Framing Performance Magic: The Role of Contract, Discourse and Effect


A wide continuum of genres in performance magic has developed since the Victorian period, including stage magic, street magic, close-up magic, comedy magic, mentalism, bizarre and mystery entertainment. Each of these genres frames its performance on a different contract between the performer and the audience, the discourse used during performance and the effect on the audience both in terms of its perception of what has transpired and the personal meaning attached to the effect. This article examines this interplay between contract, discourse and effect in theory and practice. The article constructs a typology of performance magic which is then explored through an examination of audience perception and feedback from a drama workshop and focus group conducted at the University of Huddersfield in October 2012. The group experienced three performances framed around the idea of the magician, the mentalist, and the mystic, and the ensuing discussion revealed a wide range of insights into these different framings of performance. The reactions and ensuing discussions involved different understandings of trust, plausibility, explanation, authority, and dynamic interaction.

How to Cite

Landman T. (2013) “Framing Performance Magic: The Role of Contract, Discourse and Effect”, Journal of Performance Magic. 1(1). doi:








Todd Landman




Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

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