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Guide to Examinations

Hints and tips on how to become a member of
The Magic Circle

1. INTRODUCTION

This sets out the procedures by which magicians can join The Magic Circle and current members can progress to higher degrees within the Society. Hopefully it will assist all those taking the necessary examinations.

You may also wish to read our GUIDELINES FOR MARKING.

2. DEGREES OF THE SOCIETY

The two degrees of the Society obtainable by examination are:

(a) Member of The Magic Circle, M.M.C.
(b) Associate of The Inner Magic Circle, A.I.M.C.

Advancement to Membership of The Inner Magic Circle, M.I.M.C. is only by call of the president in Council.

3. TYPES OF EXAMINATION

(a) Practical – Stage or Close-Up performance
(b) Theoretical – Written thesis

The Council strongly prefers that a magician shall seek promotion by practical examination although promotion may be awarded to those who have, by their writings and in the opinion of the Council, merited such advancement. Those passing a practical examination for A.I.M.C. will be awarded a Silver Star with that degree. Similarly a Gold Star will be added to the M.I.M.C. degree to indicate an appropriate level of performance skills.

4. RECOGNISED CENTRES FOR EXAMINATION

(a) The Magic Circle headquarters: Special arrangements are regularly made for examinations for both stage and close-up at our headquarters, where ideal conditions exist, before an audience of members. Whenever possible it is recommended that candidates be examined during our club night evenings, usually Monday, by arrangement with the examinations secretary. Close-up examinations are normally held in the Devant Room. If any sound equipment is required this must be provided by the candidate and must have a valid Portable Appliance Test (PAT) certificate. In the theatre, where stage examinations are held, full facilities are available. For Health and Safety reasons we have very strict guidelines regarding the use of fire anywhere in the building including on stage. If your act includes any fire, even the use of a small quantity of flash paper, you must discuss this with the examinations secretary at least a week before the day of your examination.

(b) Shows, competitions and social functions of The Magic Circle: Performers participating in Society occasions of this nature may, at the discretion of the events or club night committees, apply to the examinations secretary who will arrange for examiners to attend if at all possible.

(c) Videos/DVDs: Candidates who are unable to attend an examination at our headquarters may submit an unedited video or DVD recording of their act, performed before a live audience, for consideration by the examiners. In particular children’s entertainers may want to take up this option since it is impractical to provide a suitable audience at our headquarters. However such recordings should include examples of magical technique at the appropriate level whatever the target audience.

(d) Provincial centres: Providing it is possible to arrange for duly authorised examiners to be available, examinations may be held at certain provincial centres.

Candidates will be required to comply with the following conditions:

(i) At least 28 days’ notice must be given in writing to the examinations secretary.
(ii) A suitable venue for the examination must be arranged by the candidate.
(iii) The examinations secretary must be notified of the date and time of the performance and the venue.
(iv) The candidate is responsible for ensuring that facilities are available for examiners to attend the performance.

NOTE: The Magic Circle will not accept liability for any expenses incurred by the candidate.

(e) Overseas centres: Overseas candidates wishing to be examined should contact the examinations secretary who will endeavour to make the necessary arrangements with duly authorised examiners or, alternatively, will accept a video/DVD recording for their consideration.

(f) Under the present Covid restriction examination are being conducted via Zoom. For more information please contact the examinations secretary.

5. APPLICATION FOR EXAMINATION

Candidates applying for membership of The Magic Circle will be contacted by the examinations secretary to arrange an interview at which an examination date will be agreed if appropriate. Candidates for A.I.M.C. are requested to contact the examinations secretary.

6. EXAMINATION FEES

The fee for the M.M.C. examination is included in the entrance fee. No fee is charged for an A.I.M.C. examination. Candidates should contact the examination secretary to arrange a date.

7. EXAMINATIONS

PRACTICAL -Stage or Close-up performances

(a) Marking
Three members of the board of examiners will judge a practical performance and the candidate will be examined for magical ability and technique, presentation and personality, entertainment value, patter, structure of performance, originality and appearance as appropriate. The exact breakdown of the marking varies between M.M.C. and A.I.M.C. examinations and will be given to candidates by the examinations secretary.

(b) Duration of the act
The length of performance should not be less than 8 minutes and should not exceed 12 minutes. A well-rehearsed act would run to time, so candiadates may wish to aim for 10 –11 minutes. To further assist the candidate, a bell will ring after 10 minutes, indicating that they have two minutes remaining. Candidates will now be stopped if their act runs over the maximum time allowed of 12 minutes. For advice, and more details, regarding practical examinations please see Appendix I.

THEORETICAL – Written Thesis

In the event of the Council agreeing that a candidate shall be examined in theory, a candidate must submit a magical subject for approval. The candidate must then submit, within 6 months, a thesis of a minimum of 4,000 words. An appropriate examiner(s) will report upon the thesis and the joint agreement of the examiner(s) and the examinations secretary will be necessary for the Council to consider whether the standard of the thesis qualifies the candidate to be passed to M.M.C. or A.I.M.C.

8. RESULTS

Candidates will be notified of the results of the examination by the examinations secretary after the examiners’ reports have been considered by the Council. Successful candidates will be sent the appropriate badges for the M.M.C. and A.I.M.C. degrees. Jewels, etc. may be purchased from the The Magic Circle. Upon promotion to the degree of M.I.M.C. members will automatically receive the appropriate badge and jewel.

All communications relating to examinations, including requests for advice or practical help, should be directed to the examinations secretary by email to examsec@TheMagicCircle.co.uk or by letter to: The examinations secretary, The Magic Circle, 12 Stephenson Way, London, NW1 2HD.

A stamped (or International Postal Coupon) and addressed envelope should be included for a postal reply.

APPENDIX I – GUIDELINES FOR PRACTICAL EXAMINATIONS

1. INTRODUCTION

The following notes are to give you an idea of what the examiners are looking for and to guide you towards the preparation of your performance.

2. MAGICAL ABILITY AND TECHNIQUE

(a) Technique

In order to gain marks in this section it is not necessary to attempt difficult sleights, although it is essential that you have something beyond self-working tricks. It is advisable to include moves, which can be performed with confidence and certainty, as you should make some allowance for the inevitable nerves, which play a part in any performance. A flowing programme, which indicates that practice has enabled you to present movements well within your ability, is far more pleasing than advanced sleight of hand clumsily executed.

(b) Handling

Careful routining and thought will enable props to be used and disposed of smoothly. Know where everything is and exactly what you will do with it after use. Avoid having to search pockets or a cluttered table for props but rehearse the handling so they can be displayed cleanly and confidently without more movements than are necessary and natural.

(c) General ability in magic

The examiners will expect to see that you have prepared your performance with some thought to putting together an entertaining sequence of effects. A flowing routine should be the aim using items well within your capabilities, performed with confidence, allowing you to concentrate on the presentation. If you are not happy during your rehearsals with any item, change it for something you enjoy doing. Always search for ways of simplifying any moves which feel unnatural or clumsy in performance.

3. PRESENTATION AND PERSONALITY -ENTERTAINMENT VALUE AND PATTER

Very few candidates have failed their M.M.C. examination due to their lack of magical ability – but there are two major headings under which the vast majority of weaknesses occur… presentation and patter.

(a) The ‘patter’ act is when the effects are accompanied by talk. The tricks can be a mixture of general magic or specialising in one area – mentalism for example. Whatever your own views, racist, sexist and crude jokes or comments are not welcome at The Magic Circle. If in doubt – leave it out.

The main thing is to be natural, be yourself. Beware of trying to be a comedian for, unless this particularly suits you, it is a difficult path to tread. Your patter must be planned and polished to perfection. Polished patter will help to prevent ‘dead’ pauses and repetitive words and phrases. However avoid giving the impression that you are delivering a carefully written script which may sound false. Keep your patter mature – avoid story lines, which are obviously contrived and childish.

Ensure that your lines are delivered to the audience so that you can be heard by all. Most of the people in your audience are more attractive than your table-top (even at The Magic Circle!). Please look at them and NOT the table. Eye contact is vital.

If you use a stand microphone be sure that its use is rehearsed along with the tricks so that you do not have to keep moving away from it during your patter.

(b) The ‘silent’ act is when magic is performed without patter, normally to musical accompaniment.

The silent act may be easier to rehearse alone but obviously a higher standard of technical ability and smooth routining is necessary. Recorded music must be carefully chosen and prepared, put together to blend in with the effects and timed to fit the act. At our headquarters facilities are available for playing a variety of recorded media.

Personality is an abstract quality possessed to a greater or lesser extent by us all. As a magician your aim is to entertain people while apparently performing feats which are impossible to explain. It is therefore essential that you avoid the ‘look how clever I am’ approach and develop that greatest of all attributes for any performer – warmth, avoiding any suggestion of arrogance and thus enabling the audience to like you as a person.

4. STRUCTURE OF PERFORMANCE

Examinees should look at their performance and consider engaging the audience right from the start, taking them on an entertaining journey with a powerful end.

5. ORIGINALITY

Examiners are looking for some originality, particularly in examinations for A.I.M.C., in either presentation or effect, or both.

6. APPEARANCE

Depending upon the style of your performance, suitable dress can take various forms but you must show that you have gone to some trouble in this regard. As a general rule you should try to be smarter and better dressed than the audience and some may consider that formal evening wear is invariably appropriate. The props used in your act, like your attire, should be immaculate. Your appearance will inevitably play a large part in the audience’s assessment ofyour personality.

7. EFFECTS

Do not feel obliged to perform difficult tricks because your audience will consist of fellow magicians. It makes sense to work within your abilities. Sleight-of-hand can be self-satisfying but it’s merely a tool – a means to an end.

Your audience makes a judgement about you within the first fifteen seconds – so make sure your ‘opener’ is speedy, visual and magical and perform it with confidence and a smile. You must be at ease during those all-important fifteen seconds – a good, trouble-free, self-working trick could make sense.

However, an act consisting entirely of a succession of standard self-working dealer tricks is unlikely to earn you sufficient marks. Give yourself a challenge and make yourself an expert performer of one of the magical classics – ‘The Cups and Balls’, for example. Read everything you can, seek expert help and keep working on the trick until you have mastered it.

8. FINAL TIPS AND HINTS

During rehearsals film yourself to highlight any weak spots in your performance. Be self-critical. The biggest room in the house is the room for improvement.