Monday, March 29, 2010

Convergent Evolution

The world is a funny place.

I've mentioned my interest in "bizarre" magic and it's potential for use in live action games before. Both styles of performance place an emphasis on storytelling and immersiveness as a means to involve the audience, and an argument can be made that the very best bizarre magic routines are effectively LARPs with the audience serving as willing participants in the evolving story. Conversely, many of the best horror LARPs differ from a magic routine only in the lack of any obvious illusions.

Given that overlap I'm surprised there aren't more hybrid performances incorporating aspects of both. The closest thing I've seen are private seance shows with a medium or magician, depending on the woo woo factor, performing for a small room full of spectators. The standard template features an overarching storyline about a haunted object or the location where the party is being held, with a variety of mentalism routines involving the audience interspersed between plot revelations. When it's done well this kind of show is amazing. I've never not been entertained, and one in particular was the only time I've seen a performer move an audience to tears.

With my interest in that style of magic, and obvious preoccupation with Lovecraft, imagine my surprise when I learned a theatrical-style performance mixing the two has been available for over a decade. I was even more shocked to find out it isn't just a Mythos-influenced routine, but an entire show based on "At the Mountains of Madness". The icing on the cake? The fact that I've been supplying props for those performances without knowing about it.

The only reason I know about it now is because a magician Googled "At the Mountains of Madness" and "props", stumbled across my recreation of the Dyer materials, and thought it was a prop set specifically designed for the show. After exchanging a few emails I learned that my expedition props, both the physical ones like the patches and pins and the downloadable paper props, have been incorporated into the routine by quite a few magicians. Which isn't surprising when you read the list of recommended props from the show's creator- it's almost identical to what I've assembled for my own collection. Through two different thought processes, and a time span of over ten years, we both converged on a nearly identical final product.

I don't want to say too much more, since the people reading this are the ones that would enjoy the "At the Mountains of Madness" show the most and I don't want to spoil it. That said, I would suggest seeing it if you're a Lovecraft fan. If the performers contact me I'll post the details of any upcoming shows.

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