For the first couple MAGIC Lives, all of our talks were held in one large ballroom. Whether it was a full-scale illusion or intricate card sleight, it was discussed from the same stage. We tried to take questions from the audience, but that never quite worked. Then, in 2007, we introduced lunchtime “Breakouts.” These gave attendees the opportunity to meet a particular presenter and ask a specific question or two in a more intimate setting. Turned out, that was a good idea.
Our fourth MAGIC Live was themed the “Class of ’09,” so we took our Breakouts and expanded them into what we called “Electives.” For the first time, registrants could select the subject they would like a full workshop on. And the choices were varied: prop building, comedy writing, theatrical directing, marketing, card magic, scripting, creativity, legalities, grand illusion, a McBride Master Class, and even mini-samplings of three specialty conventions — FFFF, KIDabra, and MINDvention. Of the thirteen choices, guests were able to attend four Electives.
What we learned from this was that giving our guests so many subjects to choose from had a downside. Some people saw it not as having a generous variety to select from, but as missing nine of the thirteen offerings. So, for the next Live, we shifted our thinking and introduced “Focus Sessions.”
The basic idea of a Focus Session is for you to be able to spend more time on a subject that interests you more. To accomplish that, we offer workshops on three varied subjects each day, and you get to select two of those, six over the course of the conventions. In 2011, our subjects were stage, close-up, business, family entertainment, creativity, working restaurants and, from the pages of the magazine, “Loving Mentalism,” “Coffeehouse Conjuring,” and “Directions.” To make sure we had enough room in each workshop, we asked our registrants to make their selections in advance, with each session a ticketed event.
In 2013, we retained the Focus Session format, but dropped the advance ticketing process. Registrants were free to attend any workshop they wished, and could even change their mind at the last minute. The subjects included writing, cards, stage, mentalism, close-up, plus Johnny Thompson tipping his work on doves, Lubor Fiedler demonstrating his creativity, and Yann Frisch and friends presenting new ways of approaching our art.
This past MAGIC Live, in 2015, we covered mentalism, kid shows, business, card tricks, original stage magic; detailed instruction on two classics: Cards to Pocket and Flight of the Paper Balls; and a “Close-Up Clinic” hands-on teaching session in which seven of the top guys in magic helped people improve their technique with cards, coins, cups and balls, and other intimate routines.
This past MAGIC Live, in 2016, we offered hands-on work with invisible loops, innovative ideas in family entertainment, an appointment with the Show Doctor, close-up tips from a dozen experts, an improvisational workshop from The Groundlings, detail work on the art of quick-change, plus a new idea — 18 short presentations by our attendees.
Although we place a heavy emphasis on secrecy at MAGIC Live, the subjects of our Focus Sessions is one area we’re willing to tip ahead of time. So what are the subjects for 2017? Well, we can’t tell you just yet, but we guarantee they’re going to be phenomenal. Please, stay tuned.
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