What is Magic? For most, this is a question rarely pondered. Others have quick and definitive answers. But for magician David London, wondering just what magic is, has remained at the forefront of him mind, his life, and his art for over 20 years.
This weekend, David will be presenting a Weekend of Magic at Baltimore’s Theatre Project. The three day event will feature two performances of his Magic Outside The Box Cabaret Show, a Magic Workshop, a FREE FAMILY performance of The Adventure to the Imagi Nation, and a Circus of Wonders Variety Show Spectacular!
For those of you who have never seen David perform, you should probably know that his magic is not at all typical. He doesn’t pull rabbits out of hats, saw women in half, or float objects through space. Instead, he demonstrates the magic of thinking outside the box, proves the psychic potential of a collection of celebrity toenail clippings, explores his astrological connection to Wonder Bread, and facilitates a visit from Satan himself! And that’s really just the beginning.
David is far from what we think of when we think of a magician. Having moved to Baltimore just over 18 months ago, David has an extensive resume and a long list of accomplishments. Aside from performing his five shows all over the U.S., he has authored nearly ten manuscripts on magic and illusion, and has produced art, films, circuses, festivals and large scale events for over half of his life.
David is a consummate creator, who revels in the imagination and dreams of impossible things, before transforming those dreams into reality. But David’s magic is not limited to mere tricks. In fact, in the description of the Magic Workshop, to be held as part of the Weekend of Magic, it states that “David believes that magic and magic tricks are two completely different things.” When we met for an interview, I decided this would be a good place to start.
Phil : What is the difference between magic and a magic trick?
David: Let’s start with magic. I tend to ask people to define magic far more often than I choose to define it myself, simply for the fact that magic defies definition. And yet, every definition I have ever encountered seems to be correct, which is part of the beauty of thinking about magic. For my own definition, which I give hesitantly, I try to include all definitions, and define magic simply as the expansion of possibilities. It is the experience of what we know, becoming larger.
Phil: So it seems by your definition that magic is the larger thread of wonder that can occur in a person in more situations than just through tricks. How do magic tricks work with this larger idea of magic?
David: Magic tricks are illusions that literally trick the brain into experiencing magic, even though they are grounded in absolute logic, proper construction, and precise execution. Magic tricks emerge out of the infinite and can lead back to it, but are themselves, just tricks. The magic is the experience of the trick, and the momentary expansion of possibilities that it offers. The trick is one way to get there.
Photo by Philip Laubner
Phil : Can you elaborate on what you mean by proper construction?
David: When constructing a magic trick, every question needs to be answered, and you must be sure there are no suspicious moves or breaking of patterns. This allows for the magic to maintain the illusion of fluidity in order to make the magic trick appear as though it exists outside of our pre-existing notions of what is possible, when in reality, what is taking place is often quite simple. The construction is literally the construction of the reality the audience will experience, which must be a completely different reality from what is actually taking place.
Photo by Theresa Keil
Phil : I’m fascinated by the level of vigilance, discipline and logic that goes into making something that’s not real, that’s an illusion.
David: I am as well. A magic trick starts from a dream of something impossible and irrational. It’s totally irrational for me to imagine a soda can floating up from a table and pouring itself into a glass. But that is normal thinking for a magician. So you start with this imaginative, abstract idea, and then immediately have to switch over to thinking with absolute logic, precision, and mechanics, which needs to be so precise that their workings are completely concealed. So magic tricks emerge from the extremes of both modes of thinking, and both sides of the brain. In many ways, creating a magic trick is just an extreme form of all creative acts. This has led me to believe that all creative acts, are in fact, acts of magic.
Phil : How is your magic different from the magic of other magicians?
David: I would say that my magic differs greatly from most of the modern magicians we see today, and actually has a lot more in common with the magic of the archaic past. If you look at magic today, most of it mirrors the world we currently live in. We want bigger, faster, and flashier, and we want it now. Whereas in the distant past, a magic trick was always part of something larger. It was utilized in the context of a story or initiatory teaching, to explore a concept or further an idea within a much larger exploration or magical experience.
Phil: How does this apply to your own act?
David: The magic tricks I perform are often utilized as the punctuation at the end of a sentence. I try to create much larger worlds to enter into than just the trick. By incorporating story-telling, philosophy, and larger concepts as the backbone of my work, the magic trick often appears as the final thought that seals the deal. Sometimes there isn’t even a trick at all.
Phil: Do you consider yourself an entertainer or an artist?
David: Truthfully, I simply consider myself a magician. As a magician, I also see myself as both an artist and an entertainer. When it comes to explaining what I do to someone who is potentially interested in hiring me, I usually refer to what I do as entertainment if that is what they are looking for, and refer to it as art if that is what they had in mind. Being able to have a foot in both worlds has certainly been beneficial to my career, working at both private events as an entertainer as well as galleries, theaters and museums as an artist.
Photo by Theresa Keil
Phil: You are presenting two performances of your cabaret show, Magic Outside The Box, on Friday and Saturday nights at 8PM. What can we expect to see at this show?
David: The show is made up of excerpts from nearly 15 years of work, including pieces from my previous shows, including …Art of Dreams, Cerebral Sorcery, and The Imagination Show. It combines magic with storytelling, puppetry, philosophy, and that which cannot be explained, into a show of magic unlike any you have experienced before. Expect to laugh, think, and be amazed.
Phil: Can you tell us about you family show, The Adventure to the Imagi Nation?
David: I created this show for the Chicago Children’s Museum six or seven years ago. It takes kids (of all ages) on an adventure to the Imagi Nation, as if it is an actual travel destination. In the show, I play several different characters, including the Mayor of Imagi, the Fisherman, the Librarian and the Milliner. Each character shares a story, a bit of wisdom and some magic.
I will be presenting this show FREE OF CHARGE at The Weekend of Magic on Saturday, January 12th at 11AM. I recommend the show for ages 5-11, but it is fun for everyone!
Phil: And what about the Circus of Wonders Variety Show Spectacular?
David: In September of last year, Jeramie Bellmay and I launched the Circus of Wonders, as a one-stop circus for hire! For the past several months, we have put together a troupe of over 15 artists, who present a variety of interactive art, on stage performances, full shows, and workshops. We have been presenting shows at a variety of special events in Baltimore, DC and surrounding areas.
For the Circus of Wonders Variety Show Spectacular, which takes place on Sunday, January 13th (at 6:17 PM) we have lined up an amazing number and variety of performers for what will be a once in a lifetime celebration of wonder, magic & play. We have dance, juggling, swordswallowing, contortion, mime, magic, balloons, bubbles, clowns and more! Because of the intensity of some of the feats being performed, we recommend this show for ages 13+.
Phil: Anything else?
David: Yes. I should mention our sponsor, Dr. Nodnol’s Imagination Rejuvenation Tonic. Dr. Nodnol himself will be on hand on Sunday afternoon at the Circus of Wonders Variety Show Spectacular, to demonstrate and sell his amazing tonic. We are grateful to be working with such a wonderful man, and an amazing product, to help bring this Weekend of Magic to Baltimore audiences.
Image by Charon Henning
OFFICIAL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
Friday, January 11, 8:00 PM – Magic Outside The Box Cabaret Show
Saturday, January 12, 11:00 AM – The Adventure to the Imagi Nation Family Show – FREE
Saturday, January 12, 2:00 PM – Magic Workshop
Saturday, January 12, 8:00 PM – Magic Outside The Box Cabaret Show
Sunday, January 13, 6:17PM - Circus of Wonders Variety Show Spectacular! Featuring Bagoas, Harley Newman, Jeramie Bellmay, Jonathan Burns, Emma Jaster, Nona Narcisse, Pandora’s Box, Jennifer Stephens, Drex, April Gomez, Paco Fish, a Sideshow Museum from James Taylor’s Shocked & Amazed and more!
Click here for more info: http://theatreproject.org/Shows/DavidLondon’sWeekendOfMagic/
Click here to purchase tickets: https://btp.tixato.
Facebook Invite: https://www.facebook.
If you are interested in knowing more about David’s magic, I would encourage you to visit his website at MagicOutsideTheBox.com