Book Review Of “XYA” By Chris Dugdale
Last year when I had the opportunity to interview Chris Dugdale, I became more aware of his work and many talents as not only a magician but an author, creator and motivational speaker. Many are aware of Chris due to appearances on TV such as Penn & Teller: Fool Us. While famed for his TV and theatre work as a performer, he is also an accomplished businessman. This gives Chris a unique perspective and edge when writing as an author of a publication for those interested in performing magic. His latest book “XYA” is a limited run with just 250 copies that were published to buy. A book that combines revealing the secrets of 25 amazing routines/effects, along with essays that impart Chris’ knowledge of relevant subject matter. Magical routines, best business practice, secrets, money making examples and stories. The book is therefore best described as a hybrid of essays (providing advice) and many effects, which are documented in great detail. A lot of excellent business advice is packed into the pages that is useful in many aspects of life, which includes negotiating, presentation skills, knowing your value in the market and even conducting training. The information contained can only enhance your performance as an artist. The book's journey includes effects focusing on card magic, mentalism, coins and even a chop cup routine. The book often provides different variations to perform the effects in a number of ways. Each effect has a clear description, the method, supporting pictures/illustrations and access to a unique video portal. Regardless of your experience or skill level, you will find all the content useful and you can use as much or little of this knowledge as you require on your own personal journey. As so much material is covered, the book often provides advice and suggestions, allowing the reader to then take on board what is useful to them and take responsibility for their own learning. Chris states that the book “is designed for people who perform magic for real people”; inspiring readers to achieve their goals, make money and encourage thoughts that will touch the reader in ways that you don’t expect.
The book encourages you to be yourself and realise that you are your greatest asset. Be unique, be yourself and find your own style. It's about you and what you bring to the table. If not, you end up like everyone else. Be original. "If you are doing the same material as everyone else, which we all do to a degree then make it yours. Try and own it. Put your own unique stamp on it from a presentational and personality driven perspective." The book is a striking soft-back and roughly A4 in size with over 250 pages. When first picking up and browsing the pages, the presentation of the chapters are a handy sized readable font. Useful for when you are following instruction and practising any routine/effect from the book, which is supported with many photos acting to illustrate the effects and support essays. Enhancing the chapters of the book, Chris supports the reader by providing a special link to videos that enhance your learning within an online portal. An excellent idea that recognises different learning styles that blends learning through use of online instruction and of course the book itself. The video content includes instruction and performance. The portal on its own is an important tool and helped immensely with my understanding and instruction of effects. Under normal circumstance, the portal would be impressive in its own right but more so in this instance. Its purpose is to serve as a support tool to the reader while they work through the book content. It also helps manage the secrecy of the knowledge imparted in the book, requiring password access to the site to complete the picture. Humour regularly features within the chapters with Chris being honest in his views while sharing his journey. Stories of him buying alcohol early in the day for his Edinburgh Fringe performances (for the act) and running around hotels in his boxer shorts after a New York UN meeting! With so much content to absorb, it was a hard task choosing which stories, essays and effects to highlight. An unbelievable amount of information is contained in the book while respecting the secrecy of the knowledge imparted by Chris. The effects that particularly stood out for me were the book test, a card in a bottle routine and the effect that Chris performed for Richard Branson called - Hallucination. For any fans of mentalism, the book test is extremely detailed. It is truly amazing. A good example that when reading, it highlights the detail and trouble that Chris goes to, writing methods to support this book. Every effect has many detailed black and white photos to support your understanding and ability to recreate the routines. If you are particularly into card magic, many of the routines are card based and packed with performance advice. I also particularly found the additional articles and essays of value. With content so varied, it would be impossible not to learn from Chris’ experiences and knowledge. The “Little Big Things” chapter talks you through much valuable performance advice. Checklists, prop handling, vocals, drama and performing in a manner that suits your style, retaining your uniqueness. Planting seeds that give you plenty to think about. Meanwhile, the "My Black Hat Sales Techniques" pages list the golden rules that Chris applies to his business dealings to attract new sales opportunities. Good business practice that can be applied to many walks of life. "The bookings for close up magic occur after the performance has finished. I always use this motto - as the performance ends, the sales begin! You will make your future bookings happen by talking with people at the end of the show, in the bar for example. Become as good at talking with people and socialising as performing..." I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I am confident that I will be picking up “XYA” frequently for reference and attempting some of the routines. I am already working on some of the principals detailed within the book test. An exclusive magic book that will be most collectable. All editions signed and the edition numbered by Chris. A must have read that I can highly recommend. While purchasing the book does unlock the secrets contained within which you are encouraged to learn, Chris understandably retains performance rights and requests permission is requested prior to any filmed or TV performances. "Magic is the art of entertaining by the performance of feats that appear to be contrary to natural law in a manner which is unique and congruent to YOU. Like me, you will probably try going through all the tricks and books and then come to the conclusion that the most valuable weapon in your armoury is the thing you first started with... you! The progression appears to be XY....A! Welcome to XYA" To find out more about the book or to purchase, visit XYA Book Chris Dugdale website