One of the modern magic pioneers, Robert Houdin, wrote in his book, Secrets of Conjuring and Magic, “a magician is an actor playing the part of a magician.” Houdin’s book was written and published in the eighteenth century. There is some contention today about the meaning of that quote.
Some contend that this quote has been taken out of context. That if you read the paragraphs before and after, in the original text, the meaning is more about the difference between a juggler and a magician. I’ve read them.
I believe the quote means just what it says. A magician is first an actor. And yes, a magician is a different artist than a juggler. A magician must move with deftness. (That’s a word Houdin uses to separate Magicians from Jugglers.) A Juggler flaunts his skill; the smart magician hides it.
Sanford Meisner, acting guru from the last century said, that, “an actor lives truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” If both quotes above are valid, then the following is an apt definition: a magician lives truthfully under imaginary circumstances.
Meisner was also fond of asking his students this question: “Are you really doing what you say you’re doing?” I love that line. In fact, I think it’s a way for us to stay on target when faced with living our hectic, gigaminute lives. Are we really doing what we say we’re doing?