Author Topic: PROPS: The Seafarer- SM trying to figure out some card tricks  (Read 4337 times)

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StageManagerV

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Hello there denizens of the SMNetwork,


I'm an Equity PSM working on a production of Conor McPherson's "The Seafarer" at a theater in St. Petersburg, FL.

For anyone who has worked on this show or read it, you'd know that there is a complicated poker situation that ends the play, in which a deck of cards that is supposed to be shuffled flashily in view of the audience is supposed to deal three very specific hands of cards to characters. All three hands of cards must be visible to the audience at the end of the poker game. One is four eights, one is four aces, and the other is four tens.

I was wondering if anyone had any advice on how to do this effect. Do you hide a stacked deck that the actor who shuffles trades out the shuffled deck for? Or do you hide the specific hands of cards on those three actors  somehow?  They have to be dealt a single card each during the action of the card game, which leads me to believe the deck should be stacked. But that just feels stressful, and an entire deck of cards is hard to palm away and trade out, yeah?... I don't know!

Any thoughts, friends? I always get such great responses from the community here whenever I have an issue with a stage gag.

Thanks all, we open in two weeks so any help you can toss my way would be appreciated.

Talk to you all soon,
~Victoria

Edited subject line-Rebbe
« Last Edit: Jul 21, 2010, 10:29 am by Rebbe »
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women in it merely players."
As You Like It, II.iv.137, Wm. Shakespeare

maximillionx

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Re: The Seafarer- SM trying to figure out some card tricks
« Reply #1 on: Jul 03, 2010, 02:22 pm »
Are the actors wearing long sleeves? I would just deal 5 cards as normal and have the actors switch those 5 cards them mid-card game. Then there's no complicated deck stacking or hiding an entire deck.

EFMcMullen

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Re: The Seafarer- SM trying to figure out some card tricks
« Reply #2 on: Jul 03, 2010, 03:05 pm »
When I did it we added those pre-sorted hands to the top of the deck after it was shuffled.  Lockhart had those cards preset in his pocket from the top of the act.  He shuffled the deck, and then while we are focused on Sharky, Richard and Nicky he palmed the false top onto the deck. 

loebtmc

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Re: The Seafarer- SM trying to figure out some card tricks
« Reply #3 on: Jul 03, 2010, 06:57 pm »
in addition to presetting/prepping as noted (which is great), you might want to talk to a magician - they prep stuff like this all the time and usually are quite helpful with stuff like this


MatthewShiner

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Re: The Seafarer- SM trying to figure out some card tricks
« Reply #4 on: Jul 03, 2010, 07:10 pm »
I second the magician.  A small amount of money for a little consult could come up with three or four options that will work for you.
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chrrl

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Re: The Seafarer- SM trying to figure out some card tricks
« Reply #5 on: Jul 06, 2010, 02:46 pm »
We did this last year and the director was insistent about accuracy of the cards and the money -- My ASM did a lot of prep work figuring out how to stack each deck, and also distribute money based on their betting each round.  We had card pockets built into the upstage side of the table for some slight of hand when attention was focused on the other side of the stage.   It was difficult to find a way to smoothly switch the final deck and we ended up just not using a stacked deck for that one.   We have a proscenium house and were able to get away with it.  Having the correct hands in rehearsals helped the actors a lot, though, and I think it would have been difficult to learn the poker lines without the stacked decks.

I'd also recommend daily line-throughs of the poker games.  We did this before every performance because the betting gets confusing and their cue lines are so similar.

StageManagerV

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Re: The Seafarer- SM trying to figure out some card tricks
« Reply #6 on: Jul 07, 2010, 11:43 am »
Hey everyone,

Thank you so much for the responses on this! I am going to look into the magician thing.

We've got a pretty small house and I think that the audience will see if we don't have the right hands, so we've got to get it right somehow.

I am of the mind to put Sharky's and Lockhart's correct hands somewhere on their persons, and have them palm them into play or something. It seems like we can get away with that easier than having Lockhart add a stacked deck after he shuffles- there's only like two lines before he has Sharky tap the cut deck.

We can get away with hiding the 4 aces in the bathroom for Ivan, and that'll work for that hand.

Another question, folks: did you use cans of stout, and if so, how did you drain them out and replace them with non-alcoholic? Should we just get some cans of something else and cover over the labels?

Thanks all,
~V
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women in it merely players."
As You Like It, II.iv.137, Wm. Shakespeare

loebtmc

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Re: The Seafarer- SM trying to figure out some card tricks
« Reply #7 on: Jul 07, 2010, 12:22 pm »
one of the houses I work regularly has an amazing props master who covered cans of sparkling water or ginger ale, depending on whether it was poured/seen from house or not. Easy to build the label on a computer, I think she painted the cans black and glued the label onto them (we used newcastle beer as the model cuz the can is simple and easy)

break a leg!

StageManagerV

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Re: The Seafarer- SM trying to figure out some card tricks
« Reply #8 on: Jul 08, 2010, 12:42 pm »
Thanks!

I think what we've decided to do is open the cans and pour them out, replacing with water and have the actors open the cans upstage, so we can't see it.

Now we're working on the card issue in earnest.

We've tried putting a partially stacked deck on top, and we're not sure we can make it work- there is only really one line of text between when we are supposed to see Lockhart shuffling like a Vegas dealer, and then dealing the hands. So, how does he get that trick deck on in place of the one he just shuffled? We LOOOVE not having to switch out hands- the actors are concerned that if even one person in the audience sees the gag, it'll blow the whole thing- but we're just concerned about how to achieve it.

If we can't deal the correct hands then we have to do the trick hand thing. We can figure out ways for Sharky and Ivan to get their trick hands (4 Aces and 4 Eights) after being dealt, but we are struggling with Lockhart. He's seated with audience to his back and to his left, and so there aren't any angles we can have him palm out the dealt hand and pick up the trick hand.

We are exploring the possibility of using cards that have small text on them, or something, so that the audience won't necessarily be able to see what the cards are. I know, it's a bit of a cheat, but we feel like getting the scene right is more important than getting the game right.

Anybody, thoughts?

Thanks!
~V
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women in it merely players."
As You Like It, II.iv.137, Wm. Shakespeare

loebtmc

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Re: The Seafarer- SM trying to figure out some card tricks
« Reply #9 on: Jul 08, 2010, 02:45 pm »
again, a magician can solve all of this for you in a heartbeat - they do it all the time. This is a standard, basic magic trick.

I used to know several magicians in St Pete, but they have all moved away so I have no one to refer - but I recall several good magic shops, and certainly there are plenty of magic shows in the area (birthday parties and the like) - not sure why you are resistant to this, but it's so easy and eliminates reinventing the wheel and having someone who has already solved this (or something remarkably similar) give you an immediate answer.


tdsmith

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Re: The Seafarer- SM trying to figure out some card tricks
« Reply #10 on: Jul 08, 2010, 11:53 pm »
A quick search on YouTube turned up these little gems:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiokoNyk6R8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0uqVjgynBQ

There are plenty more examples out there, just search for "false shuffle" and "false cut".

By combining a bunch of them you could put together quite a flashy shuffle that preserves the entire deck order, just like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9lFe504i2s.

 

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