by Stephen Buehler
Story telling is storytelling and everyone loves a good story. It helps make life interesting. When you hear the word ‘story’ most people think of books or short stories- but all forms of entertainment should tell a story – from music to art to magic shows. That’s right, even a magic show.
Tonight (Sunday) I’m performing a magic show – which I haven’t done in years. Recently my interest in magic has resurfaced. I was invited to be part of a show to raise money for a playhouse.
I could have been one of those magicians that just do one trick after another and I would have done a good job with that. I know many tricks. But instead, to keep the audience interested I decided to tell a story within the show. It’s not a complicated story but I’m hoping it adds to the interest level of my performance.
Like any good story – first I created a character, Stefan the Great One! That’s my magician name from when I was a kid.
Like in a novel, I gave him a backstory – he comes from a long line of magicians – his father is Stefan the Mediocre and his grandfather is Stefan the So So. Stefan is full of himself – he’s okay as a magician but not as good as he likes to boast. He’s constantly referring to himself in the third person and when he mentions his name he delivers it with theatrical flair. He longs to be a magician like in the old days but those days have passed him by. He’s a bit of a braggart but he’s likeable because he makes you laugh.
The story of the show is – he promises that he’s going to present the GREATEST TRICK EVER. After performing each trick, he introduces the next trick as THE GREATEST TRICK EVER and if they didn’t like that one, he does another one. It builds the audience’s anticipation – they’re waiting for that big trick. It’s like getting readers to keep turning the pages. His tricks are good, he’s entertaining but he never does the greatest trick ever. Towards the end of his act he gives up his quest. He announces that the management wants a survey of his performance and instead of having the audience fill out questionnaires he’ll do it from the stage. He’s even written down what he hopes the audience thinks of him and has sealed the predictions in an envelope which are given to a spectator to hold. He has three truly random volunteers from the audience answer the survey questions. When Stefan the Great One’s! envelope is opened, his predictions match exactly the volunteers’ answers. It looks impossible. The survey has become the greatest trick ever. A good twist ending.
Stefan’s performance is like any good story. It has a hero. The hero has a quest and a goal. He meets obstacles along the way. It looks like he fails but with one last desperate try he is triumphant.
Story telling is story telling. We all crave it whether we know it or not. It deepens the experience.
Have you ever used storytelling in other works of art or your in life besides writing short stories or novels?
Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. His story, Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and was a Derringer Finalist. A Job’s a Job was published in Believe Me or Not –An Unreliable Anthology. His is seeking a home for his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician, psychics and of course, murder. He is also currently shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. By day he is also a script/story consultant, magician and a nice guy. www.stephenbuehler.com