Transgressive Magic

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I know it’s been well over a year since my last blog post but believe you me, it’s been a very busy time.

Recently I have been working on an exciting project on one of my passions, Erdnase and The Expert at the Card Table. Magicana is producing with the Luminato Festival, Card Table Artifice. What is that? Hard to sum up in a few words but I think I managed in this video clip. It involves the collaboration of several artist, including composer Gavin Bryars and we are thrilled to have the opportunity of presenting the World Premier on June 13 and 14 in Toronto.

Also, you will hear me talk about Bullet Catch presented by Scottish performer, Rob Drummond, which is also part of our Luminato offering this year which I have called Transgressive Magic. More on all of this soon.

In the meantime, have a look at Magicana’s website, join Magicana’s eList for news.

 

We’re back!

As Luminato, Toronto’s festival of creativity and the arts, has just announced, we will be part of the Festival’s Masters of Magic series June 10-18th.

As the Artistic Director of Magicana, I program the magic for the Festival. Magicana will be presenting three distinct programs in June: Natural Magick, Vodavil and Eric Mead: Toast of the Town.  Magicana will also be presenting its community outreach program, My Magic Hands, at Holland-Bloorview Kid’s Rehabilitation Hospital, and at Queen Victoria Public School.

I’ll be discussing the ins and outs of the various shows over the coming weeks. At this stage, if you love magic, Toronto is the place to be between June 10-18th.

Tickets will go on sale in Mid-April. We will be giving an advance purchase option to subscribers, so make sure that you join the Magicana eList to receive word.

Thinking In Person

As the Artistic Director responsible for programming the Masters of Magic series for Luminato, I have provided the Festival with notes for the media on why I invited Juan Tamariz, Mac King, Max Maven and Bob Sheets to Toronto.

In other words, what makes these performers so special? For now, let’s focus on Max Maven.

Max Maven’s list of credits is so broad, and so deep, that even a short listing seems obnoxious. He has performed throughout the world, been a featured performer on scores of television programs, and has created and hosted television series for a variety of networks. He has hosted eight network specials in Japan – performing in Japanese – designed an interactive museum exhibition and, of course, performed before live audiences for decades.

With a lifelong passion for conjuring and kindred accomplishments, Max has invented the modus operandi for more magic and mind games than probably any other person in the history of this ancient art.

Magic isn’t, however, his only interest. Inspired by Alexander Woollcott, the quick-witted and intellectual dominatrix of the Algonquin Round Table, Max wanted to become, like Woollcott, a “fabulous monster”.

So Max combined his interest in magic, the paranormal, and human psychology to become a globetrotting mindreader – but one who, like Woollcott, has an acerbic wit.

His full-evening show – Thinking In Person – reflects his myriad of interests. Max takes the audience on a journey. He ushers the audience into his mind as he takes his own trip through theirs.

Now, there is much talk in theatre about the need to break down the fourth wall. Most stage performers, however, are terrified of interacting with the audience in an unscripted manner.

What makes Max’s performances so rewarding is that he not only takes on the risk of interacting with his audience, but he actually embraces it. It can create tension for all concerned. And, that is a good thing.

Join us on June 18, 2010 for Max Maven’s Thinking In Person – the more minds, the merrier.

More Magic!

I’m pleased to report that the Masters of Magic series at Luminato has more than just stage and street performances by Juan Tamariz, Mac King, Max Maven and Bob Sheets. The Festival is also screening The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam, a film by Ann Marie Fleming. I am honored to have played a bit part in both the making of the film, and its forthcoming screening at the Festival.

The film is about Ann Marie’s search for information about her great-grandfather, Long Tack Sam. Ann Marie describes Sam as, “The Devilishly Handsome Globe-Hopping Chinese Vaudevillian Magician and Acrobat”. And that he was.

I first met Ann Marie in 1997 when I was performing The Conjuror at the Royal Ontario Museum. She introduced herself as a friend of the filmmaker Ron Mann, a mutual acquaintance, and asked if I had ever heard the name “Long Tack Sam”. Much to her surprise, I had. She then showed me one Sam’s scrapbooks from “Scala”. I was able to put in her touch with many other magicians who helped her piece together the life of this remarkable performer. I then watched her over the course of the next few years assemble the story, and the film. Quite a journey! Although the film had its official premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2003, the actual world premiere took place a few days earlier, at 31 Faces North in Toronto, a gathering of magicians that I co-hosted with Magicana, and Allan Slaight. Several of the magicians featured in Ann Marie’s film were in attendance. It was a great evening.

Luminato is a curated Festival, that is, the programming is developed along lines envisioned by an artistic director, in this case, Chris Lorway. This year, Chris has tabled three broad themes: East/West, Artist Rights, and Divas. It was easy to suggest Ann Marie’s film be included because it deals with, in its own way, all three. You can see The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam for yourself – and at no charge – at the theatre at the National Film Board on June 20 at 2:30 PM.

I am also participating in a public form about rights in the arts. The forum, moderated by Chris Lorway, takes place at the Roots Store at 100 Bloor Street West on June 16 at 12:30 PM.  I have always been interested in this topic and I believe that the history of magic as a performing art offers insight into the relationship between artists and creative works.

Coincidentally, I was recently sent a copy of Law and Magic, a collection of essays published by Carolina Academic Press, to review. One of the essays, “Secrets Revealed: Protecting Magicians’s Intellectual Property without Law” generated a lot of press, including from The Economist, prior to its publication in this book. The paper discusses, among other things, how the magic community has developed a set of informal norms and sanctions to protect their intellectual property.

I read the paper at a draft stage when the author, Jacob Loshin, was seeking comments. His notion, however, of how magicians protect their secrets, and their ability to do so, was completely off the mark. It still is. This is because he makes the classic mistake of assuming that, because he once dabbled in magic, and was a member of a magic society – a hobby club, really – that he has an insider’s understanding of the profession. He doesn’t.  It certainly sounds good, however.

As for the third theme – Divas – need I say anything more?

 

We’re back!

Blogging is a lot like dieting: one starts with the best of intentions but it is easy to fall off the track. There are simply too many distractions.

Fortunately for me, it wasn’t the chocolate cake. We’ve just been busy with many projects.

We’ve been working with the fine cast and crew at the Shaw Festival to develop a new illusion for A Touch of Venus, a musical written by Kurt Weil, Ogden Nash and S.J. Perelman. To crib from an old Penn & Teller testimonial – one that I believe they wrote about themselves – the musical can best be described as zany, brainy, marvelous and mad.  I don’t want to spoil the illusion by giving you too much information. Suffice to say, the team put lots of time into it, more than most people would ever imagine, which is the case with all great magic, and the results show. They have created a wonderful grace note to a fun-filled theatrical outing.

We’re also just back from Chicago where we hosted, as Artistic Director of Magicana, the 41st Annual Magic Collectors Weekend. Although we have produced many shows and conferences over the years, this was our first for the Magic Collectors Association. Fortunately, we had a crackerjack team, led by Julie Eng, Executive Director of Magicana, ensure that everything ran smoothly. There were many highlights – the presentation by Guests of Honor George Daily and Mike Caveney on their acquisition of Egyptian Hall, the presentations by Diego Domingo and Gary Hunt on “finding your man”, and a heartfelt presentation by Walter Blaney of his famous levitation. Walter, now 82, informed the group that he was performing the levitation for the last time. Julie Eng was his floatee. It was a beautiful illusion performed by a real gentleman. All delegates felt enriched by his stories and presence.

Finally, we’re now gearing up for Luminato, Toronto’s festival of creativity and the arts.  As you know, Magicana is producing “Masters of Magic” with Juan Tamariz, Max Maven, Mac King and Bob Sheets. Advance sales have been very strong. So much so, that Juan’s Sunday afternoon show is now going to be performed in English. Originally he was going to perform the first show in Spanish, the second in English, and the third in French. Tickets disappeared so quickly for the English-only performance, however, that the Festival asked for Juan to change the French-language show to a second English-only performance to accommodate the demand.

Many other exciting projects are in the works, and we will report on them shortly.

 

Shhh…It’s a Secret!

As you know from previous postings, we are programming the Masters of Magic series as part of Luminato, Toronto’s superb festival dedicated to creativity and the arts. Tickets go on sale to the general public on April 15th through Ticketmaster.ca.

We’re pleased, however, to offer you the opportunity to purchase your tickets in advance of the general public by using a secret password. No, it’s not “Open Sesame”. The code is “IMAGINE”. Yes, all capital letters.

You can use it anytime from April 5th to 14th to purchase your tickets. Simply visit Ticketmaster.ca to order your tickets and, when prompted for the code word, enter the word IMAGINE.

Just remember, it’s our secret!

 

Luminato

Well, it’s official.

Luminato (www.luminato.com), Toronto’s annual ten-day celebration of the arts where the city’s stages, streets, and public spaces are infused with theatre, dance, classical and contemporary music, film, literature, visual arts, and design, will now feature Magic.

As the Artistic Director of Magicana, I have been working closely with Luminato to bring four of the world’s master magicians – Juan Tamariz, Mac King, Max Maven and Bob Sheets – to Toronto as part of the Festival. What a wonderful opportunity, particularly for the public who now has the chance to see these four stellar performers present their work in such a superb setting.

Juan Tamariz will perform his full show three times – first in Spanish (June 17), then in English (June 19) and then in French (June 20), a testament to his extraordinary talent and to the diversity of Toronto, and the Festival. Max Maven presents his one-man theatrical journey – “Thinking In Person”  – Friday evening, June 18th. Mac King will be presenting his full Las Vegas show on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, June 19th and 20th.

All performances by Tamariz, Maven, and King will take place at the Panasonic Theatre.

Tickets will be priced at $35.00 and $45.00, and will go on sale at 10:00 am on April 15th through TicketMaster (call 416-872-1111 or visit www.ticketmaster.ca).

Bob Sheets will be roaming the city, staging impromptu street performances here and there, between the 17th and the 20th.

Additional magic-related events are scheduled, and I’ll comment about the performers, the Festival, and other upcoming events in the coming weeks. I’ll also let you know when the Festival’s full schedule is released so you can plan your time accordingly. It’s worth noting, however, that a lot “just happens”. That is one of the hallmarks of the Festival, to surprise the city and the public with events throughout the dates.

None of this, of course, would be possible without the vision of the Festival’s organizers, and its extensive network of sponsors, L’Oréal being the lead sponsor. The magic component was made possible by the generous support of the Slaight Family through Luminato’s SuperNova Program Development Fund. Juan Tamariz’ performance is supported by The Consulate General of Spain.

So, block off two sets of dates.

The first is April 15th. You will want to book your tickets on the day they go sale to avoid disappointment. Second, June 11 to the 20th to spend time in Toronto sampling some of the very the best the world as to offer.

Save the dates!

If you have never been to Toronto, now’s the time.

Actually, now is the time to plan to be in Toronto between June 17th and 20th to see some of the world’s greatest magicians perform their one-man shows.

Magicana will be presenting Juan Tamariz (3 performances), Mac King (2 performances) and Max Maven (1 performance) in a beautiful theatre. These performances will be their full shows and, for Juan and Mac, the only opportunity to see them with the full program outside their usual domains.

More information about the performances and ticket availability will be forthcoming in April.

Magicana eList members, however, will be notified as soon as tickets are about to go on sale; make sure that you are on our list so that you don’t miss out. You can also follow me and I’ll let you know, too.