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Julian Bond’s

“Troupe Vanish”
Effect: A group of seven girls vanish from a platform surrounded by audience members and immediately reappear at the back of the theatre. What the audience sees: A raised platform sits in the center of the stage. On the platform is a thin box frame with a rolled-up curtain. The audience can see underneath, above and all around the platform. Several randomly selected audience members are led up to the stage and form a line behind the platform, acting as witnesses to the illusion from the rear. The girls, one at a time, take their position on the platform. The curtain is lowered. The magician calls to the girls, “Are you ready?” The girls respond with a collective “Yes!” and tap the curtain from the inside. Immediately, the curtain is pulled away – the girls have all vanished. The magician directs the audience attention to the rear of the theatre, where the girls are assembled, ready to accept applause. 1. Effect 1. What the audience sees 2. Notes about the illusion 3. So how does this crazy trick work?!!! 4. Performance venue 5. Platform 6. Frame and curtain 8. Tying up the curtain 8. Other ways to rig a curtain 9. The “secret prop” 10. The routine 12. Anyone have a spare dance troupe? 13. Volunteer assistants 14. The rehearsal 16. Yes folks – the witnesses are truly random! 18. Sightlines 19. Pacing and timing 21. Patter 21. Music 23. Lights and mist 23. An unfriendly stage 24. One other little detail 25. Vanishing seven audience members 27. Impromptu vanish (3 girls) 30. Concluding thoughts


Notes about the illusion I designed this illusion as a finale to a show I performed where I shared the stage with a seven-member dance troupe. I wanted to conclude with an illusion that involved them, and this seemed to be the perfect choice. Through this manuscript I will describe, in detail, every aspect of this illusion: the building, the working, performance notes…and also a number of variations that can be adapted to performing spaces, budget and other factors. The descriptions and methods outlined are based on the way I performed it at the first performance. I have worked on a variety of adaptations since then, and those I will also share as this document progresses. For those of you who have not yet purchased this manuscript and are reading this overview, I understand how frustrating it is to purchase illusion plans with the expectation that you will be performing it at an upcoming show, only to discover when you read through the instructions that you need a hydraulic crane, a $7000 lighting rig and thirty assistants, none of which were mentioned in the pre-purchase description. Well, fear not! This illusion can be assembled for around $70 and operated with as few as three assistants. When I performed this, I had the luxury of five guys to help me plus two female friends who had appeared in other illusions. However – none of them knew the workings of this illusion before the rehearsal and they all learned it from scratch in 20 minutes (and that included the dance troupe, too)! This manuscript will tell you how to teach untrained people to help you run the illusion. There are no mechanical devices involved. You will need to build one “secret prop” which will cost you less than $20. The platform and curtain are replaceable with cheaper alternatives, all of which are described. I am aiming this eBook at both beginners and professionals. It is, first and foremost, an instruction manual for staging and performing a trick. However, I have included many ideas and observations that came to me while I was designing, rehearsing and performing the illusion, from which I hope you can benefit and even build upon. The only requirement is that you are comfortable appearing on stage. This is a very userfriendly illusion, but a very powerful one if performed correctly. You can watch a video of it at I will refer to this clip from time to time. For those of you who have the full manuscript – read on…


So how does this crazy trick work?!!! Okay, well if you are reading this, then you have either purchased the manuscript or I have given you a free copy. Or you stole it, but let’s not go there. Either way, it means that I can now tell you the secret, the method and all the subtleties which go to make this a cool illusion with which to wow your audience. Firstly, let me tell you that the two main selling points of this illusion are… 1. The fact that the platform is surrounded by truly randomly chosen audience members and that all sides are visible at all times. 2. The speed at which the girls disappear and reappear. They are heard calling from the platform and tapping on the curtain right up until the last second. However, those are the two main ingredients of the illusion that are not as they appear. Let me explain… 1. Yes, the audience members are random and they are observing the illusion from behind. However, they leave their seats as innocent volunteers, but by the time they arrive onstage, they are accomplices to the trick, and have been briefed by your assistant as to what they should do. There is a section later on which describes the whole process. The rest of the audience is unaware of this, and assume that these “witnesses” are simply there to guard the rear of the platform against any funny business. 2. Now that we know that the rear of the platform is a perfectly viable escape route, and that our “witnesses” will pretend to see nothing, we can get those girls out of there! In fact, those girls will be out of there and backstage within seconds of the curtain coming down (in our performance we executed the escape in seven seconds). So how do we hear them and apparently see them up until the last moment? Naaah…I’ll save that secret for later. It’s a very simple subtlety, but there are several variations which I shall describe when we get there. Let’s not worry about that for now. However, there is one “prop” that I mentioned earlier. You will need this to get the girls off the platform. We know that the “witnesses” are not really guarding the back of the platform, so the girls are free to walk off. However, they can’t jump off or they will be seen underneath. This is where the Troupe Vanish “Escape Arm” comes into play. It is of fairly simple construction, a kind of “gangplank” which will allow the girls to run off the platform and through the rear curtains. I will describe the construction and operation when we get there.

you’re onto a winner! Part of this trick revolves around the illusion of time. You should take measurements of the stage (including the space behind the back curtain) and. where will you keep the platform when it’s not being used? Is there enough space in the wings? If there is no wing space. Find a location for the reappearance of the girls. (Refer to the section on sightlines for more information). there are some ways around this I will suggest in a later section). Check the audience seating and see how far to the side the people at the ends of the rows can see. However. If you are in no fit condition to run (I am not pointing any fingers…). Try running the route and timing yourself. You want to avoid drawing attention to the back curtain as being a possible exit.-4- So now we know: the witnesses are not really witnesses and the girls are free to run off the platform as soon as the curtain is down. there is so much more to this illusion than a fake audience committee. After all those are the best kind of magic secrets. Wherever you choose. If you or your friend can do it in fifteen seconds or less. it would be better for you to store the platform to the side of the stage. pick a route that doesn’t involve steps. Disappointed? I know…you were hoping that I would describe some intricate method of opening up a secret portal in the universe through which the girls were transported. If it does. aren’t they? However. you will need to find out if you can remove chairs. Check the rear stage curtain. There are many subtleties which will allow us to perform this routine lightning fast! Let’s start with getting our platform and stage in order and we’ll walk through the illusion in small steps. photographs. The back of the audience is a good place. how much room is there behind it? If you are doing more than one illusion. bring a slender friend to run the course for you (even better if your friend is one of the seven dancers). Does the venue have one? Can they put one up for you? (If not. if possible. If you can meet up with the person in charge of the venue. If possible. Is it well-lit? Are there any obstacles along the route? Any doors? They will need to be wedged open. you will be able to ask all the questions you need at this time. To the audience it will seem as if only a few seconds have passed between disappearance and reappearance. Performance venue The first thing you need to do before assembling props is to check out your performance venue. it should be accessible by a door behind the back row – you don’t want the audience to see the girls running in! Walk the route from the back of the stage to the reappearance location. rather than backstage. if you watch our video clip and make a note of the length of time between the curtain falling and . If the audience stretches too far round to the sides.

you will see it is around 25 seconds (doesn’t seem that long. does it?). too). Many venues will have what are called “thrusts” or “risers” – 8’x4’ platforms used to extend a stage. So you can comfortably allow 10 seconds to get the girls off the platform and 15 seconds to get them to their destination. However. two 4-foot tables side-by-side would work equally as well. However. you are set. the more impressive it will be. So. It will help you get everything clear in your mind. Make sure everything is properly secured. If the venue at which you will be performing has those. before I go on I should point out that the longer the platform. Turn around and look at the place where the girls will reappear. • A long bench would also work. but remember that the faster you do this. there are alternatives… • If you can find an 8-foot table that is sturdy enough to hold seven people. Or.-5- the reappearance. It would be unreasonable to expect a magician on a budget to construct an 8’x4’ reinforced aluminum platform on legs…especially one that had to bear the weight of seven people! Well. That’s a huge amount of time in relation to the general pacing of the routine. the safer the sightlines will be (more about that later. Incidentally. This is. You will also need a second platform or table. The audience should be able to see the legs of the “witnesses” very clearly. the platform upon which your girls will stand. . This is the reason I chose seven girls – it justified having a platform that long. you need to have a sturdy platform around 8 feet long which will support seven girls. Check before you build your frame. A good safe way of doing this would be to use two metal ladders and sliding the bench between the rungs at each end. you don’t have to build this yourself (unless you’re unbelievably wealthy. it would not be very high off the ground possibly a foot. part of the effect. about the same height (more about that later). after all. A few seconds over this is fine. I would recommend raising it up. if a bench is what you use. That’s exactly what I used. in which case I would recommend you contact Jim Steinmeyer and get him to build you something really cool). which does not give a very clear view underneath. Bear this in mind when you are choosing your platform. Sit in various seats in the audience and picture the stage set-up in your mind. that would be ideal. Basically. Can it be seen clearly? You should build a mental image of the routine and how you imagine it will look. Platform Time to start putting your props together! Firstly.

Given the amount of material needed (grab a pencil and paper and work it out!). I have some suggestions for that. folded flat and supported on two trestles. my frame was 7’10” x 3’10” – one inch shorter on each side than the platform top. you now need to fix up a curtain. Make sure it is held down well. However – and I can not stress this enough – you must make sure that the platform is uncompromisingly safe. The height should be about 6’. but it may be more expensive. If you are in any doubt as to its sturdiness. The curtain dimensions will be… Length: (2 x frame width) + (2 x frame length) + an extra 2 feet Height: frame height plus an extra 1 foot . I would recommend that you don’t hammer the connectors on fully until you are completely sure you have the dimensions of frame you require. you will want it to be as light as possible. If you have a different sized platform. As I used an 8’x4’ platform. You could use metal piping if you wish. So those are just some of the possibilities. make sure everything is properly secured. You can fix the frame to the platform using clamps or sandbags. The main object is to have the girls at least 3 feet off the ground with a clear view underneath.-6- • Another possibility is an 8-foot ladder. If you are happy with your frame. Frame and curtain Let’s start with the frame for an 8’x4’ platform. available at most hardware stores. it will be secure. If you have used one of the alternative platform ideas. The corners are joined with three-way corner connectors. as seen on the video clip. Tip: insert thin wooden dowels into the pipes that form the top edge of the frame – it will prevent the pipes from bending and sagging. Test it and test it again. which I will describe in a moment. Although the PVC may seem to be unstable. start over. You would have to use a strip of ¾” plywood along the rungs so the girls don’t fall through! Again. you will have to change the width and length of the frame. The frame is made from 1-inch PVC piping. you may have to change the operation of the curtain.

leave gaps in the curtain’s magnetic strip where it turns the corner of the frame. they are light and delicate. you run the risk of the curtain falling if one of the strips gives out. The best method for this. Target. for example). Your local hardware store will sell rolls of ½ inch magnetic strip. we are looking at a 26’x7’ curtain. Make sure the strip has the correct side facing out – the magnetism only works one way round. Glue magnetic strip along the outside of the top of the curtain. Test on a small area first. That happened to us at the first performance . you will now need to attach the curtain. but remember you have to be able to rip the whole curtain away with one pull. Velcro. Perfect! Figure out how many of those you will need and then glue (or sew) them together. They will often have a selection of “bargain” fabrics at around 99c per yard. Also. I did consider Velcro. even small amounts. If there is tension on the corners. may offer too much resistance in this instance. assuming that you are using a PVC frame. thereby saving you money. and these ends will hang free and leave a gap. You can cut away any overlap. the appearance of the platform. So for an 8’x4’x6’ frame (or just under). or even less. if you’re lucky. among which are plastic tablecloths. Ask if they can do you any special deals – you never know what you can find! Another option. you will want the curtain to hang on the inside of the frame so you can pull the whole thing through for the vanish. make a small vertical cut at the corner to allow some slack. You’ll see why that’s important in a minute. Many large retail stores (such as WalMart.) have fabric departments. which may prove cheaper. However. it may be sufficient to have intermittent magnets (4” strips every 2 feet. Remember. The girls do not need to waste time trying to find where the curtains part. Glue magnetic strip along the top of the frame. You need a light fabric which is also opaque. and working around until it ends where it started. Gluing then sewing would be the safest option. frame and curtain is certainly not the most important thing. You will need to leave 6” at either end of the curtain without magnets. Your curtain will be your biggest expense. is magnets. So. Ordinary-looking props can work in your favor. If you have a very light curtain. Being inexpensive ($1). etc. The curtain will be attached to the frame starting in the back at the center. They often have party supplies. Remember.-7- The extra 1 or 2 feet allows for some slack. is to investigate those “everything for a dollar” stores. I have found. Note: if you use glue. So you want to keep it as light as possible without spending a bundle on expensive material. It would be easiest to hang the curtain as you go to be sure the strips are in exactly the right place. use fabric glue – regular household glues are likely to burn through the plastic.

you will need another way to rig the curtain. you will want to test to make sure it holds correctly and pulls away just as you want it to. your magnetic strip may have too much grip. A note of caution: when you come to release each “bundle” of curtain. starting in the center of each side and working toward the corners. that should hold. Other ways to rig a curtain If you are not using a full PVC frame. Make sure your frame is anchored down firmly – some sandbags should do the trick. If the rope has sufficient grip. You will find that a gentle tug on the curtain will be all it takes to release the rope. You don’t want to advertise the fact that there is a gap back there. The curtain should be tied up so it stays put. do not complete the knot – just do the first half (as if you were tying a shoelace but stopping before the “bow” part).-8- (you can see it on the video). So my advice is this: use as much of the magnetic strip as you can afford! Once you have your curtain prepared (and all glue is dry). Don’t be timid! You may find it helpful to spin round. Lay your curtain out on the floor and slice out a few inches of strip at intervals using a craft knife. The gaps in the strip will lessen the resistance slightly. If there is too much resistance. but is easily released. but a quick-thinking stagehand grabbed the curtain and held it up manually. Pull on both ends of the rope and leave them hanging downwards (that is important). or a helpful buddy who happens to be around. The magnetic strip should pull away easily. starting at the bottom and working your way up to the top by the magnetic strip. Tie the rope around the bundle and the frame. Tying up the curtain You will want to tie up the curtain at intervals. You run the risk of allowing the weight of the curtain to pull itself from the frame magnets. However. do not just let it drop to the platform (unless you are confident the magnets will hold). Give a gentle tug on the curtain and catch the weight of the material in your hand. Lower it to the platform. Gather up the curtain. Here’s a good way to do it… Cut a strip of rope about 2 feet long. Here are a couple of ways… . giving you that extra few feet of pull. You should be able to work your way from rope to rope fairly quickly. Don’t cut out too much – you can always repeat this process until you have exactly the right amount. Make sure the ends of the curtain meet at the back when it is tied up. Pull the curtain away in one sharp movement. Use a good quality rope with a good grip (not too smooth).

This needs to be sturdy but light enough to lift into place quickly. You will have guaranteed support and a clean “rip away” every time! It should also be noted that if you choose not to use magnets. the better the “rip”! The “secret prop” I refer to this as a “secret prop” purely to avoid giving away anything in the index! From now on. where the assistants are. I would recommend you measure from the back of the platform to the rear stage curtain and add 2 feet. A width of 18” should be enough. Before I describe the construction of this prop. about the same height as the first. then fold the curtains back at the bottom and fix into place. you can eliminate the need for PVC piping altogether. and the assistants can reach the corners. They must ensure that they leave a little curtain dangling below the level of the platform. If you wish.-9- Assemble a rectangle of PVC piping large enough to fit around the platform with a little room to spare. Just sew about 3” at the top where the ends meet. so the girls could really sprint down the escape arm with confidence! Okay – the escape arm. This frame can be raised by two assistants. as the girls will be arriving on it. Just have the assistants hold up the curtain by the corners. one either end. we were fortunate enough to have a second “riser” platform behind the curtain. you only need to have a length of PVC piping at each end. However. This will be set just behind the rear stage curtain and will support the escape arm. standing on chairs. I made mine 8 feet long. I shall call it what it is – the escape arm. or you can fix it permanently if you are going to simply lower the frame for the reveal (personally. you will need to attach the ends to each other at the rear. Attach the top edge of the curtain to the PVC. I like the “rip” – it’s more dramatic!). the lighter the curtain. such as bed sheets. do not underestimate the weight of that much material if you use regular cloth. However. you may want to try and keep the weight down a bit. but yours can be shorter or longer depending upon how you have your stage set up. That gives you a 1foot overlap at each end. It will need to be sturdy. Also. Taking this one step further. if you are using a narrow enough platform. The diagrams show how everything is set up. You may recall I mentioned that you would need a second platform or table. the weight of the curtain will be less of an issue. If they pull the curtain taught between them. . This is what the girls will run across as they make their way from the platform to backstage. If you have assistants standing on chairs holding a curtain up between them. I should address the second platform which I referred to earlier. It will give you the gap for the girls to walk through. You can use magnetic strip if you wish to “rip away” the curtain. the long sides will remain supported. In our performance.

There are some subtleties which I will describe further on. You must test this prop rigorously before you use it. How you do this is up to you. Paint the whole thing black. Your assistants will have to lift the arm so the lip goes up and over the PVC. it bears repeating. this should ideally be the final illusion in your show. This should not cost you too much to make. the audience doesn’t see this and later on I describe two ways to achieve this without them ever knowing about it. Use good strong screws. Of course. You should lay two strips of florescent tape along the edges of the top. Now you have the props you need. . Firstly. Then test it for structural integrity. and you may be able to negotiate some old scraps from your local hardware store for next to nothing. However. I had three grown men stand on it and walk around. it will be dark and they will be running along a black gangplank!). Make the last “rung” about 3” taller than the rest of the frame. They provide the main structural support. the two long pieces of 2”x4” that run the length of the arm must be two complete pieces of quality timber.-10- For construction I used a strip of ¾ inch plywood braced with a frame made from 2”x4” wood. you will need to add a “lip” at one end of the arm to raise it up so it does not lay flat on the lower back edge of the frame. If you are using a PVC frame on your platform. beach balls or something equally as fun into the crowd (once I even used rolls of toilet paper – I made sure they unraveled as they flew). which I will explain in a later section. it’s time to think through the routine from start to finish. That’s at least 500 pounds – substantially more than it will need to support. but the basic “behind the scenes” workings look like this… Audience members are chosen at random by throwing Frisbees. This committee of “witnesses” is led up to the stage. They are prepped as to what is about to happen and become immediate accomplices. Fix the tape down with tacks or nails at intervals so it does not pull up with use. The routine Firstly. There is a good reason for this. place it between two sturdy boxes or tables like a bridge to ensure that it does not wobble. This will act as a guide for the girls as they run along it (remember. As obvious as this sounds.

who pull it back offstage. Stagehand #2 has begun to lower his side of the curtain. assisted by your female assistants and your helpers backstage. Your two female assistants assist by taking the arm between them and helping to feed it toward the platform. though. the dancers all turn and face the rear of the platform. As he is doing this. Once the sides have been lowered. probably dressed in black) stand either side waiting to assist with the routine.-11- The platform is center stage. the curtain is lowered. With a few parting words. As soon as the sides of the curtain have been lowered. You can start to lower the front and your stagehands can take over the sides. and as soon as the last girl is out he lifts the arm and slides it backwards. Stagehand #2 goes round the back a few seconds after stagehand #1. he reaches back and grabs the escape arm and lifts the end into place on the platform. The whole point of this stagehand choreography is that you really don’t want to see both guys back there at the same time. They do not go round the back at the same time. the girls run along it and through the rear stage curtain as fast as they possibly can. That would draw . your stagehands will naturally go round the back to lower the rear of the curtain. They take half the group each and meet at the back in a line. Stagehand #2 comes back round to “check” his side. He then immediately goes back around to the side of the platform to “check” the curtain. with the two girls in the middle. the escape arm is thread through the rear stage curtain by your assistants backstage. Two stagehands (male assistants. The witnesses are led into place by your two female assistants (if you do not have two girls to help you. Here’s where timing comes into play. either side of the rear stage curtain opening. As soon as the escape arm is in place. If the second platform backstage is smooth enough it can be slid out. don’t worry – later I’ll describe a way around this). At the same time. The dancers take their place on the platform. Stagehand #1 goes around the back and begins to lower his side of the curtain (which will probably fall down by itself after one tug).

you can do this too! Anyway. which should be fairly light. “Yes!”. Your two female assistants (who are behind the platform in the center) both yell. Just before the vanish. “Ladies. This speeds things up a lot. they have apparently heard and seen enough evidence that the girls are still on the platform. which meant the stagehands were scrambling to save the illusion from being ruined! So you don’t see the exact movements as described above. Remember. it has only been a few seconds since the curtain was brought down – they must still be there. Now here’s one of the cool parts. right? This is a subtlety. All this happens incredibly fast. Besides. Yes folks. A piece of PVC piping would be ideal. and unless you happen to know a seven-member dance troupe. From the audience perspective. In our video you can see we had a curtain issue. so that’s what you will do.-12- too much attention to the rear of the platform. you’ll be trying to think of just who you can make vanish. You want to have one stagehand in view at the side of the platform at all times. from the time the sides of the curtain were lowered to the moment all the girls were offstage. there is a helper lifting them off the second platform. . you (the magician) tap the curtain and yell. The girls immediately sprint around to the back of the audience and wait to be revealed. are you ready?”. which is not compulsory but does just add a little visual touch to enhance the illusion that the girls are still there. It will not really register with the audience that they only heard two voices. As the girls shout. This pole should be long enough to reach through the stage curtain to the front of the platform curtain. But vanishing seven girls is always more impressive than vanishing just one. the pole is tapped against the front of the platform curtain a couple of times. With the music going (more about that later) the audience will perceive that response as coming from the girls on the platform. “Yes!”. We timed ourselves at around seven seconds during rehearsal. There is a section later on which addresses this issue. that’s exactly how the audience will perceive it. I designed this illusion specifically for the dance troupe with whom I was sharing the stage. There is a second element to this. so this was not an issue. but it is a powerful part of the illusion. You (the magician) should always look busy. There are some things to help achieve this speed which I shall describe in another section. and then immediately withdrawn to backstage. (This is only possible if all the girls have left the escape arm). as the girls arrive backstage. Anyone have a spare dance troupe? You’ve probably run the illusion through in your head by this point. One of your backstage helpers needs to have a long pole. Any time you look like you are stalling.

If you don’t have such a team to hand. but you need to make sure you have dependable people helping you. They should be comfortable appearing on stage. though – I mean. Remember – tell people only that which they need to know! Volunteer assistants Unless you are famous enough to have a regular entourage of highly-trained assistants at your disposal. Remember. It is a little unnerving. Choose your volunteers wisely! Just because someone is willing to help with an illusion. with a solid rehearsal and clear communication to your volunteers. You may not have an abundance of people to choose from. You may be able to find seven female volunteers from the performance venue (especially if the venue is a church.-13- If you have seven female friends who would be willing to participate in the illusion. There is a section later on in which I describe how to vanish seven randomly-chosen audience members. but will certainly be as effective. they should be able to do the sprint from backstage to behind the audience. You will need several people to help with this illusion. you will have to advertise. there’s not much you can do about it! However. If you can. You need not even tell them that it will be a vanish. you don’t know if the trick worked or not until you pull away the curtain. school or similar). you should not tell them anything about the illusion until the rehearsal. I would recommend enlisting the following… 3 backstage helpers – reasonably strong. Whoever ends up being your seven-member ensemble. all should go well. that doesn’t necessarily mean that they would be suitable for the job. good health. good health. you could use kids! You would have to make sure there was constant parental supervision and that the kids were responsible and trustworthy. At that point. I can put your mind at rest by assuring you it is not as daunting a prospect as you may think. 2 onstage “stagehands” – reasonably strong. • 2 female assistants – also comfortable appearing onstage. Before you shudder at the thought of putting your entire magical reputation in the hands of a bunch of well-meaning but untrained helpers who may or may not do the right thing at the right time. At least one of them should be comfortable giving other people directions. It is not likely to be as quick. that’s great. but you certainly should not tell anyone about the reappearance. • • . you are probably going to have to enlist the help of volunteers. The vanish of seven kids is equally impressive and is always a great crowd pleaser. Alternatively.

You are ready to walk through the vanish. • Be very specific about who you want to do what. either side of the gap in the rear curtain. and your secret is out.-14- You can perform this illusion with as little as three helpers if absolutely necessary – one female assistant. Make sure the second platform is directly behind the rear stage curtain and the escape arm is on it. turn to face the back. So. out the back and around to your . The rehearsal It is unlikely that you will have the luxury of more than one rehearsal for this illusion. You will need to ensure that everyone knows exactly what they should do and that you know in advance where everything will be set. It may well be the case that you do not even meet some of your volunteer assistants until the dress rehearsal. Have the platform set up on the stage. As soon as the escape arm is in place. So you will need to have a focused and well-considered rehearsal plan in place. • Make your rehearsal a “closed rehearsal”. sprint across it. one stagehand and one guy backstage. you start the rehearsal. Put a clear sign on the outside of every door. This is not an unreasonable expectation. ready to be slid into position. It will help them understand the part they are playing. Your two stagehands should be positioned one either side of the platform. • Talk your helpers through the illusion as the audience will see it. Give simple instructions. A few things to bear in mind… • Thank your volunteers in advance and let them know how much you appreciate their help. Your two female assistants should stand behind the platform. That means all the doors are shut and nobody comes in who is not directly involved with the show. if you can get the full seven volunteers you stand a better chance of having a smooth and lightning fast performance. However. All it takes is one snooper to come in and see you using the escape arm. (During the routine they would have just led the witnesses on to the stage). including the location for the girls’ reappearance and the exact route to get there. Remember – you are relying on them to make you look good! • Stress that you are about to reveal closely-guarded secrets of magic and that you would appreciate them not telling anyone outside the rehearsal. Your three backstage helpers should be backstage. Here are the individual instructions you should give in preparation… • Troupe: as soon as the curtain front and sides are down. particularly with your full stage set-up and all assistants in attendance.

As the girls reach the end of the escape arm. you should walk the entire length of the route the girls will take. then immediately pull it backstage. Female assistants: as soon as the front and sides of the curtain are down. When magician asks. help them jump off the second platform (work out a preferred technique with the girls – arms around waist. Feed it towards the platform. Help feed the arm back once the dancers have left. this sequence should run smoothly. especially the girls of the troupe. but this last-minute check is particularly important. Then go back round to your side. Stagehand #2: bring down the curtain on your side. lift the end off the platform and push it back towards the rear curtain (the others will take over). Walk through the routine slowly at first. continuing to lower the curtain. As the female assistants shout “Yes!”. This will save valuable seconds. You should also do this before the show. Then a few more times. If the girls can jump off both sides of the second platform.-15- • • • • • • appearance location. Stall a little. Backstage helper #2: Assist #1 with the escape arm. They should be comfortable enough to sprint across the escape arm without any worries. get ready to grab the escape arm between you as it comes through the rear curtain. Do not wait for the person behind you – it’s every girl for herself! Stagehand #1: bring down the curtain on your side. tap the front curtain a couple of times with the pole. . you can help down every other girl. without using the curtain. pull the escape arm back in. work your way around to the back. As soon as the last dancer is across the escape arm. reach back and pull it up to the platform. Once the sequence is running smoothly. pretend to “adjust” it. As the escape arm is fed through the rear curtain. feed the escape arm through the curtain and push. gradually getting faster. Make sure everyone is comfortable with what they have to do. Do not step forward – your legs can be seen underneath the platform. Go back round to your side. After all girls have left the platform. Backstage helper #3: While the “witness” selection is taking place. If everyone does exactly what they should. take the long pole (remember the extra visual element I described in the “routine” section?) and feed it through the rear curtain and into the curtain enclosing the platform. Have someone time the routine. hold their hands as they jump…whatever they find most useful). As soon as the front and sides of the platform curtain are down. As soon as the escape arm is in place. continuing to bring down the curtain. Make sure it is free from obstacles and that any doors they may encounter are firmly wedged open. As soon as you have helped the last girl down. are you ready?” – shout “Yes!” Backstage helper #1: Peek through the stage curtain so you can see what’s going on. run it through using the curtain and having the girls run the route to their appearance location. Work your way around to the back. “Ladies.

Don’t just choose anyone. Your female assistants will lead them onto the stage. they will play an important part in helping to make this illusion possible. Prearrange it with them and let them know what they will be doing. Read the section on sightlines for more information. If that’s the case. they are all drunk kids…whatever the reason). have a couple of stools behind the platform for them to sit on. they are all drunk. at the head of the center aisle. Assuming you are able to gather people randomly from the audience (which is the best option). Throw something into the audience. and in a minute they will be . for example). you will know that. Tell them to leave the beach balls back there. if you have read this document from the beginning. Once the beach balls are flying. If you can’t do that. Make the selection process as fun as possible. Either “first to catch them” or “whoever has them when the music stops” will work. you need to give specific instructions as to what the lucky “winners” should do. Yes folks – the witnesses are truly random! Well. you won’t get a word in edgeways! Instruct them to make their way along their row to the appropriate aisle. have someone sit in the audience at the extreme seats either side. Ask them not to tell anyone! If you have to go with this option. remove those seats. people who everyone would know and trust: the president of a company and several board members.-16- Here’s something I found helped a little. such as beach balls. If you are in a position where you don’t think you can trust the people in the audience (because they are all kids. then I would suggest pre-arranging your witnesses. You should pick 4 or 6 people – make it an even number. although these witnesses are truly randomly selected. they will need to be prepared before they reach the stage. assemble the committee from significant people (that is. and then back to where your assistants are waiting. You want to be sure that people on the ends of rows can’t see anything they shouldn’t. you could manage with as little as two witnesses. You will want to see exactly what the audience sees and make any adjustments as necessary. If there is a sightline issue. My female assistants would shout “Go! Go! Go!” as the girls of the troupe were running along the escape arm (not so loud that the audience could hear). Make them feel special! You should position these as in the diagram. choose either house left or house right. while ensuring that it is completely random. Also. Have your two female assistants waiting at the back of the audience. to their stools and then take their assigned places. If there is no center aisle. Before you throw things out to the crowd. It just seemed to provide a little more motivation! I would recommend having someone take video of the rehearsal. you may have to move the platform back a little.

please pretend that you don’t see it”. and anyone else you can think of). they will realize that they are part of the act. Make it short and simple and get ready to come up to the stage. Your assistant should gather them together and say something like. why don't you join me on stage…and bring your new friends”. you should finish by thanking your two female assistants. If you’re not sure. On the back of the curtain. I even had one guy look under the platform after the girls had disappeared to try and see if he could see where they went. Don’t tell them what they are about to see. not the escape arm. my friends ______ and _______. by reading the signs they will be looking at the curtain. At this point they are still unaware of what’s about to happen. you need to immediately go over to your witnesses and thank them like they just saved your butt. and while they are doing so. While you are handing out thanks. Make sure they are not within hearing range of the back row of the audience. you finish up your patter. if the illusion worked! Thank them . At this point. you need to stall for about 30 seconds. I mentioned earlier that this illusion should be the last illusion of the show.-17- brought up to the stage as a group. Actually. you can be fairly sure that your committee will play along. Which ever option you choose. will be written: “Please play along – pretend not to see anything!”. Here’s the alternative: instead of having the beach-ball-catchers meet your assistants at the back. Virtually everyone likes to be let in on a secret. dude. and the audience will know this. At that moment. have them come straight up onto the stage. I’d like to thank two wonderful girls who have brought some class to this evening. They will make their way down the aisle to the stage. “During this illusion you may be exposed to some secrets of magic. Your patter should sound something like: “Finally. It doesn’t matter if they don’t completely understand – it will make sense soon enough. including the volunteers who have helped you (plus lights and sound technicians. They will be completely innocent up until the curtain is brought down. I have a good reason for recommending this. Are you all prepared to keep those secrets to yourselves? Good. Nice touch. The perfect excuse would be to thank some people. on either side of the gap. Now. Whoever you thank. It’s important to have some justification for taking the committee back there. even though he had just seen them walk off the back of the stage! That brought a smile to my face. As soon as you have taken a bow and the curtains have closed. whatever you see. one of your female assistants will be prepping your witnesses. Hey girls. or explain what the witnesses will be doing. especially if they are going to help make a trick work and they will play along. in whatever order. go with the prepping at the back of the theatre – it’s a little safer. and don’t overdo this part. Your assistants can still lead them behind the platform. but it’s up to you which you choose. This alternative has a few benefits visually. There is an alternative to having the witnesses prepped by your assistants. Which is probably what they just did.

The fewer people that are around to witness this grand proclamation. That’s the easy solution. Once you are sure of where the platform needs to be. move the chairs back and look again. elephant. Would you please do me this favor and keep the secret to yourselves?”. jumbo jet. This is not compulsory. of course. If they are positioned too far around the side of the stage. Sightlines You should find that the sightlines for this illusion do not pose any major problems. “You helped to make this illusion possible. Put a couple of chairs 8’ apart on the stage and walk around the audience. if need be. the further forward it can be. You can be fairly sure that they will do that. In fact. Most people appreciate a few minutes of your attention and are fascinated by everything on the stage. do so. the better! Don’t just hold the witnesses there against their will – think of something to justify their being there. You should not be able to see the gap in the rear curtain except between the chairs. your first mission would be to see if you can have those seats removed. and if you feel comfortable letting them back into the main house after you thank them.-18- for participating and say something like. They may tell their family members or close friends if they ask. This is just another way to help protect the secret. If you can. you should be able to position it around 6’ from the rear curtain without the audience seeing anything suspicious. hold the witnesses back for a few minutes while everyone else leaves. If you have anything interesting on the stage (water tank escape. if your seats are not in a fixed position.). etc. You could even get a group photo with them. take some rough measurements – this will determine how long your escape arm needs to be. Another reason for making this the last illusion of the show is the fact that you can. Let your assistants go over and say thanks and shake hands (especially if there are men among the witnesses and you have hot-looking female assistants…right there’s your opportunity to stall for time!). Remember: the distance from the rear curtain to the platform plus an extra 2ft (1ft at either end). that is certainly a better solution than moving the platform back. If your platform is 8’ long. the better. In my opinion. . give them a tour of the stage…without showing them how everything’s done. so they will not be in any hurry to get out of there. You should definitely check your sightlines when you first visit the performance venue. You will certainly want to check the seats at the extreme end of each row. but it’s a small price to pay for such a high-impact illusion. Some people will want to immediately return to their family or friends and tell them exactly how the trick worked.

stand in them and take a look. Let’s start with pacing. You may just have someone wandering in them during your performance. Your audience seating should form a slight wedge shape leading from the stage. give yourself something deliberate to do. Once the curtain has come down around the troupe. the magician. even just for a moment. If the stage is wide enough. timing is the speed of the illusion as perceived by you. If you stall for time. Don’t forget. square on to the stage for a whole show and see how your neck feels at the end of it! Pacing and timing Although these are two different concepts. Incidentally. you will have to find an alternative method of restricting the view. Not only is this a safe sightline layout. You want to give the impression that this is a fast-paced illusion (which it is. by way of contrast. As you run through the illusion during rehearsal.-19- If you are dealing with an auditorium with fixed seating and you need to address end of row sightline issues. . Generally speaking. restricting the view on the end seats. pacing is the speed of the illusion as perceived by the audience. You should give the impression that you want to do the vanish as soon as you can. Try sitting on the end of a row. it will be a smooth and quick performance. if you’re one of the girls). If you find that you need to squeeze out a few more seconds before the vanish. If you can keep control of the two. the audience will notice it. but the inward angle makes it a little more comfortable for your audience. you may be able to close the curtain slightly. you will know if you are standing around or not. they actually go hand in hand to make a convincing performance. You want to leave the impression in the audience’s mind that it takes a long time to get seven girls on (or off!) the platform. you must keep busy. with the seats angled in slightly (see diagram). You only need to close it enough to conceal the back side of the platform. if there are aisles at the extreme sides of the auditorium. taking their time to do so. you should have the girls mount the platform one at a time.

the last girl running into place. Now it’s unlikely that there would be literally no girls there – after all. they can do it in 10 seconds. will always look like a stall tactic! Moving a step or telling your witnesses to get ready can look like essential preparation. make it deliberate and integral to the illusion. Whatever you choose to do. but we’ll say 15. “Do you want to see them again? Yes? Well then look behind you!”. i. Seconds count in this illusion. That would buy you about 1 second…a valuable second given that you do not want the audience to see any girls running into place. you could add to the drama before the reveal. that’s how long it takes. How do you expend time while looking busy? If you used a step for the girls to get up to the platform. If you needed to buy a few more seconds. you did time out your rehearsals. but it works in cartoons. you should turn around after removing the curtain and see. “Ladies and gentlemen. If you only need to buy 1 or 2 seconds. know how long it takes to get the girls off the platform (including getting the escape arm in place and back). “Witnesses – keep your eyes on the platform!” before you ask the girls if they are ready. For example. and only as many as you need. Then there’s timing. and if you do it quickly no one will suspect anything.-20- Back to the vanish. you could shout some kind of instruction to the witnesses. Even crossing from one side of the stage to the other can earn you an extra 2 or 3 seconds. just to be sure”. such as. If that’s not enough.e. So what happens if you turn around and there are no girls at the reappearance location? Well. Firstly. If you have been economical with your timing. But you may find you need to buy yourself a couple of extra seconds just to let the last girl or two to get into place. Do it quickly! Alternatively. It’s tempting to say. So you could turn to the witnesses and ask. “Everybody look behind you”. all you would need to do would be to add a few words to the call to the audience to look behind them. Not the best solution. This is the real speed of the illusion and the precise interaction between all the elements. That’s the maximum amount of time you should allow for that. The more intelligent solution would be to buy a little time without the audience realizing that’s what you’re doing. you could then turn to the audience and ask. “Well. if you had planned to say. “Where did they go?” before you finally reveal the girls. one solution is to have one of your assistants bring the car round to the backstage door and keep the engine running. you could say. have a reason for doing what you choose to do. There are a few different ways you can do this and it all depends upon how much time you really need to buy. at the back of the auditorium. please turn around and look behind you”. however quickly you do it. That means you have used every second wisely. That whole scenario buys you . you could move that to the side of the stage (that’s exactly what I did). If they can do it in 10. Wrong! You don’t need to draw it out any longer than necessary. Tying your shoelaces or waving your hands magically at the curtain. so most of the girls should be there.

Can you imagine David Copperfield ever saying. you can edit a soundtrack to fit the routine precisely. you can see that I turn to the witnesses and give a gesture as if to say. will see underneath and around the sides at all times”. The audience won’t know you are stalling for time unless you drop the energy. Even the most brilliant professional magicians have an outline to their patter…some even have a scriptwriter and have everything they say planned out to the exact word. “Where are they?” – it was just enough to allow the last girl to get into place. Then turn to the audience. If you’re not. On the video clip. don’t worry! . so it’s fun to leave some of the dialog to chance. “Um…er…”? My patter in the video clip was a mixture of ad lib and pre-planning. let’s just hope you never have to do this! It does illustrate the point. when I start to tell the audience about the witnesses and the role they will play. On a serious note. that you need to have a plan. if you do turn around and see no girls back there whatsoever. you should keep the energy flowing and the pacing to a maximum. I want that part to be concise and clear. Write your patter to suit your personality. invite the witnesses to check the platform to make sure they are really gone. Concise and clear. You can be certain that she was running one second earlier! Patter “Patter” (for those of you just starting out in magic) is the technical term given to what you say throughout the routine. I immediately revert to the script. the audience. This is not a bad thing. If you are musically inclined. say. However. However. I love to interact with the audience. Having a solid idea of what you want to say will assist you in keeping a good pace going. Don’t wait for applause. though. thank them and close out the show. However. If the girls turn up while you are doing this. then know what you will do if you have to stall for time. “Our witnesses will view this illusion from the back.-21- around 7 seconds – a huge amount of time. don’t hesitate. You. too! Music Music is going to play a huge role in giving your performance drive and energy. then someone’s locked a door backstage and you can be fairly certain the girls are not going to reappear! In which case. “Look who’s been watching the show!” and point to the girls at the back. Know your basic routine and patter. So it might go something like. So. effectively making this platform completely surrounded. decide what you will “ad lib” and what you will script. especially if you are giving information or instructions.

Make a rough edit. I put it on an iPod and listened to it every day for a month while I did my morning workout (yes. you may still want to do some minor editing – maybe add or remove a verse. You should have a rough timing for the vanish and reappearance. In truth. One that I particularly recommend is called “Audacity” – do an online search and download it. If you are not comfortable with music editing. However. and get a rough timing for that too. Add or remove music as necessary and do it again. So you have loaded the girls onto the platform and you are ready to make them vanish. there are some free editors out there. The top-of-the-line software will cost you several hundred (thousand…) dollars. repeat a chorus. If you’ve chosen a soundtrack. If you choose to have music. plus a few other tricks. Not a good investment for an illusion that cost you $70 to build! However. It can do just about everything you would need. read the online manual first. Anyway. Whatever you use. Your music edits under patter do not have to be perfectly neat – the audience will be focused on what you have to say. You will still need the soundtrack to roughly fit the timing you have established. moving on…). you will want to get a rough timing of your patter as the witnesses and girls get into place. if you have not used music so far). the illusion does not begin properly until the curtain comes down around the girl – that’s when the pace picks up. you will want it to fit very closely – a song has a little more flexibility. the second option may be best for you. assuming you have your software in place and you have chosen your song or soundtrack. . then act out your patter while playing it back.-22- There seems to be two different kinds of musical underscoring used for illusions nowadays: 1) the movie soundtrack that is edited to fit the illusion and 2) the song to which the illusion is choreographed. the whole process of selecting and editing music for your performance is not as daunting as it may sound! Firstly. You should treat the illusion set-up and the vanish as two separate elements. When I edited the soundtrack for my performance. etc. You will find that repeated trial and error is the best way to get the timing just right. you will need some music editing software. So for the illusion set-up you can be easy with the music…or even have none if you wish. Even with an existing song. I do try to keep fit…does it show? No? Okay. The music should pick up at this point (or start. Familiarity with the music will pay you big rewards. the girls getting on to the platform. It will save you a whole heap of frustration! So. you will want to make sure it fits the illusion. Run through the rest of the illusion in your mind…the placement of witnesses. I found that I was eventually able to get my patter to fit the music down to the second.

It will help you to visualize the onstage activity as well as get you familiar with the music. They may just have something up their sleeve! An unfriendly stage It’s a perfectly valid question: what if the stage has no rear escape route? It is possible that the stage has no rear curtain. Edit the music around this timing. If you are using a song. but do take advice from the person controlling the lights. It’s up to you…but make sure you remember what you are supposed to say to cue the sound operator! Lights and mist I’m not going to say much about this – it all depends what is available to you at the performance venue. the music should be fast and exciting (like you couldn’t figure that one out. You should have an idea of how long it takes you get the girls off the platform. don’t worry. or if it does. Give him a cue sheet detailing the exact moment you want the music to start. right?!). The reappearance does not really need any musical enhancement – it carries enough of an impact on its own. It is a good idea to run through the illusion in your head many times while listening to the music. you are going to have to change things round a . especially if mixed with a little mist. One last point – make sure your sound operator for your performance knows exactly where to start the music. find an obvious climax to the music for the reveal. If you are using a soundtrack. if you can have some lights at the back of the stage shining forward (not directly into the audience’s eyes. Well. You can simply have no music during the platform load (so make sure your patter is interesting!) and then kick in a heavy techno beat when you are ready to pull down the curtain. If you have music for the load. if you are unable to have even a very basic curtain installed. Although the music is important (it helps give the impression that the illusion is moving faster than it may actually be). However. If you just do not feel that editing music is something with which you are comfortable. girls!”. but at an angle). it will make it a little harder to see the rear stage curtain. Have in mind the kind of mood you want to set on stage. you may want a cue line – something like. “Let’s do this!” or “Say goodnight. Get a stack of CD’s of club music and find something that suits your performance.-23- Whether you choose to use a song or a soundtrack. the exact edit is not so important. so long as the music keeps its intensity at the point of reveal. it is not something you should lose sleep over. If you are not starting the music until you are ready to do the vanish. it may start when the first girl gets on the platform or when the witnesses reach the stage. no space behind it.

People do not want to have to twist their heads round 180 degrees to see your performance. Even though we had a black rear stage curtain and plenty of lights on stage. these venues have exits at the ends of the stage. have them reappear at house left. your sightlines will change. then make yourself a mini “stage”. The reappearance could still take place at the back of the audience. given the tighter angle.-24- bit. or nearby. though. You have to be realistic – if you can not see any viable way to get the girls out through the back. although I would recommend having them show up at the opposite side of the venue from where they vanished. This is a detail you will have discovered during your first visit to the performance venue. before you admit defeat. you are going to have to change the locations for the vanish and reappearance. If you have to set up your platform in a place other than the stage. you could assemble your platform right there. there . although you do not want to stage it further back than half way down through the audience. you may find they improve. Maybe you could even have the witnesses stand on chairs set around the platform. I designed it to be flexible and performable in most venues. so you will have to check them out. Remember. Remember – if you do not think you can stage and perform this illusion to the best of your ability (due to location. Check to see if there are portable lights you can have set up around your illusion. Have the platform as far away from the rear curtain as you can get away with. If you can hang two curtains over the exit and wedge the doors open. but a mediocre performance will cheat you out of the reputation you deserve as an entertainer. One other little detail This is a little something that occurred to me while I was playing the illusion through in my head. The more you can do to draw attention away from that rear curtain. Specifically. The witnesses should help to remove all suspicion that the rear curtain is a viable exit. If they vanished from the exit at house right. Actually. etc). Sometimes. you may just have to resign yourself to the fact that you can not perform Troupe Vanish in this venue. The sides of the venue may have potential. conditions. and there is no other part of the venue where you could stage this illusion. it will make the rear curtain harder to see. have a look around the auditorium and see if there is an alternate location. However. If you can have it illuminated. or at least if the stage lights can be refocused over to your platform location. you should not do it. the better.

For a little comic relief you can encourage them to wave goodbye their families and friends before you pull down the curtain.-25- was a possibility of light bleeding through from backstage when we fed the escape arm through (even though it would be kept very dim back there). after I designed the Troupe Vanish it occurred to me that you could perform this illusion with seven random audience members. either below or above the platform. this is not an exercise in discrimination. One just below the level of the platform and one about 6ft above the level of the escape arm. you would have no real control over who was chosen for this illusion. you can choose the two witnesses. have nine audience members randomly selected and brought to the stage. However. Explain to the audience what the witnesses will be doing (just as in the regular routine). This is a reasonable request and it eliminates the majority of people who are likely to pose a problem through issues of weight or physical dexterity. . You should specify that you only want people who are in good health to catch the ball. You need two clips. Have two stools in place for them to sit on. and these I will describe in performance order. From those nine. Not to be unfairly discriminatory or anything. but let’s not forget that there is running involved (as well as crossing that pesky escape arm!). Don’t forget that you will also need a couple of witnesses. to clip the curtains together in two places. There is a simple solution. As you pull each witness out of the line-up. Use a piece of glow tape to mark the positions so the clips can be attached when it is dim backstage. There would have to be a few minor modifications made. there was the possibility of the audience spotting the curtain flapping around during this move. Secondly. have your female assistants lead them behind the platform. increase the odds in your favor. Choose wisely! Watch them all as they come up onto the stage. such as bulldog clips. Is one of them heavier than the rest? Is one slower than the others? Again. Vanishing seven audience members Let me start by saying that this will not be quite as spectacular as the vanish of seven girls. Then have the lucky seven mount the platform. Equally as telling. Firstly. but you do want seven people who can cross the escape arm and run around to the back of the auditorium. The main reason for this is that they are not going to move as quickly as the girls. You may need to do some fine adjustment to the exact positioning of these during rehearsal. Stand at the side of the step and offer your hand to assist the ladies (there is always room for chivalry…). So you have to set parameters before you throw the beach balls (or whatever) into the audience. So.

(If your helper sprints off with the first person. but if you want to add a little security to the routine. Once they have all arrived. On the back side of the curtain should be written “Please play along – pretend not to see anything!”. just a “bunch”. Your helpers backstage should help the people off the second platform. or even just move away from the group and stand elsewhere. Here’s an alternative method that will work if your stage has wings and there are steps at one or both ends. Alternatively. They should start walking as the first person is off the platform. you may want to consider having a stooge stand in as one of the audience members. Here are two ways to set it up… Have your stooge waiting at the back of the auditorium holding a beach ball. they will be well hidden behind the platform and any reaction on their faces won’t be seen. What if you get a group of people who aren’t confident about crossing the escape arm? What if they all stand there and freeze like frightened rabbits? Unlikely. On the inside of the front part of the curtain (the part they will all be facing) is written “TURN AROUND”. As they come up to the stage. they may speed up with each successive person. Instead of throwing nine beach balls out. you throw eight. Have the audience members gather in a group by the wings while you thank the various people on your list (remember I discussed that before?). increasing it to a run once all seven are off. the audience won’t even notice the addition from the back.-26- Now here’s where the trickery kicks in. Even a quick finger on the lips as in “Shh!” and a wink may be enough. They will see the escape arm being put into place. You need to have someone peer through the rear stage curtain and encourage them to cross the arm. instruct them to leave the beach balls at the side of the stage (or some other convenient location). there is a risk of leaving someone behind!). have your audience members line up in front of the platform for . Once you have done that. your female assistants could just turn to the witnesses and impart this information themselves. If this is timed just right. Stagehand #1 can also assist (saying something like. Your two witnesses will get the message. “Come on – it’s safe!” will help). Whatever the case. your stooge should simply walk down the center aisle. Hopefully they will. out of view of the audience (maybe in the sound booth or the lobby). as with the girls. Do not expect them to sprint across the arm. As the first few people get up. Have your stooge waiting in the wings at the side of the stage where the audience members will come up. your helper should leave. carrying the beach ball and join the back of the line. Don’t tell the audience you are looking for any specific number of people. but if your female assistants do their “Go! Go! Go!” bit. One of your backstage helpers will need to lead the group around to the reappearance location.

However. In fact. You could even ask them their names as they take their place. I am really referring to a version that uses minimal props with virtually no set up. there is a reason you want your stooge at the back of the line. it’s totally safe!” before he crosses – it will install some confidence in the others. you’ re on to a winner. Once the curtain comes down you need to know that there is at least one responsible person on that platform! Impromptu vanish (3 girls) Well. Have the first three audience members mount the platform and stand on the left half. Given that this routine will take a little longer than the original (for reasons I outlined earlier). who is at least as old as the oldest kids in the audience. the vanish of seven kids is always a crowd pleaser. As they make their way from the side of the stage. when I say “impromptu”. .-27- you to choose your witnesses. As I said earlier. Don’t make it obvious that’s how you are dividing them. your stooge can just join the back of the line. This is no problem. otherwise it will be muffled. this version is ideal for an occasion where you need an inexpensive illusion at short notice that plays big. your group will probably contain men. or how long it will take the group to run around to the rear of the auditorium. you absolutely have to use a kid stooge. I can’t think of what kind of situation in which you would find yourself whereby someone would say. he should be the first to cross the escape arm. Make sure they call through the gap in the rear stage curtain. without the worry of having to fit your performance to specifically-timed music. So your helpers backstage will also have to join in. you should not use music edited to a specific timing. Now your stooge is in the middle. Which ever method you use (and you may have a better one in mind!). This will keep the energy going. just as in the original version. Reflecting on something I mentioned before: if you have an audience full of kids. you will not really be able to predict how long the vanish will take. Find a kid who you can trust. Your female assistants can shout their “Yes!” from where they are. just show them where to stand. However. Then there’s the little matter of the group calling from behind the curtain at the last second. starting when you are ready to lower the curtain. “Here’s a seven-member dance troupe – do a trick with them”. However. The second three should stand on the right. Your stooge should stand in the center. “Come on guys. Your stooge will be able to lead the way to the appearance location. It would help for him to say. A repetitive club-style track would work well.

but in front of a doorway would also work. then you should be good to go. They are brought up to the performing area by your female assistant (F).you are ready to go! You have two audience members selected at random as witnesses (W). Or possibly in front of some large objects that the girls could run between and then behind. Take two of them and. Lower it to the ground and make sure the sign is concealed in the folds. You. you can do this as a substitute for the signs). (If you are able to prepare them at the back as in the original. Every venue will be different. you need to join two pairs of bed sheets. she stands in the center about 3ft behind the rear sheet with the witnesses positioned about 4ft either side of her. Do the same with the other pair. Stretch out the sheet with the signs attached to form a wall about 1ft behind the chairs (long edges parallel to the ground and signs facing the back). and you’ll have to use a little imagination and some common sense when deciding where to stage this. using the safety pins. the magician. Don’t forget to check your sightlines! As long as they can escape out through the back without being seen. join two short ends together. A stage with a rear curtain would be ideal. Stretch out the other sheet in the same way in front of the chairs. Attach them with safety pins to one of the pairs of bed sheets as shown… You need to perform this somewhere where the girls can leave out the back.-28- For this you will need the following… • • • • • • • Four bed sheets Three girls Three chairs Safety pins Paper and a marker pen Two stagehands One female assistant (height should be less than width of bed sheet) To prepare for this routine. with enough room between to allow the girls through (one at a time). explain that the . “Please play along – pretend not to see anything!” (sound familiar?). leaving about 2ft between chair and sheets. Set up the three chairs in a row. That’s it . Make two paper signs that say.

your female assistant steps forward. then quickly exits through the back and releases the rear sheet. if you wish. concealing the witnesses. Immediately. The onstage assistants lower the rear sheet to the ground. She stands between the two chairs on her right and turns to face the left. You give a little wave to the girls. The wave should not be rushed . the girls stand up (be sure that their heads are not seen above the front sheet) and make their way between the chairs to escape out the back. but they hold the ends of the front sheet down by their sides so the girls can still be seen. Your assistants raise the front sheet. She only does this briefly. your female assistant enters through the rear sheet. they wave back. you do not have to have a high- . You ask the girls (through the sheet). Note: all this happens at the same time. • With her right foot she reaches back behind her and taps the sheet (as if it is the girl on the right . Your female assistant now has to do two things simultaneously… • With her right hand she waves over the top of the front sheet (as if it is the center girl). Your two stagehands (S) take their positions between the ends of the sheets. given the casual nature of the illusion. They lift the rear sheet to full height. The girls can run around to the back of the audience and reappear. “Are you comfortable?”. the audience’s left). one in each still want to give the impression the girls are relaxed in the chairs. Your three girls take their seats. You will need music playing during the routine to cover the sound of people moving behind the curtain. You whip away the front sheet as soon as you can without exposing the assistant’s exit. At the same time.-29- witnesses are there to guard the illusion from behind. They reach down and pick up the ends. She should stand slightly to the side to allow them to pass. As soon as the girls are out.that is. Have them sit in identical poses with legs crossed. as soon as the front sheet is raised. However. Tell the witnesses to keep an eye on the back of the illusion. With her left hand she continues to hold up the center of the rear sheet. They should look comfortable and relaxed. Tell your female assistant to keep an eye on the witnesses (to “make sure they don’t cause trouble!”). grabs the bottom edge of the rear sheet at the center and raises it up just enough for the girls to run through.

your performance style should be fairly casual. “I can’t believe how fast they got back there!” Speed (or at least. If you are a beginner. Unauthorized copying or distribution is illegal and deprives the author of his livelihood! . The all-black look with shades and laser beams will just look silly. your girls will run from the platform to the back of the auditorium just as quickly as anyone else could (well.I’ll reply when I can! Good luck. If you can sell this to the audience. the faster you can perform this.-30- impact soundtrack or song. one of the most frequent comments that came my way from audience members was. Something lively and fun will compliment the performance perfectly. though – if you try too hard to point out how difficult it would be to leave through the . If you are a professional. I hope that this has taken you a little further into the world of illusion and shown you that “big stage magic” doesn’t always have to cost a fortune. Similarly. for crying out loud! So make this fun and the audience will enjoy it with you. the illusion of speed) is the factor that gives this routine its impact. the better! The witnesses add an extra level to this illusion. I hope that this eBook has been valuable to you. but PLEASE BE SAFE! There is no substitute for testing your props and testing them again. anyone else in the same physical condition). your audience will start to think too much in that direction. you are giving the impression that the girls are still on the platform seconds before you remove the curtain. their perception of time will be vastly distorted. I hope that you can take the ideas contained herein and run with them. I’d love to hear them. Don’t overplay this fact. You may contact me at julian@julianbondmusic. It will sound out of place. If a magician spends 20 minutes trying to prove to you that the box is empty…you know that the box is not empty! Please have fun performing this illusion. However. Really. If you have any questions or suggestions. Do not take any unnecessary risks just to shave a second or two off the vanish. Make sure your audience knows what they are doing behind the platform and point out the fact that the illusion is being watched from every side. Concluding thoughts When I first performed this illusion in July 2006. despite their exit some time before that. Julian Bond © 2006 Julian Bond. You are using bed sheets. Needless to say.