My Homework for The Retreat

By Joshua Jay - Wednesday, May 22, 2019

In just a few days, I'll be leaving for Costa Rica, where we will host the first-ever magic retreat. I'm THRILLED to be seeing 30 of our Vanishing Inc community members there for what we hope is an unforgettable blast of a weekend. Dani DaOrtiz, Paul Vigil, Rune Klan, Ben Earl, and more will be presenting, and we have an equally star-studded cast of guests. One of the ways The Retreat differs from other magic conventions is the interactive element. And that starts before everyone arrives, in the form of a homework assignment.

This is what every guest is asked to do:

Homework: Please do one or both of the following:

  1. Bring a work-in-progress effect, ready to perform. We have designated, informal one-on-one time for you to share a new trick or idea with our headliners, and get feedback on a move or presentation or concept. This is your chance to perform it for our experts, or in some cases the whole group.

  2. Bring a goal. This is something you'll read aloud, so we can all work together throughout the Retreat Weekend to help you meet it. It could be, "I want to learn a new opener" or "My goal is to come away with three new pieces I can perform" or "I need a presentation for this trick I'm doing" or, simply, "I'm here to make some new friends in magic."

I did the homework, too, and I wanted to share what I'll be sharing with the group in a few days.

The work-in-progress I'm bringing is a coin effect I hope to put in my show, Six Impossible Things, this coming October. There's a close-up segment near the end of the show that I often swap in various effects. I'm enamored with Mike Pisciotta's coin routine, which takes many of the best moments from various "Coins Across" phases, and mashes them together. My intention is to give this effect an ending that fits into my show, and smooth out the rough sections with some help from our guests and speakers.

My goal is to sit down with a few of the experienced parlor magicians and brainstorm a new segment for my stage show. I know what I want to achieve, but I don't have a method I'm happy with, and I have a feeling the hive-mind can help.

I realize most of you reading this will not be going to The Retreat, but we've done this for an important reason worth sharing. I attend a lot of conventions, and it's easy to fall into the trap of treating magic conventions as social events. We get to see old friends, stroll through the dealers' room, and watch shows. All of these things are, for the most part, passive experiences. We don't expend much effort; these things happen automatically. But to attend a convention with intention, to use the homeopathic parlance, is useful.

When I was working on my show, I found the conventions I attended to be extremely helpful. But I was watching everything through the lens of my show. It made a huge difference. I wasn't aimlessly wandering the dealer's room in search of something cool. I was looking things that might help with the gaps I had come to fill. I wasn't watching lectures trying to expand my toolbox. I was looking for solutions to show problems. I was analyzing openers, closers, and transitions. And it was all helpful.

We want to make sure people come to the workshop with their own "lens" to see things through. You might consider this homework the next time you're at a convention, too.

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