by Megan Kurashige
Today, we had our fourth rehearsal for Queen of Knives. We are thinking hard about magic tricks. They’re beautifully constructed lies, stories of another version of reality that is both impossible and delightful, and even skeptical people often seem to hunger for the sensation of being fooled. But, why love them? In real life, being fooled, fleeced, conned, or made to believe in something that doesn’t really exist isn’t frequently a pleasure.
Shannon and I have always loved magic tricks. When I was a kid, I wanted to believe in them, wanted them to be proof that people could fly and tissue paper could turn into roses, but now I have a more complicated reaction, even if my affection remains absolute. I want someone to be so good at telling me their story, so confident in offering their finely built version of events, that I can’t detect a dishonest bone in their body. I want to believe in the face of impossibility. I want to be astonished by the skill with which someone tricks me.
Here are some things that we’ve been watching:
- Teller performing his fishbowl trick. We saw him do this at a show in Las Vegas. It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen on a stage.
- Penn and Teller explaining sleight of hand. Teller does a gloriously complicated sleight of hand sequence to mimic the unremarkable actions of dropping a cigarette, stamping it out, and lighting a new one.
- Cardini in his simultaneously elegant and bumbling routine of cruel playing cards and persistent cigarettes.
- Tony Slydini making a fool of a young man with torn up bits of paper.
- David Copperfield performing the origami box illusion. This is completely ridiculous.
- Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort. This gorgeous dance piece has one of the cheesiest illusions ever in it and it is absolutely wonderful. If you just want to see the trick, go to 3:12.
Here are some things that we’ve been reading:
- Adam Green’s New Yorker article “A Pickpocket’s Tale: the Spectacular Thefts of Apollo Robbins.”
- Kat Howard’s short story “Stage Blood” in Subterranean.
- Jim Steinmeyer’s Hiding the Elephant. A completely satisfying book about magic and the history of magic and the people who make it. Read Teller’s review for the NY Times.
Grist for the mill. Thoughts and more thoughts.