Posted by: Melany | September 8, 2009

Proposing My Idea

Here is my proposal for my literary journalism feature. This is followed by a sample piece of my article.

Story Proposal – The Wonder of Magic

The focus of this literary journalism piece is the art of magic. I will endeavour to explore a number of different areas. Firstly, why the popularity of magic has continued to grow in the twenty-first century. Secondly, how magic connects to psychological principles such as memory, perception and deception. I will also explore what attracts people to pursue magic as a career and what can create a lifetime fascination with magic and illusions. Finally, I will explore whether the popularity of magic runs parallel with social phenomena such as the Harry Potter series, movies about magic or news stories about daring magical stunts.

I believe that this concept has broad appeal as most people in Australia have had some experience with magic and it is often discussed among friendship circles. It is not news, as such, making it ideal for the style of literary journalism. Magic often incites many memories and is very visual, lending to the need of descriptive language that literary journalism allows.

The first stage of the research process will involve reading articles about magic and exploring the connections with psychological principles. I will contact Australian psychologists who are interested in links with magic and organise to speak with them about their views on this link.

I will visit magic shops in the Illawarra and Sydney regions to find potential talent. It will be interesting to talk to the owner of a magic shop and find out why they opened a magic shop as well as who their regular clientele would be. This will be undertaken in the early stages of the research process as I imagine an owner of a magic store would have connections with other people involved in the industry and may be able to pass on other potential sources. Although the planning process of the article is structured, I believe that some interesting insights will come from immersing myself in the culture and discussing the views of those involved. This includes people who may not appear to be a usable source at first.

In my research I have found that there are lessons that can be taken by people hoping to become magicians. I endeavour to contact the people who run these courses and find out why they run the courses, if there are certain personality traits that their students often possess and where their graduates often end up after completing the course. In addition to this, I will talk with some of the students to find out why they are training to become a magician and what they intend on doing after graduating.

Furthermore, there is an International Brotherhood of Magicians which link professional and amateur magicians. There is a branch of this organisation in Sydney known as Ring 102 which meets monthly, I will attempt to organise to attend a meeting of this organisation. I am interested to find out why it is the ‘Brotherhood’ of magicians. This seems to alienate female magicians, making magic very much a boy’s club.

I have attended a magic show by ‘unusualist’ Raymond Crowe and will describe the atmosphere of a magic show, the variety of people in attendance and the responses from the audience. Fortunately, I was able to interview Raymond Crowe before the performance. I will include what I have learnt from this interview and the insights that he has provided into the role of a magician. I also interviewed his apprentice magician, Jamie Ramzan and I will include his perspective as the opinions of an up and coming magician, a young male who strives to pursue magic as a career.

Stylistically, as there are various areas to explore in this literary piece, I will divide it into smaller sections. To do this, I will select appropriate quotes that relate to the content in the following section. This will enable me to alter the focus and continue my ‘meditative’ reflection on the topic without altering the rhythm of the story too much.

Literary articles differ in the use of the presence of the writer. For this piece, I think including my own observations and reflections during the investigation piece will add to the overall literary effect of the article. I do not want to make the article self-indulgent, rather occasionally including my own personal voice.

I will utilise the characteristic of literary journalism to subtly alter the voice and tone of different sections. At this stage, I am deciding which voices will become prominent in the article, however potential voices include: the professional magician speaking of what he has experienced, the amateur magician discussing why he wants to enter that world, the analytical voice discussing the natural reaction to deception and perception and the voice of wonder of an audience discovering the magical world of magic.

. . .

Sample Section

If we know that ‘magic’ is nothing more than well-crafted illusions, why do magic shows still fill every seat of an auditorium? Do we like being tricked? Is it the challenge of trying to decipher the steps of the tricks that astound us? Or is it the fact that you can take your son, your grandmother and your neighbour’s nephew along with you?

The art of magic is universal. It appeals to every generation and every race. Magic captures your attention; it makes you smile and makes you think. It has the power to amaze and to make the impossible seem possible.

Internationally-renowned performer and Australia’s only ‘unusualist’, Raymond Crowe, has made a living out of this very notion. He believes that what draws audiences to magic is the sense of wonder that it brings. To provoke wonder in the hearts and minds of all is what makes magic a timeless delight.

Crowe’s most famous ‘trick’ does not include the usual favourite of smoke, mirrors and shackles. Instead, he uses the simplest of tools: his hands.

Most of us have experimented with shadow puppets at some stage. I remember sitting in front of a lamp, trying to make my hands look like a butterfly. The result looked more like a bug splattered across a windscreen, but that wasn’t the point. It was fun and innocent.

Crowe’s shadow puppets, however, have made him one of Youtube’s biggest hits. A video of his shadow puppet routine, “Amazing Hand Shadow Show” has had over 1.5 million views. Within weeks of it being uploaded, the video had spread all over the world. This two minute and twenty second clip catapulted Crowe into a level of fame, unknown by most magicians.

This routine, set to the tune of Louis Armstrong’s iconic classic, What a Wonderful World, follows the journey of the song. His hands contort into unbelievable shapes, folding and unfolding in front of the light. The famous face of Armstrong is shown in profile, his mouth expertly opening and closing to match with the lyrics. As the clip progresses, so does the exhibition of Crowe’s talent. His hands mould to present a rabbit running up a hill, an elegant swan grooming itself and a child’s hand reaching for the hand of an adult. Crowe later revealed to me that this is among his most treasured sequences it is his son’s hand reaching his own.

This simple clip, which took years to perfect has sent Crowe around the world. He performed on The Late Show with David Letterman; he performed to 20 million people across the world on the NBC TV Special – World’s Greatest Magic and he performed in front of the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance in London.

Back at home in Australia, Crowe is on the road with his son, Eugene, by his side along with his crew of dedicated showmen. Crowe has been looking forward to the thrill of performing in front of an audience, with the anticipation brewing with his every move.

The audience is seated, the lights are dim. Families and friends talk excitedly, waiting for the voice-of-God to announce the moment the show will start. “Ladies and gentleman, start your applause for Australia’s only unusualist, Raymond Crowe.”

As Crowe steps out, the audience makes a hurried hush; he has the impact of the eccentric Willy Wonka. The tail of his coat forks and his top hat sits slightly askew atop his curly, almost comical hair. He welcomes the audience into a world where nothing is real, yet you wish it was.


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