Interview SMI Italy – Lawrens GodonWelcome as a guest in my living room magic to tell yourself and to acquaint readers with the man who is behind your character magic, your training, but especially your many interests ranging from juggling and circus arts, the close-up and illusionism. Without neglecting the television experience!
Hi Silvia, thank you for your interest in my magic life !
I read in your resume that you are self-taught. Why did you decide to make a path solitaire and does not to attend school or club magic?
As a kid, I wanted so much to learn magic tricks that I tried everything that I could find : little french booklets, books, gadgets, magic boxes, etc… Being a solitary nature, magic was the perfect hobby for me as a kid ! At this time I was constantly moving from town to town, because my mother being a dancer and theater actress. Sometimes we were living in the countryside, there were no magic clubs at all. It’s in 1981 that I contacted the AFAP, french national association of magicians in Grenoble, where I had to present an entrance examination… during this year I met some great people, magicians and lecturers who drove me onto the professional path. Then in 1994 I met Jean-Pierre Vallarino and the magicians in Nice (06).
How did your passion for magic? The magic was already present in your imagination of childhood or ameeting or an event sparked this interest? As this magical Musa has changed your life?
I first met magic in 1972, as a kid. I saw a magician (Cirque Bonjour) who did magic with bubbles. After the show, I really wanted to meet the artist, and my mom brought me to his dressing-room. I had a chat with him. This meeting changed my life forever ! I never stopped learning and doing magic up to this day : that’s more than 30 years of practice and love of magic… before this event, I was already in the artistic sphere of influence : I was participating in street theater with actors like Philippe Caubère, Maxime Lombard and theJérôme Savary’s team at the Great Magic Circus (Aix-en-Provence, 70’s).
You began by studying classical Chinese rings, then the Cups and Balls and finally manipulating balls and coins. Which of these you most passionate about and why?
I enjoy presenting all these great classics, because… they are classics ! That means that they are in the collective unconsciousness of people ! These great magic effects traveled through time since numerous centuries, and today we can present them, in different ways. I feel honored to be able to present the classic of magic, because doing so I feel like being a link in a chain of magicians from the past… coin magic is an exception in my work, because I was able over time to develop personal and innovative techniques and effects. Also, the more time passes, the more I like ungimmicked magic ; I prefer to develop techniques to achieve the same goal as a gimmick. Of course, there are exceptions, such as the linking rings… but wait ! I know that Winston Freer could do an ungimmicked version of the rings in the past ! One more point : artistic agents love to hire me with the linking rings, cups and balls, contact juggling etc, because as they say : “You bring stage magic to the tables !”. When you do this kind of routines in close-up situations, you work for several tables at the same time… I get a lot more applause, and the agent is happy!
Your passion is precisely the manipulation and you like to express it in particular through the juggling with crystal balls. What fascinates you in particular of the sphere: the light that is reflected and refracted or the many possibilities that this object allows you to express artistically?
Contact juggling is so magical ! You’re right Silvia, the light reflecting in the sphere has an hypnotical power, both on me as a performer and on the public ! First time I watched a crystal sphere manipulator, I felt exactly as the kid I once was watching magic : completely mesmerized ! I wanted to learn this technique immediately. I work hard on the different manipulating techniques, with one big sphere, and also with up to 6/7 crystal balls at the same time… today, I’m about to release a new stage/cabaret act, based on these beautiful spheres : there are a lot of magical surprises in this act, as I make them appear, vanish, levitate… all in all, I highly recommend to study this art to any magician : it’s a great illusion with no gimmick, and it’s very good for the hand’s health !
When you make street magic, you work in pairs with a ballet dancer-contortionist. You Tell us what is your performance and how you manage to combine the art of magic with that of dance.
Oh, sweet memories… working with contortionists was so rewarding. At the time of this act, we were working on an India theme : fakirs, street magicians are a tradition there (I travelled to India to meet magicians in the 90’s). Being the director of the professional team at this time, I devised some scenarii for the contortionists, using their particularities in a creative way. For example, some of them had snakes costumes and make-up ; they would crawl out of the Hindu basket illusion, like live and dangerous snakes ! We also had a duet at this time. I presented a lot of fire magic, such as the floating flame, fire breathing and eating, and my partner did traditional indian dance (Bharata natyam) and contortion stunts…
Between your experiences there are also television appearances, alongside actresses like Mireille Darc and investments in short films in India at the international School of cinema. What is left of this experience and what has been important for your path and your growth as an artist?
As an artist in perpetual development, all kind of adventures are welcome. TV shows were great experiences, full of surprises and unforeseen events. An example : one day I presented the great colored sands in water illusion. I was filmed outdoor, it was very hot, I couldn’t control the temperature of water. I almost revealed the secret ! By chance the secret was not spoiled, but I can assure you that I had cold sweats… Up to this day I always control the temperature of the water for this illusion, even in winter! TV and cinema was also great to meet awesome people, and make rewarding contacts.
With the close-up you’ve placed second in the competition the ‘Colombe d’Or’ in Juan-les-Pins. Which act did you perform and what this experience have left to you both from the point personal of view that as a promoter of international exposure and work?
At the time of this particular contest (1996), the competition was taking place at the tables in a restaurant, like any formal table-hopping gig. The jury was placed among the spectators at each table. I presented my rings routine, cups and balls, coins and… crystal ball manipulations in a gypsy character. It was nice to get a prize, but I can’t say that this had any influence on my career : I was already well know with my magic and I was working a lot in the French Riviera palaces and venues. What makes the difference for the contest were the crystal balls. This is very important, because it’s not really magic, more a kind of manipulative juggling. BUT the people and jury felt it was magical of the highest level, hence the award…
The study and the work gave you the opportunity to travel to Countries very different for traditions and culture such as India, Argentina and Africa. What do you have left these trips?
A desire to travel again and again ! Performing in India was so incredible… an unforgettable experience. It was really great to exchange magic with indian performers… Argentina also has an incredible amount of creative magicians. I went there with Jean-Pierre Vallarino, great magician and friend. I was his personal assistant then. I enjoyed sharing coin techniques with fellow magicians. I think it’s important to meet foreign magicians, to understand how the art developped itself differently in various country. Now I want to travel to Asia, China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and so on, because I know that these magicians have a very creativeapproach to magic.
Peeking through your photos, I saw an album full of contemporary works of art: paintings, sculptures and objects. Which of those works do you like most and you recognize yourself?
There is an advice I give all the time to young magicians. To progress in magic, one must open to the other arts : music, theater, mime, juggling, drawing, etc… it is essential to have an open mind toward the diversity of art in general, and magic in particular. All the links I post on my facebook page and my blog are creative in a sense : there is always a little “something” which leads to think. Thinking is essential in magic !
How would you define your figure as a magician and what is your definition of magic ?
You know, I started magic at such an early age that I don’t know what it means to NOT being a magician !
I’m so grateful for being able to do what I do : a passion which leads to a profession… I’m always thinking magic, doing magic, even dreaming about it… that is why in the normal, social life, I don’t often do magic. To do magic, I have to put myself on the performance mood. For me, magic is the ability to bring dreams to people, to suspend them from their lives for a moment, a moment of wonder which can remind them of their childhood… on a professional level, I don’t understand why people spoil the secrets of magic all other youtube and everywhere ? That’s completely dumb and unfair ! They shoot themselves in the foot… I know that some people think that it’s good for magic to reveal the secrets : it forces magicians to be creative… this is completely stupid. You know, paints are the medium for painting ; notes are the medium for composing music ; silent movement is the medium for mime expression. SECRETS ARE THE MEDIUM FOR THE MAGIC TO WORK !!
You became an honorary member of the SMI, what do you think of S.M.I.?
I’m very grateful for being a member of this wonderful team ! I feel honored to have met them all and to participate at the various events they organize. I enjoy working with dynamic and creative people, for this create a mutual emulation, a willing to go further… I’m so glad to be part of the SMI festival this summer ! I really think that it is important to revive the fraternity feeling, the sense of community among magicians… SMI knows how to do that. Thank you to Gianluigi, Vincenzo, Francesco, Jay, Antonio, and all the members ! And thank you Silvia, for giving me a space to express myself !
In the final of interview, Lawrens, I always ask the guest to express a greeting to the readers.
Dear readers, I hope that this diving into my magical thinking will give you the craving to go further in your travel in magic. Remember that in magic, there is no end to the study : when we think we’ve achieve a “plateau”, there is always another one to reach : this is the beauty of our art !