Like classic stage illusions, this bowling ball magic trick has three parts. "The pledge" shows the audience something ordinary, an "empty" box. In "the turn," the magician makes the box do something extraordinary; it produce a silk scarf. The big finale is called "the prestige." The audience looks on in amazement as the box yields up a bowling ball.
The production box -- or flip box -- is an indispensable item in every magician's tool kit. It is a carefully crafted box with an overlapping hinged top and bottom. Nested under its lid is a second box and lid that are hidden from view. When deftly handled by a magician, the props he conceals in the box before the show are never glimpsed by the audience before it is time for their astounding appearance.
Place the bowling ball in the load box of the production box lid before entering the stage. Place the production box on the table before the show starts.
Raise the curtain or walk on stage. Speak to the audience and do some warm-up tricks.
Approach the production box, gesture at it with your hand and say, "Here we have an ordinary box."
Grab the box by the handle and lift it up from the table. The lids are hinged at opposite corners so that as they open they will turn the box on its side accordion fashion. The audience now has a clear view through the box from the open top to the open bottom. Place the handle facing the audience so that the load box faces away from them.
Close the box by bringing the bottom upward. Closing the bottom first hides the load box when the top is closed. Close the top. Turn the box upright on the table. Accomplish the parts of the box-closing procedures in one fluid motion.
Tap the box with your wand and say, "Scarpho Presto!" Open the top and reach into the box. Release the load restraint, grab the scarf, and then pull it out with a flourish. Toss the scarf with a grand gesture. Close the box.
Tap the box with your wand and say, "Ballbolus Productus!" Pick up the box, walk toward the audience and release the bottom. It will fall open and drop the bowling ball, which will hit the floor with a resounding thud. As the ball falls, allow the box to reopen and bow dramatically to the audience. Time the bow to coincide with the bowling ball thump.
Things You'll Need
- A production box, at least 10 inches in all dimensions
- Small table, covered with black cloth
- Silk scarf
- Bowling ball, 7-pound maximum weight
A typical bowling ball is 8.5 inches in diameter. A larger production box with a good overlap helps hide the load box from the orchestra and wing seats. Three ducks can be substituted for the bowling ball. The wand is for misdirection. Point one way with it, while unlatching the bottom of the box with the other hand. The bottom is hinged on the side that faces the audience and it falls down when the box is displayed as empty. The top is hinged on the side away from the audience with the handle side towards them.
Practice your ball release so that you do not bowl over anyone in row 1.
- Mastering Magic -100 Secrets of the Great Magicians; Walter B. Gibson
- Magic - Scientific Diversions and Stage Illusions; Albert A. Hopkins, et al.
- Magic and Conjuring; Walter Gibson
- Every Magic Secret in the World Revealed; Marc Lemezma
- Magic Tricks; Tom Ogden
- Woodworkers Workshop: Production Magic Box Woodworking Plan
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images