Tag Archives: From The Dark

Mind Over Matter

21 Jun

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The calm is now upon us after the thrilling chaos that was Luminato and what are we left with? The satisfying aftertaste of success from  the Mind Over Matter magical series!

Mind Over Matter

For this year’s Luminato, Magicana went with the saying, “Mind Over Matter”, a term originally used to refer to paranormal phenomena, to best describe the magic behind these three performers. While each show was different from the other, they all had a common theme: how magic is essentially delivered and perceived through the power of the mind.

The world’s leading mentalist, Banachek, astounded, intrigued and inspired crowds with his life story through The Alpha Project, while Richard Turner cheated his way into the hearts of Torontonians with his incredible feats in card manipulation. Similarly, Juan Esteban Varela, despite NOT being the blonde with rippling muscles as he claimed to be, resonated strongly with From the Dark, as he made his mark with one of magic’s most experiential, groundbreaking shows to date.

The Alpha Project: Insight into the Life of a Mentalist

The Alpha Project revealed Banachek’s life story. Having gone through a trying childhood – abandoned at age 9 – Banachek embraced these tribulations and used them to support him on his way to becoming a mentalist. At 18, Banachek made headlines when, for a period of four years under close scrutiny, he convinced research scientists at Washington University that he was psychic. Entitled Project Alpha,the purpose of this experiment was to disprove others who claimed to be real psychics and to declare to the world that even scientists, when lacking expertise in the arts of deception, can be easily misled.

With rave reviews from The Toronto Star, Mooney on Theatre and Torontoist, it looks like The Alpha Project fulfilled its purpose in spreading this word!

The Cheat: Why One Should Never Play Cards with Strangers

In between wowing spectators for Luminato, Richard Turner, “The Cheat” also performed for Holland Bloorview and the Parliament Branch Library. Rounds of Texas Hold ‘Em, poker, blackjack and three card monte then ensued between Richard Turner and the audience. The end results, of course, always went according to his liking, despite the inordinate amount of shuffles by audience members and, at some rounds, with limited cards.

Richard Turner, along with boggling the minds of Toronto,  also charmed the hosts of the Morning Show and the CBC’s Eli Glasner. See Richard’s part in this CBC News clip in which Eli Glasner calls today’s age a “Magic Renaissance“.

From the Dark: Magic at Its Purest Form

For the closing weekend of Luminato, we followed Juan Esteban Varela, blindfolded, as he guided us through his new show, From the Dark – the only magic show that happens in absolute darkness. With everyone participating, the show quickly became an experience with a sea of voices in an unknown space. These factors contributed to the show’s overall mystery, which is essentially magic in its base form.  Indeed, Toronto Star and Cadence Canada both agreed that From the Dark was truly unique in its premise and most of all, its effect.

And so, we end Luminato 6 with invigorating vibes and positive feedback from Toronto.

Toronto Star reviews ‘From the Dark’

17 Jun
Juan Esteban Varela in From the Dark - Photo by Aaron Harris / for the Toronto Star

JUAN ESTEBAN VARELA | From the Dark
Aaron Harris/For the Toronto Star

The Toronto Star’s staff reporter, Alyshah Hasham, reviews her experience of a magic show in total darkness, by Chilean magician Juan Esteban Varela, where even the performer is blindfolded.

Luminato: ‘From the Dark’ — A magic show performed in total darkness

By Alyshah Hasham
Staff Reporter
Jun 16, 2012

Traditional magic tricks are all about the grand reveal.

Before your very eyes, promises the magician, the dove will disappear.

But how do you perform a vanishing trick when your audience is unable to see?

That’s the premise of renowned Chilean magician Juan Esteban Varela’s “From the Dark” — a magic show where both magician and the audience are blindfolded.”

Under the fluorescent lights in the lobby of Hart House Theatre I slip on a black blindfold, “surrendering my sight” to Maria Zambrano, the appointed guide for our group of 10.

The reassuring sliver of light around my nose fades as we queue in pairs to enter the darkness of the theatre.

One hand resting on the shoulder in front of us, we shuffle carefully toward Maria’s voice.

The theatre sounds crowded, but when I end up alone for a moment, waiting to be gently herded to my seat, I can’t tell whether the closest person is a foot or 10 feet away. It’s oddly paralyzing.

“If screaming starts we’ll leave,” the optimistic woman on my right tells her friend as we settle in. “For now, let’s embrace the madness.”

It is a magic show after all — though what that entails is the subject of much speculation as we wait in the darkness.

Varela told me earlier in the day that there would be some divination, some card tricks. Oh, and that somehow he’d make something disappear.

In the two years he has been doing this show, he once performed for the King of Spain and his sister Margarita, who has been blind since birth. After the show, she emotionally told him that that was the first time she understood what it meant for something to vanish before.

As I consider this, Maria places a small box on my lap, and tells me to strap it onto my leg.

Inside are various props including cards and a coin. We are all magician assistants in this show it seems.

Finally a hush. Varela speaks. He is sitting on the stage in front of us, he says, himself blindfolded to share this journey.

The theatre is dominated by his voice, which leads us through tricks performed with our own hands and the props from the box. He guesses which hand of a volunteer holds the medallion he gave her, confirmed by its metallic thud when dropped onto a table.

“I don’t want the spectator to have any other explanation,” Varela told me before the show. “They can’t say it happened so fast I didn’t see it. I want them to have no defence for the astonishment. I want the impossible to be a little more impossible.”

It took him 10 years to develop the show, which began as a way to share magic with people who are blind (the Luminato Festival performance is presented in collaboration with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind).

Over time it became a show for anyone, using blindfolds to allow the performance to take place inside the minds of the audience. That’s why Michael Weber, the director of the Canadian premiere of “From the Dark” ensures the theatre is never seen at all.

For Varela, the challenge is giving up the control of sight, being unable to study the faces of his audience and relying on their vocal cues.

As an illusionist he demands trust from the audience. But when you are all blindfolded, the trust has to go both ways.

And trust me, under your very nose, something does vanish.


Last chance!

Varela is performing this unique experience, From The Dark, as part of the Mind Over Matter magic series for Luminato 2012. Magicana is delighted to be presenting this Canadian premier under the direction of Michael Weber.

The show plays Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Hart House Theatre, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto. It lasts 75 minutes with no intermission. Admission is $35. Limited seats available. UofTtix Box Office / 416.978.8849 /www.uofttix.ca

 

Redefining Magic: Cadence Canada talks to the artists of “From the Dark”

15 Jun

A magic show in the dark?

“It doesn’t start the moment I start speaking. It starts the moment you surrender yourself to the idea, or even before then, when you make the conscious effort to come. Thinking about it, imagining it. And hopefully it doesn’t end when I stop talking. Ideally the magic, the experience, will last long after.” – Juan Esteban Varela

The magician behind the groundbreaking show, From the DarkJuan Esteban Varela and its director, Michael Weber  (also known for his work with The PrestigeThe Illusionist, and Oceans 13) sat down with Asif Hameed, reporter for Cadence Canada.

They breach numerous topics, such as the sister of the Spanish King personally thanking Juan for making her realize what vanishing truly means through his performance, the ten years it took to create an art form that challenges preconceived notions of the magic experience, and the intense love and passion that came with it.

Read the entire interview…

Experience magic at its most intimate form

From the Dark (directed by Michael Weber, starring Juan Esteban Varela), runs June 15–16 @ 8:00 PM and June 17 @ 2:00 PM as part of the Mind Over Matter magic series for Luminato at the Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House Circle).

Ticket information: www.luminato.com

To order tickets by phone, call: 416-368-4TIX/416-368-4849. Tickets also available from Hart House box office (www.uofttix.ca)

Luminato Discount Offer

2 May

Magic enthusiasts: a special offer* just for you!

We are presenting Mind Over Matter with Luminato and we have just arranged a special  10% discount.

Use this link to BUY and SAVE NOW

Or, call 416-368-4849/4TIX (Password MAGICANA).

June 8 – 9 at 8PM, June 10 at 2PM, Fleck Dance Theatre
$35.00 – $45.00 

SPECIAL: USE THIS LINK TO SAVE!

THE ALPHA PROJECT is the world premiere of Banachek’s astonishing new show. It features psychokinesis, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, hypnotism, séances and, perhaps most amazing, dermaoptics—the magic of sensing without sight. Often described as the world’s greatest mentalist, British-born Banachek earned international headlines at the age of 18, when after four years of close examination the scientists at the Washington University declared him a genuine psychic. He later revealed he had fooled the experts, debunking their entire study.

“The strangest thing I have ever seen, amazing!” – William Shatner

June 11 at 5:30 PM, June 12 – 14 at 7:15 PM, The RBC Lobby at TIFF Bell Lightbox

FREE Event!

As charming and funny as he is thrilling, Richard Turner’s abilities to manipulate cards in THE CHEAT leaves audiences utterly astonished and completely dumbfounded. Turner isn’t just a card cheat, he’s a blind card cheat. The Texas-born Turner is a master card mechanic who has entranced such legends as Muhammad Ali, Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, and more recently, Brad Pitt. With the ability to wipe out any high stakes gambler, Turner’s finger sensitivity is so acute that United States Playing Card Company employs him as a “touch analyst” to test the texture and flexibility of its decks. 

June 15 – 16 at 8PM, June 17 at 2PM, Hart House Theatre
$35.00

SPECIALUSE THIS LINK TO SAVE!

Can the non-sighted experience the same sense of astonishment that a sighted audience feels when witnessing magic? So asked Chilean magician Juan Esteban Varela. FROM THE DARK is a unique and interactive experience that takes place in complete darkness. After blindfolding spectators and providing them with a box of props, Varela directs the audience in the dark and creates magical feats – and the experience of a magic show – without the audience seeing it, proving that, as long as a person has the ability to imagine, they can use fantasy to create fiction.

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* This is a limited time offer only. Offer is valid until 11:59PM Sunday May 20, 2012 for online sales only. Phone lines are open Monday to Friday 11am – 7pm and Saturdays 11am to 3pm; the offer is only valid until 4pm on Saturday May 19, 2012.

Offer is subject to availability. Offer cannot be applied to previously purchased tickets or combined with any other offers or promotions.

Call for Volunteers!

20 Apr

Be A Part of Magic!

Seeking volunteer magicians/performers for a Luminato show.

No experience required.

Can the non-sighted experience the same sense of astonishment that those with sight feel when witnessing magic? For Chilean magician Juan Esteban Varela, anyone with an imagination can transform fantasy into reality. In From the Dark, he does just that. Each audience member is blindfolded, provided with a box of props and then, individually and collectively, directed by him to create magical feats. It is a unique and thrilling experience.

We are looking for volunteer magicians/performers to help make the magic happen!

From the Dark offers audiences the chance to experience magic through touch, sound and smell, but it relies on assistants to work with small groups of audience members, providing instruction and assisting in the execution of the tricks.

Volunteers will be needed for:

–       one training session in advance of the festival (May 26, 29 or June 5)

–       Friday, June 15, 2PM-10:30PM

–       Saturday, June 16, 7PM-10:30PM

–       Sunday, June 17, 1PM-4:30PM

Volunteers must be 18 years or older and should have an interest in magic or theatre, be strong public speakers and have a passion for performance. A background in magic or theatre is an asset. Please note: Volunteers will be working in the dark (with small flashlights) and must be comfortable in this environment.

To apply for this position, please send an email to Mitchell (mmarcus@luminato.com) with your resume by 5pm on May 11. Please include a contact number and a brief (100 words or less) description of your theatre/magic background and your interest in this position.

Please note that this is a Toronto-based opportunity, meaning all training and actual volunteering will be held in Toronto. Call times subject to change.

Get your Luminato Tickets now!

19 Apr

Click here to download the full Luminato 2012 brochure

Luminato tickets can now be purchased by the general public, bringing you one step closer to Toronto’s  electrifying festival.

Magicana is proud to present three enthralling, cutting-edge shows that will surely challenge the way you perceive the world.

1. THE ALPHA PROJECT

June 8, 9 @8PM, June 10 @2PM
Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay West

Tickets: $35, $45

Is it real or make believe?

Many believe they have experienced the paranormal, but are there invisible connections that exist between us? Can we transcend the distinctions between past, present and future? Banachek is a real mentalist the only one declared by a team of scientists at Washington University as a genuine psychic.

But is he?

Banachek’s Alpha Project is his story, and the story of his exploration of telepathy, spirit channeling, ESP, prediction, metal bending, psychokinesis and past life regression.

In The Alpha Project, Banachek reveals the beauty and danger of make believe.

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes, including intermission.

BUY TICKETS

2. RICHARD TURNER: THE CHEAT

June 11 @ 5:30 PM, June 12–14 @ 7:15 PM
The RBC Lobby at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West

Tickets: Free

Can you beat The Cheat?

Richard Turner is known as “The Cheat”, a card cheat.

What makes Richard extraordinary, however, is that he is a blind card cheat.  He uses his mind to enable his hands to perform pure magic. Richard has developed his sense of touch to the point where he can perform miracles with cards.

For Luminato, Richard will present his tour-de-force demonstration in card table artifice.

Running Time: 45 minutes , no intermission.

FREE EVENT

3. FROM THE DARK

June 15–16 @ 8:00 PM, June 17 @ 2:00 PM
Hart House Theatre, 7 Hart House Circle

Tickets: $35

Just close your eyes.

Interested in magic since the age of 6 and a professional magician since the age of 20, Juan Esteban Varela, hailing  from Santiago, Chile asked the question: is it possible for non-sighted people to experience the same sense of astonishment that sighted audiences have felt for centuries while in the presence of a magician?

The result: From the Dark — the only magic show in the world that takes place in absolute darkness. Conceived for people unable to see, as well as for  adults who can see (but who are blindfolded for the performance), From the Dark invites the public to witness the possibility of being astonished and experience live magic without using their sight.

Running time: 105 minutes with an intermission.

BUY TICKETS

Luminato Advance Tickets

11 Apr

Luminato 2012 - Mind over matter

As a valued supporter of the magic community, we would like to extend the opportunity to buy advance tickets for Luminato 2012, before they go on sale to the general public on April 14.

From now to April 13, pre-sale tickets can be purchased online via the special BUY TICKETS links located throughout this blog (or by phone at 416-368-4849). Please use the code SEASONS for phone-based orders. Not only will you be able to purchase tickets for the magic programs (see below), but you will also have access to ALL Luminato ticketed events.

MIND OVER MATTER

This year, Magicana is proud to present three unique shows that will surely defy previously-perceived notions of the world.

The Alpha Project – World Premiere

BUY TICKETS (Scroll to find The Alpha Project)

Crowned as a genuine psychic by scientists at Washington University after four years of close observation (and then, successfully debunking them), Banachek certainly knows how to grab your attention. In his new show, he will perform psychokinesis, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, hypnotism, séances and perhaps most astonishing, dermaoptics – the magic of sensing without sight.

Read more about this show.


From The Dark

Presented in collaboration with the CNIB

BUY TICKETS (Scroll to find From The Dark)

Join Juan Esteban Varela as he brings you through an experiential journey where he transforms fantasy into reality – inside his unique show of how the non-sighted experience magic. Each audience member is blindfolded and given a box of props to create magic under his direction. Just close your eyes …

Read more about this show.

The Cheat

FREE EVENT

Richard Turner is a card cheat, a blind one, who uses his mind to enable his hands to perform pure magic. His prowess with the pasteboard will leave you bewitched and bewildered.

Find our more about this show
and where to see it!

Be prepared to experience magic like you’ve never seen before!

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