says the word "now" and the lights go out. After about 10 seconds he says the word "now" again and the light it turned back on. Nothing seems to have changed. He is still in exactly the same position, with the other spectators gripping his hands and arms. He has them release their grip and opens his hand. Amazingly one coin has travelled from his right hand into his left. He continues: “Strange things happen in the dark…”
He once again closes his hands, this time with two coins in his right hand and one in his left. He once again has those assisting hold his hands and arms. He then says "now!” and the lights are turned off. After a slightly longer amount of time that before, he repeats the word "now!" and the lights are turned back on. Amazingly again he opens his hands and one coin has travelled from his right hand to his left.
He then places two coins in the closed fist of one of the participants and holds on in his own fist. He moves to the other side of the room so there is great distance between the spectator and himself. He has those who have been assisting grip his hand and also grip the hand of the spectator holding two coins. He comments: “Strange things happen in the dark… now!”
The spectator turns the lights off and then almost instantly he repeats the word "now!” and the spectator turns the lights back on. This time the light was only gone for a matter of a second or two. He opens his hand and his coin is no longer there. He gestures to the assisting spectator who opens their hand to find they now have all three coins. He concludes: “I wonder what strange thing will happen to each you tonight... when you are in the dark...”
This, as with all of these blog entries, is not really about the method. In fact this is simply a handling of David Roth’s brilliantly constructed coins across routine, which can be found in his book Expert Coin Magic published by Richard Kaufman. All I did was remove one of the coins to streamline it a little to better suit the large amount of time consuming presentation in the demonstration.
For me, this theatrical framing of the effect transforms the impact it has on the audience and takes a little bit of the drama and intrigue from the seance room and places it into the hands of an magician without the need to communicate with the spirits. It is not something you will want to perform everywhere or for everyone but for the right audience at the right time, in the right place it could be something they remember for many years to come.
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