The below activity is designed to respond or prepare students to see The Great Illusionist, however it can be completed as a standalone without seeing the show. It plays with form more than content and explores simple illusions and ways of presenting them. In the downloadable PDF we have included one way to build stories around these illusions but other play building exercises can be found in the notes for other shows on the Sydney Opera House teachers resources page
There are many websites which deal with fun magic tricks for young learners. Some are super simple and others more extensive requiring preparation and practice. This video is full of easy tricks to learn, some of which are highly theatrical. Get your class to watch these tricks. Split the groups into pairs and get them to pick one or two tricks.
They must at first learn the trick so that they can do the trick for each other, before they perform it for others. Tricks require practice and feedback which is why they need to work in pairs. They must both learn the trick.
Presenting the trick
A good presentation requires some theatricalisation of the routine. This can be the classic magician routine where they are over confident and full of pomp and ceremony, or it can be the bumbly clowns getting it all wrong. Or anything in between. In the Great illusionist Het Fillial, the performance company, weave their tricks into a narrative.
To practice the presentation ask students in their pairs to think of a name for their characters. Ask them to respond quickly and intuitively. This will give you lots of information as to whether their magicians are the over confident show biz type or leaning more towards the bumbly clowns.
A great way to start a presentation is to make an ‘entrance’. A good entrance sets the scenes and can be the funniest part of a routine.