The Peter Samelson Lecture Review


The Peter Samelson Lecture Review

The theme for Peter Samelson’s lecture was that “Small Changes Make a Big Difference.” Peter illustrated this theme throughout the lecture. He showed video clips of how he made small changes that made a big difference to Movies, Commercials, and Broadway plays for which he was a consultant. He then demonstrated how this theme was central to his wonderful magic that he performed and then taught us.

Although I find it impossible to directly compare our various lecturers with one another, I have no hesitation in declaring this the most organized and executed lecture I have witnessed. Peter scripted his lecture much as one would script a theatrical performance or a high-class magic show. Everything had its place and its reason. Peter performed his role to perfection.

After illustrating his theme with video clips from the movies, stage plays, and other productions to which he contributed, Peter opened with his beautiful one coin routine, Mimetic Slo-Mo Show’N Vanish.  This routine uses just one coin and no gimmicks. Like any good magic effect, it requires practice but the skill level is within the range of the average magician. The result fulfills Peter’s title for this segment, “One Coin as Theater.” This effect alone is, as they say, “worth the price of admission.”

Peter further illustrated his approach by taking the standard Wild Card Trick and ratcheting it up to a masterpiece of theatrical surprises in an effect he called The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

With each effect, Peter not only taught us how to do it, but also the why of doing it. He provided us a recipe for creating magic which consisted of the three questions, Who?, What?, and Why? (Why am I doing this? Why should anyone care? Why should anybody want to watch this? What is this piece about? What should it look like if were “real magic.” Who is your audience? Who are you in this piece [your character]? )

Although thoughtful and artistic performers such as Eugene Burger feature the Gypsy Thread effect, I have never liked it. Nor have I ever imagined that I would ever perform it. Peter’s performance of his version might just change my mind. The effect was uncluttered and just pure magic in his hands.

Peter talked about tools for misdirection in terms of three types of justification for doing something in a routine: logical, physical, and emotional. He then distributed a napkin to each of us. He demonstrated his New Life from the Ashes. Within the context of his presentation (based on the Phoenix legend), he apparently burned a whole in the center of a paper napkin and ended up restoring the napkin to its original state. He next coached each of us through the routine with the napkins in our hands.

My review just covers the first half of Peter’s lecture. After the break, he continued with even more great insights and magic. These included a card effect, a ring and shoelace routine, and his remarkable and theatrical borrowed ring in box routine, Ring and Rose.

The only negative thing about Peter’s lecture is that more of you did not attend and enjoy this wonderfully enriching experience. Because the lecture took place in an Art Gallery, a few of the artists and gallery people attended the lecture and enjoyed it immensely.


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