Using Light to add Punctuation

While in Arizona last week I visited Organ Stop Pizza and I wrote a little bit about it yesterday. Today I’m writing about something else that I noticed with performance. In many of the songs the organist played, there was lighting changes:

The room was normally dark, and when he got towards ends of song and it had a big ending, he would lighten up the room for the finale, then darken it at the end. While these songs were songs that had more exciting endings, the lighting change end really signaled the crowd to clap and cheer louder.

This is a technique used in many theater shows, sometimes ending the trick with a blackout. I’m sure there’s a name for it in theater terms, I just don’t know it. However it’s a way to signal the end of a trick or routine that may have less off a definite and hard punctuation at the end.

The organist used the lighting very deliberately and very effectively. Personally I’m a pretty basic lighting guy, and that’s probably because I came out of stand up comedy rooms, and not theaters. However it’s something I would like to explore more.


Suspension of Disbelief…

When I was in Arizona last week I went to Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, AZ. This is pizza place that has a guy play a giant Wurlitzer organ.

One the the things that I found interesting was the people around me commented about all of the songs he knows. He takes requests and they are pretty varied in genre. What the people didn’t notice was that he had device to his left just out of view that he was using for the songs he didn’t already know.

This is an interesting suspension of disbelief, which is different from when you see Peter Pan and ignore the wires that make him fly. This a suspension of disbelief closer to doing magic. The audience wanted him to have a huge catalog of music in his head, so that’s what they believed, despite all of his typing.

In magic you want the audience to believe you can do the trick…not necessarily by “magic” but you can do the trick successfully. Once you convivence them that you can you can take a lot of risks and they will unconsciously suspend disbelief and be onboard with things.

Juan Tamariz talks about this in The Magic Rainbow. Basically he says that once they audience is onboard with him, he can do things that would be easily explained. He does them after he’s proven himself, and the audience suspends disbelief that he’s simply using a trick prop.

I was watching the organist arrange his set list of requests. He has a couple of songs he knows, then plays a one he doesn’t know, then a medley of 3-5 songs and I think one or two of these he doesn’t know well, but can bookend with known songs and finally he plays a couple songs he knows well. It’s a great plan, it’s also the Juan Tamariz formula.