The Third Act

In response to Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Fourth Wall

I removed my coat and rolled up my sleeves. A bit unconventional but things had to be done to be competent in the profession I was in. My assistant called for a few volunteers from the audience.

Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course…it probably isn’t.’

I could almost hear John Cutter‘s words in my ear.

In my trick, I was that ordinary something. I invited the volunteers to come and inspect me and my surroundings. After they were satisfied, I stepped inside a bag and ask them to tie it up on the top.

The second act is called “The Turn”The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary…

As the volunteers return to their seat, there is visible movement seen inside the bag. And all at once the bag begins to levitate.

Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know…’

Just as it rises to the highest point it can go and stops rising any more, the movement in bag ceases and it falls flat on the ground. There is visibly nothing inside the bag anymore.

You want to be fooled.

The audience looks around not really comprehending what has happened on stage in front of them. They saw it with their very own eyes. The magician got inside, the bag lifted up and he disappeared but they didn’t want to believe it was all. They were surprised but they needed someone to assure that the surprise was genuine and that was why probably Cutter always went on.

But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back.

The audience knew it too. They were waiting. Waiting for something more. And as they look around, a man who had been sitting in the middle of the audience since the beginning of the show gets up and starts walking to the stage. He is completely covered by a jacket and a scarf. He walks onto the stage and stays there motionless

That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.

All at once, the man shed his jacket and scarf to reveal that it is the magician. The audience erupts into a thunderous applause and I take a bow.

I smiled at them. It was always about the presentation; no matter how simple the trick is. As the curtain falls, I sigh. But this was not enough. People demanded more. They wanted a lot more. In the age when we have magicians like Alfred Borden and Robert Angier to compete with, they always wanted much more than what human capabilities could reach. I just worry it might lead to something disastrous someday.


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