Dear Friends in Magic,
When I last wrote you in April, I couldn’t have imagined the state of the world in early June. There have been many sad and terrible things, and my heart aches. Yet, I also have so much hope—for a better world and for the future of magic. My purpose is to share some of this with you here, so let’s start with…
A BIG IDEA
For years, I have closed my magic lectures by saying, “The world needs magic. The world needs your magic.” I often follow this by saying we really don’t need any more “tricks” and “tricksters”—we’re doing just fine on lies and deceptions and people who would take advantage of us for their own gain. No, no: what people hope and hunger for is magic.
This has always been true, but today it is, perhaps, more pressing than ever. The world seems to have come unglued. Familiar touchstones are gone. As one commentator recently noted, we feel depressed because we’re living as though we are depressed: closed in, no contact, hanging on.
And yet, magicians are people who have a special gift and calling. We know how to give people intense moments of pleasure and awe. We know how to surprise them with experiences that remind them the world is richer than they knew. We know how to artfully show the impossible is possible—if even just for a moment—which holds open a space for hope.
That is a lot of good from one little art form.
I know it’s hard to give a gift when one’s own heart hurts, but I encourage you to try to share your astonishing art with others. Perhaps it will be only one great routine you perform for friends online. Perhaps it will be an online show you develop for all the children who are bouncing off walls. Perhaps it will be an in-person show that respects social distancing. Perhaps it will be creating new routines for others to perform during the COVID era.
This might not feel easy, but it will be good. And it will make a difference for people at these trying times.
I have some good news, too: in the last few weeks, I see considerable movement in, and for, our art. I know several working pros who have pivoted into this era and are getting paid excellent money to perform on a regular basis. Indeed, opportunities and audiences are definitely starting to open up for both online and in-person shows.
I am not surprised because—remember—the world needs magic. It needs your magic. And we—you and me—are the relatively few with the calling and talents to deliver it. I cannot wait to see what you come up with!
IN THE STUDIO
In March my rehearsal studio rather quickly became a video studio, from which I offer programs, classes, and performances. For example, every Monday night, I help host Mystery School Monday (7:00-9:00 p.m., pacific), which is free and open to the world during the pandemic. (Here is the link for you to join us: www.zoom.us/j/685273864.)
Also, I am currently developing my next online course: “Deep Study of a Modern Master: JUAN TAMARIZ.” This is being offered with Juan’s blessings on three Thursday evenings in July (the 9th, 16th, and 23rd). I hope you will consider signing up for a “feast of magic”—including a few routines—from one of our greatest magicians.
I have also had some media appearances you might be interested in. Although I did previously mention my interview in Imp Magazine, you can now see the published version with all the photos, including a spectacular cover.
The team at Svengali had me on for a very thoughtful, fun conversation. You can listen to that podcast here.
Finally, an article by me kicking off a year-long series celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Magic & Mystery School was just published in the latest issue of Vanish Magazine.
Thank you for checking some of these items out. I hope you enjoy them!
IT’S NOT MAGIC, BUT…
At the start of “sheltering at home,” my family got hooked on the NetFlix docuseries, Chef’s Table. Each cinematically beautiful episode is an inside study of a great chef from around the world: how they think, what inspires them, how they got started, and challenges they’ve faced. Along the way, you get to see their spectacular creations and learn what’s involved in delivering excellent food and service to the public every day.
Very often I find an episode to be utterly inspiring. Most of the chefs we meet are artists, working from their highly developed base of technical knowledge to express their creative visions of what food might be. At the same time, we see them work in their venues with their teams to design every aspect of the customer experience so the “audience” leaves feeling thrilled, overwhelmed, and satisfied. I am amazed by the kinship I feel with many of these chefs. We do the same “work”! It’s just that I use playing cards, rope, and coins, while they use flour, cheese, tomatoes, and vegetables.
In particular, watch the episodes on Massimo Bottura, Nancy Silverton, and Albert Adrià. But first, start with the episode on Grant Achatz from Alinea Restaurant in Chicago, because he explicitly thinks about everything he creates in terms of magic.
HAPPENING AT THE PRESS
I have been working on three book projects since I last wrote, and all three of them are right on schedule and giving me a great deal of pleasure.
Last time, I mentioned the forthcoming book by Judge Gary Brown, Wandcraft: How to Make and Use a Magic Wand, which is now in the design phase for release this October. I am also working with Robert E. Neale on a new book titled Magic Inside Out that will share fourteen of Bob’s wonderful, previously unpublished routines. Above all, I am working steadily on Eugene Burger: Final Secrets, which remains on target for release in the summer of 2021.
While you wait for those new offerings, I hope you will stop in at Theory and Art of Magic Press to check out the following new items we have in stock.
First, I recently completed an agreement with Ferdinando Buscema and Mariano Tomatis to carry the print and PDF versions of Amaze: The Art of Creating Magical Experiences. Amaze is not a book of tricks but a manual that will help you create and design magical experiences for friends, colleagues, clients, and customers. Overflowing with examples of delightful surprises people have designed for others—including one created for Eugene Burger—you will find yourself inspired to create more magical experiences in your everyday life for others “magic design.”
We also have a handful of copies of Chan Canasta’s Book of Oopses. This hard-to-find book was first published in the 1960s. Along the lines of The Magic Show (by M. Setteducati and A. Benkovitz), its “conceit” is that the book will read your mind. Which it does with surprising regularity.
Finally, we have in stock two of the three Tamariz books we’ll be studying in my class next month, and they are available at a discount. This includes The Magic Way has been out of print for quite some time.
Three months into the pandemic, we are now officially “in the slog.” Nonetheless, I hope these words and offerings can bring some pleasure to your days. Please do stay in touch and share this newsletter with any friends and family who might enjoy it. May you be healthy and peaceful in the weeks ahead!
Dean of McBride’s Magic & Mystery School
Publisher, Theory and Art of Magic Press