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

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