Penne and Teller’s course is one of the shortest sessions in Masterclass but requires the most time. The play and pause buttons are on repeat because I like rehearsing the magic techniques.
The duo creates 2 workshops for students. In the first group, I learn the magic terms and choreography of the act with beginners. This group is fun for me because the students are performers who have a background in showmanship like me. In the second group, I get to witness the duo (and the late Johnny Thompson) give comments and suggestions to professional magicians who like to make stronger and clearer choices in their acts.
I think that they are confident in revealing the secrets of magicians for two reasons: (1) They want anyone interested in magic to have a deeper appreciation of the art when they see a show; (2) The confidence also comes from their willingness to incorporate technology in their acts which gives them new possibilities and new approaches.
The actual footages of their performances are also great transitions. My jaw is so tired from all those jaw-dropping acts.
What sticks with me is how they emphasize (quite passionately) the ethics of magic and embrace these as their mission statement.
I take down notes during Steve Martin’s course but the Workbook that comes with this course is also fantastic!
I’m interested in Martin’s creative process. He eloquently describes it as something that you have to think about all the time even if you are doing mundane things. Martin teaches this in an actual workshop with emerging comedians. Lovely to see works in progress.
Martin is a polymath and he encourages everyone to be one too. He says that achieving this will help you expand your artistic vocabulary. You have to watch the course to know what a refrigerator laugh is.
The banjo playing throughout the course presents Martin’s brand in every lesson. Awesome touch.
If you are also doing dramaturgical work, this is your gold mine.
If you love Bart Simpson or animation, I suggest that you enroll in Nancy Cartwright’s course. This has been the most helpful and enjoyable class for me. Cartwright talks about her voice actor background, vocal kit, and voice acting choices. She paints a picture of the rehearsal and the network of people she works with in creating unique characters. She then proceeds to a lecture-demonstration, going through the script and building a character with you. There is a fabulous story here about Cartwright replacing Christine Cavanaugh in Rugrats. Lastly, she highlights the importance of having mentors and a circle of friends who will give you feedback on your work.
If you are creating a digital course pack for your class, this is a great template (from setting up your recording space to using your voice for change). The visuals are amazing! Cartwright and her animated version are lovely!