Amazing things happen when we work together!a blog series highlighting some of key times I’ve helped (alongside others) to organise entertainment for children and families – Issue I

I was speaking with a child before a show recently and they said, “I know magicians aren’t real. It’s all tricks.” Now, I’m never one to tell someone what to believe, but I do like to suggest that there might be another way of thinking about things. “Is that what you think?” I asked, “I wonder what you’ll think at the end of the show.”

Great magic creates a sense of wonder and amazement, and often this is described as a “child like” wonder. I think often this is thought of as the wonder of not knowing, but I prefer to think of wonder as an experience of knowing something fully and securely and then having the opposite revealed to you. Antinomy! I believe this is better thought of as a grown up sense of wonder. It’s an experience that abounds in the discovery of scientific phenomena, as well as the admiration of human achievement.

When the child above told me they thought magic was all tricks, it was music to my ears. It meant that I could be the one to reveal the world of magic to them, in a way that wouldn’t be possible if they still believed I actually was magic.

Wonder: a feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar.

Even for children, I believe this sense of “grown up wonder” exists. Children have knowledge of the world. As shown by the child I spoke to, they know what is real, and what is imaginary or pretend.

This helps me to create a great show for them. The skill in magic is in building on the assumptions of your audience. Then comes the moment that the magician twists away from what was assumed to be the case, leaving open a question of what is / isn’t real. Of course, magic isn’t real, (otherwise, I would be burnt at the stake) but my job isn’t do real magic, it’s simple to make you wonder for a few moments, “what if?”

Like the child in the above example who experienced something, they couldn’t explain. It’s a sobering thought to realise there are a whole load of things you don’t know about. That immediate sense of your reality rapidly expanding is what I call magic. It’s a sobering thought and I think a good one.

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