Review: The 33 Laws of Stagecraft by Sasha Crespi

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Reviewer: Maarten Bosmans”][vc_column_text]This is a new book out by Sasha Crespi. Sasha is a European magician/mentalist who has lived in Italy, France, Wales and England and is currently studying in the U.S. (New York). He is a young vibrant person who’s currently following an acting course at the Actor’s Studio and a cognitive/social psychology degree in New York. Sasha is also the owner of Entertainment Mastery, a very interesting weekly email based blog about how to practically include techniques from the aforementioned fields in your approach to magic. Each week, the newsletter gives actionable advice on different topics like (but not limited to) stage-fright, scripting, storytelling, spectator dynamics and more. Thee 33 Laws of Stagecraft is his newest release.

This book reads really quick and is essentially a book filled with tips for making your performance in magic greater. Although it can be read in half an hour, this is not the way it should be digested. Each of the 33 Laws is exactly one page long but consists of the pure essence of that part of performing. It is best to first read the book in one sitting and then start to digest and apply one tip each day.

I really loved this book for this reason: it sets you to think and analyze your own performances in new ways. Sasha teaches you methods to make them remember your full name (no business card required), how to quickly put yourself in a top, performance-ready mood in seconds, how to handle hecklers in a fun and ingenious way, amongst many others. If you are interested in a book filled with tricks this is not for you. If you are interested in a book filled in expansive detailed explanations on how to craft a show you will not find it here.

What I believe is that Sasha wants to give you a concise resource to give you the power to become great in your own performance with a number of tips that will allow you to find the weak spots and make strengths out of them.

You will learn a lot from these tips because most of them come from an acting/psychology point of view rather than a magician’s. Sasha is an experienced actor; having performed for the Queen of England, God rest her soul (oohh she is not dead yet).

In conclusion, I believe this is a book you can carry it with you at all times and regularly open it to read one tip you can use the same night into your own performance to enhance it to a higher level.

In the near future Sasha is going to give an in detail explanation/discussion of the 33 Laws with his insights on each tip trough an audio course, I am really looking forward to it. It will be interesting to see if your mind reaches the same conclusion or not.

You can get the book at this site (and automatically be subscribed to the Entertainment Mastery newsletter) here. I give this book a solid 9.5 out of 10 everybody who is interested in performance advice should read this.

BONUS INTERVIEW WITH SASHA CRESPI 

What are the best effects on the market?

I usually look for effects that don’t dictate the reveal, meaning they don’t force you into a specific ending (so I can reveal it as a prediction, in real time, as a coincidence, ..). I’ll answer your questions in 3 different ways.

The effect I couldn’t live without and perform every day is iUnlockYourMind by Myke Phillips, a superb iPhone app that allows you to both perform a truly incredible feat of contemporary mentalism but also collect secret information from your spectators.

The best/highest quality I’ve ever purchased has to be Brian Brushwood’s Book Test. It’s so deviously well made/well thought out and logical that I seldom do a show without it.

My favorite mentalism books are Paramiracles by Ted Lesley and am currently very much enjoying Bairn by Ken Dyne. Lastly, I never leave home without a bent coin in my pocket.

Sasha, can you give our readers one tip from the book?

I’ll do you one better. I’ll give you the whole underlying concept behind the book and what I believe to be the # 1 mistake every magician and mentalist makes:

Stop starting your show with the intention to instantly connect with your audience. The very first thing you should be focusing on is making them care about what they’re about to see, and the best way I’ve found to do that is (initially) to focus on building intrigue/an air of mystery.

The benefits of the are numerous, but the main ones are more interest, better participation, better reactions, more laughter and less heckles.

What are some tips on scripting/acting you can give a magician/mentalist?

Stop being so afraid of expository dialogue (I have here an ordinary deck of cards, I’ll lose the card into the center, …). The purpose of expository dialogue is to create a sense of ease and build comfort in the spectator’s mind (remember, they are temporarily entering a world where the laws of physics/logic don’t apply), so make sure that your first couple of effects are the strongest in expository dialogue and you gradually diminish it’s use a the performance unfolds.

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Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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