Deconstructing Dynamo – Building a Performance Character

To make it as a magician you need to be seen. Impressing the audience, making them laugh of surprise and stare wide-eyed at your performance is at the core of everything you practice for. In order to make them remember, you will first need to be someone. It is however not necessary to build a brand new persona – you can either sculpt out a new one or form one out of who you are. In this post we will talk about the two different methods of building your character, exemplified with famous British magician Dynamo or Steven Frayne.

  1. Be a potter or a sculptorChicago magician Eugene Burger teaches us that as a magician you will either be a potter or a sculptor. This means that you have to figure out which one works for you; being a potter you simply build your character out of nothing, while a sculptor chips a character out of who he already is. What many people often misunderstand is that also sculptors have a character to play on stage  – themselves. The character Dynamo has been sculpted out of Steven Frayne whose character is down to earth and easy going, while comedy magician Mel Mellers crafted a whole new persona for his performances.
  2. Find yourself to find an audienceThis is the best thing you can do for your career; figure out who you are and what kind of audience you prefer. The magical thing about this business is that you have an audience of all ages, of any gender and at any intellectual level. Everybody likes to be deceived and amused by illusions. Steven Frayne found an audience in the young, urban music culture to which he belonged himself. This is his main target group, and you should start up by finding yours through yourself. Whether you love to entertain in weddings or like to hang out with pierced youngsters; find an audience and the group will expand.
  3. Pick a background colorWhen developing your performance persona, you will soon realise that it is about more than just the voice you use and the words you choose. To remember someone, it helps to have a background painted which gives a feeling of connection. Find a story to give your performance character a bit of debt. Steven Frayne appreciated the need his audience have for background stories. He adds a touch of sentimentality and is instantly more likeable, more understandable and more of a person – which is what other people in general prefer.
  4. Figure your character outYour character does not have to be an act completely. Depending on you being either a potter or a sculptor, you must figure out how much of the character consists of yourself. Steven Frayne crafted his character to be one of the backgrounds. He puts his character out of the spotlight and focuses on the performance, deliberately making this discreetness a part of his persona. Dynamo’s audience is unlikely to appreciate theatrical effects, so he made a likeable character which his young target group can identify with. By making Dynamo discreet and a creature of the shadows, Steven Frayne created his performance character
  5. Develop your performance characterYour character is born and will now grow together with you on stage. He or she will develop together with your talents, your shows and your own skills. Developing your performance character means that you will give it more debt and adjust it according to your audience. Get used to your character, have live interactions through him and keep rehearsing on how to act on stage.

As a magician you are hoping to entertain but it is also necessary to make money. This is a slow process, and a successful gig is often the most important part. Seeing that your audience does not only love the magic you perform but they also like you as a magician, will give both you and your character a boost of confidence for the next gig. Rehearse with your character, connect together and soon you will find that he has taken over the stage for you.


The Gully Gully Man made an appearance on BBC Arabic, leaving everyone speechless with his close-up magic performed live.

An accountant becoming a famous magician, specialised in close-up magic, is of a slightly different background than most entertainers. As a former musician, he always had an interest for the entertainment industry and soon found his talent for performing magic. It might just be this dedication to entertain that makes him so believable to his audience.

He had chosen to perform the classical trick involving three cups and balls. This trick is dating all the way back to ancient Egypt, astonishing audiences for centuries and keeps astonishing today. The history of this trick is important, as the act of involving his Arabic heritage is what makes The Gully Gully Man unique. A magic trick has never fully reached its potential without its background being equally surprising.
Not even a close up view of the cups and balls manages to reveal the illusion. The Gully Gully Man explains as he goes, figuring this performance to be widely known already, but is still able to deceive us. Just when you think you are paying attention, he will lift his hat and reveal a large melon – seemingly from out of nowhere. Also an onion had sneaked in among the oranges popping out of each cup, perhaps a lesson on how easily he is able to distract us.

With quick hands and a natural talent for entertaining as he goes, The Gully Gully Man astonished and amused both hosts of BBC Arabic including its audience.


The times for watching a stage, where some man with a funny moustache is pulling a bunny up from his hat, might be over. Now we are talking about cabaret magicians, psychological magicians and sleight of hand magicians. All though magic has become more modern, some are questioning if the ways of learning today are as good as the old school methods. Regardless of your opinion of old school magicians – here are 5 classical books for every magicians library.

1. Mark Wilson’s Complete Course In Magic
This is a book which is very easy to find, compared to many other books on magic. Printed in 1975 and written by stage-magician Mark Wilson, it offers detailed explanations of various “tricks,” accompanied by line drawings. It provides the reader (or the “student” as Wilson refers to them as) with thorough explanations of each trick, including the skills and techniques required to perform them.

2. The Royal Touch by Cellini
Most of us has heard about the famous street performer Jim Cellini. This book might be slightly more difficult to get a hold of than the one mentioned above, but do buy it if you find it. Though it focuses on street performances, The Royal Touch is packed with stories from performances and tricks which you will usually learn after many years of experience. This book can give you a great advantage,

3. The Magic Book by Harry Lorayne
This book was first printed in 1977 and contains all sorts of tips on impromptu. By reading this book you will no longer find yourself in situations where people ask you to show them some magic, but you have nothing at hand of cards or similar to use. Instead, you will have learned how to use anything your audience might have in their pockets and turn it into an item to use – and to impress with.

4. The Tarbell Course in Magic
To deserve the title of being a classic, it must have passed the test of time. The Tarbell Course in Magic was printed in 1928 and is widely considered to be any magicians bible, this book deserves the title more than any. It is basically like an encyclopedia of magic, which many professional magician’s careers have been based on. It consists of eight volumes and will be perfect for the old school magician who prefers the classics. In these volumes you will bathe in an ocean of magic, more than you will ever be able to get through.

5. Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz
If you are a magician with a strong interest in the psychological aspects of performing magic; this book will keep you busy for hours. It focuses on the art of Close Up magic and attempts to explain why it works and why it has a strong effect. Reading this book will give you a deeper knowledge and understanding of your performances.

While you are active while reading a book, watching a video is more passive work. Since your competition is staring at his YouTube screen, only observing those flashy tricks, why not give yourself an advantage by learning by book? Providing so much more history and variations compared to your modern videos, these 5 books will give you a whole new insight.

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