Archive | November, 2009

An Artistic Point of View

27 Nov

We are delighted to announce that Magicana’s Artistic Director, David Ben, is now posting on a new blog: Tricks & Tweets. You can visit it here:
After much lobbying, we have convinced David to share his thoughts and insights on all things magic. Though he is known for his vast knowledge of history and sleight-of-hand, David is also a creative individual who has much to share. His eclectic background often produces interesting conversation – and those interpretations, more often than not, turn into very interesting projects! Just look at some of Magicana’s recent endevours:
Want to know how he does it? Then, check it out the blog. You can also follow him on Twitter.
In his new blog, David will muse on tangential thoughts drawing from things that he is currently working on: from Riffle Cull Shuffle work (for those who really want to know!), to consulting for theatrical production companies, to sharing his tips and tricks on achieving useful and productive practise.
We hope you enjoy it!

Magic Makes A Difference

20 Nov

Magicana was honoured to be a part of a recent fundraising event by The Stephen Leacock Foundation for Children – a foundation dedicated to helping disadvantaged youth. One of its primary activities is hosting annual dinners for members of The Leacock Club. The Club, more than anything, is a community of sensibilities; a gathering of people from different walks of life that looks at the world in the same way and takes pleasure in the same things. More importantly, members raise significant awareness, funds and resources to aid children and children’s programs in Toronto and as far away as Whittlesea in South Africa.

Magicana’s Executive Director, Julie Eng and its Artistic Director, David Ben – a long-time member and supporter of the Leacock Club – were invited to sprinkle their magic at the annual fall event on November 17th and November 18th. It was hosted at the beautiful Auberge du Pommier in Toronto.
The intimate affair gave Club Members a chance to see the power of philanthropy and generosity as Leacock Club Chair, Peter Oliver, outlined the outstanding achievements that the Foundation has established in Toronto’s own back yard and in Whittlesea, South Africa. Magicana is connected with the Foundation through programming in Toronto like the Homework Clubs where, in partnership with Havergal College, we deliver My Magic Hands.
Part of the Leacock tradition includes wit and good humour (naturally, with the Club’s namesake being humourist Stephen Leacock) and now, a bit of magic as well. The Club likes to remind its membership that generosity feels good. And the world could use a bit more of it, too. What is wonderful is that the Club also believes that a serious cause is not necessarily a cause for seriousness and that laughter and fun nourishes the soul – a philosophy that Magicana is very proud to support. Magic can make a difference.
We congratulate the Members of the Leacock Club for their incredible work and commitment towards children’s education and well-being. It is heart-warming to know that these future generations have such guardians watching over them.

Camping in our own backyard.

13 Nov

On Sunday Nov, 8, 2009 Magicana was thrilled to present “Bootcamp Magic” a one-day magic workshop for children attending Camp Oochigeas’ Urban Camp.

Camp Oochigeas is a privately funded, volunteer-based organization that provides kids with cancer and kids affected by childhood cancer with a unique opportunity for growth through challenging, fun and magical experiences.
Magicana was honoured be invited to provide a custom-version of our children’s program, My Magic Hands. We created custom “Boxes of Secrets” for each child and Magicana provided all the instruction and Camp Ooch Counsellors took the role of Magic Coach. The children were, of course, our magicians for the day.
The morning started magically right off the top: as campers arrived, they checked into the “magic station” where “magic powers” were created … with duct tape, crepe-paper streamers and a lot of imagination! We made magic wands, supercapes, power shields and of course, magic bands of power.

Magic hands at work

After taking our oaths of secrecy, we rolled up our sleeves and dove into learning magic. Children learned magic with ropes, “props”, cards, sponges and even a fortune-telling fish! It was a jam-packed day of learning and fun.
A highlight was the immense delight the magicians showed as they discovered magic (and their own abilities!) and watching how their counsellors brought out the very best in each child. And, being at camp, you never knew when a group of campers and their coaches would suddenly break into song! Magicana “retaliated” with random acts of magic.
At the end of the day, we invited family and friends to come and attend The Big Show where 19 of the children presented the magic that they had learned. Family members confessed to us afterwards that they were astounded at how much the children learned in just five hours. The audience applauded wildly as the children graduated with their “Box of Secrets” and “Certificates of Completion” in hand.
What did the kids think of the day:
“The classes were fun and the teachers were great! The Big Show was awesome.”
“The Big Show was the most fun of the program.”
“I wish that we could learn more magic tricks!”
“It’s wonderful to learn magic. I love magic now a lot.”
Magicana was very proud to be a part of something so powerful and inspiring. We were pleased to have Julie Eng at the helm leading the team with assistance from James Alan and Magicana volunteer extraordinaire, Joe Culpepper. We applaud and acknowledge the incredible and hard-working volunteers and staff of Camp Ooch for making the event possible.
It is wonderful to see that anything is possible!

Rene Johnson Passes Away

2 Nov

Rene Johnson, wife of Sid Lorraine, passed away on October 31, 2009. She was born Irene Kathleen Annie Buttler on March 26, 1911 in Leystonstone, England, a suburb of London, England. Her family relocated to Canada when she was a child. From her earliest years, she was interested in art. In her late teens, Rene began work as a commercial artist for Batten, a graphic arts and lithography firm in Toronto, Ontario. It was there that she met Sid Johnson, an assistant art director of the company. After a three year courtship, they were married July 20, 1932, the very day Sid started the run of his weekly radio show – Radio Magic – on C.F.R.B. (Above photo: Sid and Rene on their wedding day.) They were married for fifty-seven years.
During their early marriage, Rene became a freelance artist for Chatelaine magazine, Better Homes and Gardens and drew illustrations for Church of England publications. Ever gracious and hospitable, the couple often invited touring magicians, famous and infamous, to their home. Rene quickly became friends with magicians around the world. When their two children, Ruth and Douglas, began college, Rene began accompanying Sid to magic conventions and was a great supporter of his passion for magic. As their daughter Ruth wrote, “Sid was her best friend, her hero, her lover, her mentor and her soul mate.”

Sid dedicated his “Scrapbook”, published by the Abbott Magic Co to Rene:

This book is affectionately dedicated to my wife, Rene…who, for thirty years has done such a fine job of raising a family; putting out the garbage; shoveling snow; cleaning windows; digging the garden; spreading fertilizer and cutting down trees; mowing the lawn; mixing cement; hanging wallpaper; repairing stoves and cleaning drains…so that I could devote my time to the more important things like thimble-moves and cutting rope…threading colored beads and blocks on bits of string and doing major research with rubber bands, paper clips and playing cards.

Even many years after Sid’s death on October 15, 1989, Rene still corresponded with magicians near and far. She had candour, wit, talent, an amazing memory and a lust for life. She was loved by all who had the honour of knowing her and will be sorely missed.

Magicana is honoured to be singled out by the Johnson Family as a benefiting charity from donations given in memory of Rene Johnson. To make an online donation, click here.
Visit Magicana’s featured online exhibition, “The Magical Chatterbox: A Blog by Sid Lorraine“.
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