Performance Ready | Developing Your Script

Connection and Rapport

This Blog Post is long overdue.

Developing a script is not easy.

It is a miracle any of us arrive at what could be considered a creative presentation for routines when you consider we were not trained in the craft of script writing.

Script Writing is a Craft.

Consider for a moment how much we have to learn:

  • Reading the routines from Books
  • Deciding this is a routine worthy of our time.
  • Mastering difficult sleight of hand.
  • Testing our routines with very basic descriptive Patter.

Creating Patter for my routines was tough at the very beginning – I just didn’t know what to say beyond the classic phrase “pick-a-card-any-card”.

That phrase is the beginning of our script writing training.

My friend Mark Morris asked me to share my thoughts on this topic. I must be honest and say my thoughts about scripting has taken me forever to cultivate and I am still working on this.

What I can share with you all with some semblance of knowledge and experience are some guidelines to get you all started.

Ok, here we go:

Start off by creating a big note book just to write down ideas.


You don’t keep a journal?

Stop that nonsense and go purchase a Moleskin.

Keeping a journal is a gymnasium for your mind and imagination.

Are you kidding me?

   Classic Plots and Premise

This image is the inspiration behind some of my favourite routines and plots.

This is the foundation for all of my presentations.

So, get started, please.

Next, cultivate an interest in something other than card magic.

I love Photography, Traveling, Walking, Observing, Films, Hitchcock, Spielberg,  James Bond, Batman, Star Wars, Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer 24, I am learning more about History particularly The Second World War and…LEGO.

I am student of Landmark Education, Personal Development, Dale Carnagie, Anthony Robbins and Napoleon Hill.

Many of these subjects have played a big part in my script writing.

Oh Yes…

Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of this book.


This book is THE PLAY BOOK on how screen writers craft their Oscar winning projects.

I purchased this book because I was inspired by the fact that Darwin Ortiz thought so highly of it.

If you think the presentations for my routines are any good, its only because I spend more time now on script and premise than I do learning routines – I have enough routines to last the rest of my life.

My performances now are all about bonding and connecting with my audience. (more…)

Performance Ready | Audience Reaction

In a previous post I asked “why do we do this”.

This has been on my mind a lot.

A recent performance I gave during my one man show provided all the answers I needed.

Sit back and enjoy this video, we have a lot to discuss in this blog post.

This post and performance is dedicated to my dear friend Jason Ladanye.

He is the best card man I have seen in the last 15 years.

While my opinion is subjective, my evaluation of Jason and his creative out put is based on spending time with him, enjoying his thought process, his technical ability, watching him perform to lay people and plus the fact I like him as a person.

Card Magic by Jason

I mention Jason in the context of this blog post because the routine in this video is his glorious creation.

It is called Lucky Charms.

Now, back to the point of this post – audience reaction.

This is the reason why we perform magic.


There was a time when we all once gasped in total astonishment.

I can remember vividly when Alan Alan stunned me with his Rising Card.

I sat next to Slydini in awe.

I was completely blown away by Tommy Wonder, Albert Goshman, Fred  Kaps, Harry Lorayne, Cy Endfield. And I am talking blown away by the feeling of magic.

It was uncanny, for a brief moment, I felt magic was real.

This video performance reminded me why I do magic.

It is my duty to give my audience the absolute best experience of magic I am capable of. 

Anything less and I consider myself a failure.

In watching this video, it reminded me of the responsibility I have and the privilege of being a magician.

To give this gift away is a wonderful thing.

I must be honest and say when I was younger my ego was in overdrive – my performance was all about “ME”.

Now, it’s about creating a synergistic partnership with my audience.

I see my audience as my collaborators in my show.

Together, WE create the experience and atmosphere of magic.

It is imperative that we have at our disposal the strongest material possible.

We must also present our magic with a stylish, authentic and dignified presentation.

If you are serious about presenting strong magic then study the classic books, watch my DVDs, study the work of Darwin Ortiz and Jason Ladanye.

Jason’s new book is called GAME CHANGER.

Gamer Changer

Click on the image above or here to order your copy

Think about your magic for a moment, ask yourself honestly if your magic produces astonishment for your audience?

Now astonishment is not the same as amusement or curiosity, no, it is that child like state of wonder, enchantment and the feeling that comes with it is magical.

Astonishment is our natural state.  

Our job as magicians is to open that door within our audience.

We are the key that unlocks that feeling and set it it free.

Our audience will thank us in the only way they feel compelled to – a standing ovation.

Thank you for reading.


Performance Ready | Audience Testing

The Changeling – Metamorphosis

With the arrival of my new DVD with Alakazam Magic, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about my Synergistic approach to Card Magic and Audience Testing.

I have a fairly comprehensive library, old books mostly. Some of the newer books are simply great, some of them even stunning.

Books like Lessons in Card Mastery by Darwin Ortiz and Game Changer by Jason Ladanye. These two books have really pushed this subject forward.

I also have books in my library which I feel haven’t.

I have delayed the publication of my book simply because my material has not pushed the subject forward.

I like to think my performances have contributed a lot this subject.

When I watch videos of myself, in most cases, I feel happy because my execution was good, my presentations are now more an authentic expression of me, my vision and life.

My creative ability, what little I have is more in line with a simple thought;

What can I do with this effect?

What can I communicate with this routine.

What will the audience learn about me after this performance?

I must thank my friend Chris Wood for that last question – it is a question I had not considered or even framed in this way. I was thinking more in terms of why should they care.

Over dinner last night, Chris dropped that question on me and it landed powerfully. Full credit to him because I said to him there is a blog post right there with full credit.

My creative expression comes alive when I feel and make powerful connections with magical principles.

My new DVD is an exploration into this thought process.

Many of the routines on my DVD grew out of these questions – one routine in particular is The Lie Detector.

In case you forgot it, here is the video again to enjoy.

This routine is a synergic combination of ideas from Paul Cummings, Mike Obrien, Larry Jennings, Alex Elmsley along with a devious moment from myself. This routine is a hard core FOOLER. It has caught many magicians off guard.

This is an example of how I create and design my magic. I look for gaps in the handling that can be made stronger. I look for a presentational hook to make them care or at the very least spark interest.

The next important thing is test drive my ideas. I am learning to trust my ideas a lot more now.

I had the crazy idea of combining two wonderful techniques together to create a truly stunning effect. The routine is called The Changeling – this never fails to generate a gorgeous response.

Here is a performance.

The lighting in this video is dam aweful – I apologies for this.

This video features The Changeling along with a routine from my first Alakazam DVD The Pathway to Excellence Volume 1.

As you can see, I have combined both routines together to create a monster showpiece item. This synergistic combination is beautiful and a tribute to  Robert Houdin Metamorphosis.

My routine features modern sleight of hand techniques along with a strong presentation hook. The routine is a big hit in my stand up show.

Test driving routines is big part of being performance ready – this can take serval months before I feel this level of certainty.

Trusting myself, my technique and delivery is a constant work in progress.

This is a requirement for all of us.

My new DVD also features a stunning routine called Pasteboard Larceny MKII – The original appeared on my Penguin Lecture.

This revision is how I now present the routine. It combines ideas of SteveForte, Jason England and Darwin Ortiz into a stunning demonstration of Gambling and Card Control.

I do not consider myself a gambling expert. My audience will think so after watching this routine. The strength of this in the combination of ideas and how they have been routines together.


My new DVD is ready for order and immediate shipment.

Cost is £24.99

Order will be handled directly through Pay Pal.

Click on The Magic Button to place your order:

Postage & Packaging

Performance Ready | Classic Plots

As part of preparing for a successful performance, choosing the right material is very important.

Take a look at this drawing.

             Classic Plots and Premise

I was going through my note book and saw this entry from a few years back.

I got present to something.

My material hasn’t changed much.

I am still presenting the same routines as I did from eight years ago.

What I find interesting is the variations on these basic plots.

Lets break it down:


Matching The Cards 


Card to Impossible Location

The Four Ace Assembly

Do As I Do

Multiple Location 

Any Card At Any Number 

Skill Demonstrations

Psychic Demonstrations and Mind Reading 

That’s it, my entire repertoire of Card Magic.

Now, what keeps it all interesting are the variations and different handlings I have for different performing situations.

           Victory Loves Preparation

So, my question to you all is, where are you getting your inspiration from?

What books are you reading and studying?

Guess what?

Your will not find your personal repertoire from You Tube or the latest download.

It will be found in the old books.

There are more secrets in the old books than you will ever find on You Tube.

A few years ago, I gave a talk on my favourite books, I am sharing this video here in the hope it inspires you.

This is a short blog post and yet, I feel it contains a few hidden secrets.

You don’t need much to win the crowd

I hope you have managed to read between the lines.

Thanks for reading


Performance Ready | Listen to your Audience

This post was inspired by my Rope Routine.

You read that right – My Rope Routine.

Your performance is for your audience.

While this Website and Blogs Post are dedicated to sleight of hand card magic, occasionally, I feel inspired to write about something not related to cards.

My Rope Routine is at the other end of the magical spectrum for me and yet, what it has taught me has improved my performance of card magic considerably.

This took me by surprise because I never once considered myself a rope magician.

I am passionate about playing cards, not ropes. I learnt a few simple rope tricks as a boy, many of these effects now feature in my professional routine.

This all came about after reading Strong Magic – yes, that book again.

It all began here

This led me to think deeply about magic, puzzles and the experience of astonishment.

In fact, I was so deeply inspired, it forced me to confront the experience my audience is left with after my show.

Purpose, Passion & Power – Image Copyright to John Costello Photography. All Rights Reserved 2018

I created a routine which comprehensively attacks my audiences point of view about reality.

What happens in my Rope Routine has to be seen, words will not do a description justice.

I have presented this routine many times over the last ten years and it has anchored me and my magic into a very powerful context.

By listening to my audience throughout this routine, they have expressed to me precisely why it is so strong and magical.

Listening to our audience is a critical element to becoming a strong performer.

What is the point in doing a routine that our audience do not respond powerfully too?

There is no point wasting time on a routine that doesn’t work.

If a routine fails to produce the appropriate levels of astonishment, I do not add it to my working repertoire.

An Impossible Illusion – Image Copyright to John Costello Photography. All Rights Reserved 2018

I work very hard on my routines; I listen to my audience more. I trust my audience, I know they will not lie to me.

If a routine fails, it’s my responsibility to fix it, guided by my inner muse, the feedback from my audience and trusting my instincts about what works for my style.

It was tough taking my ego out of the equation.

Certain routines which I thought were great lacked my authentic voice.

This is the point;


The more we honour our natural voice, the more we will know what works.

Consider this final point.

Our audience has an intuitive radar for what looks right and sounds right the moment we start. Anything that doesn’t sound right, look right or feel right will generate a response that will teach us something, if we learn to listen to our audience.

Trust your feelings and instincts the next time you perform, listen to the quality of the reaction and response.

Finaly, actively listen to everything that happens. My style of delivery is very conversational. I actively encourage this level of relationship with my audience.

I ask questions – sometimes, my questions are quite confrontational and provocative. I love this and I feel secure in myself to manage what comes. This I have no control over, just like in any day to day conversation, I roll with the rhythm and force of life.

In the end, by listening actively, I will learn something from my audience and they in turn will learn something about me.

A performance of magic has to the potential to be a very sophisticated experience and dare I say deeply moving. I personally believe it’s our duty to strive for this level of experience.

By listening to my audience, they have inspired me to construct a very intelligent and sophisticated presentation, full of conversation, stories and plain old sharing.

I personally believe it’s our duty to strive for this level of experience.

If you are reading this, you have a huge advantage over me, I am deaf.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment.


Laughter & Astonishment – Image Copyright to John Costello Photography. All Rights Reserved 2018