I joined the College of Magic 32 years ago; and never realised how this was going to mould my life ahead.
We were still based in the Plumstead premises in those days, and the walls of the College became my second home. I loved being a part of this institution, and looked for reasons to stay longer after class; joining the ACE club, volunteering to catalogue the then Video files, joining with all the fundraisers and activities that were planned. I was involved with the Muizenberg Mardi Gras, and the Guinness Book of Records Challenge. And the wonderful people I met along the way – the Thespians happiest on the stage, the shy ones whom bloomed with guidance, the comics, the skilled card manipulators, the mentors: now lifelong friends, no matter where in the world they find themselves these days. These were truly happy carefree days, the highlight of course, Saturday mornings.
I was one of the older students in my course one class, giving me a little bit of an unfair advantage. I consumed the information taught, and was able to apply myself to presenting quite entertaining stage shows. Manipulation did not come as easily, but I was able to reach an acceptable level of close-up magic. Half way through my magic studies the first JMD course joined up with us and levelled the playing field for me with students my own age competing with me for top positions. I bored my family and my closest friends with many repetitions of the sponge balls, six-card repeat (still my favourite card trick), and the professors nightmare rope trick. To this day, they still groan if I offer to show them one of these tricks. I was mesmerized by silks and doves – the grace and beauty of these routines.
We survived temporary premises in “The Atrium” in Claremont, until we were able to find our forever home in The Magical Arts Centre. I was one of the first course six’s that graduated from the new premises. We still had a spectacular army tank on our front lawn then, and parts of the balcony were deemed unsafe until made structurally sound. This beautiful old building is now home to many more students, and the facilities are more professional, but I still think fondly of my beginnings in magic. We have a unique situation with our College of Magic, and this attracts magicians from all over the world. I have been lucky enough to meet many famous magicians who are household names, and the ones that are held in high esteem by only other magicians. Our local magicians themselves are travelling and making names for themselves in the rest of the world too.
Aside from the wonderment of learning “magic” and the joy of being able to astound others with my craft, I was also learning valuable life lessons – confidence, public speaking, acceptance and learning from criticism, dealing with the strangers, learning to manage unpredictable circumstances, and playing to your audience. These are the valuable life skills that we as students of the College of Magic get to take with us when we graduate whether we chose to continue our magical careers or not.
The art of conjuring also can steal a little of your soul; it takes a tremendous effort not to see how it is done, but to relax back and enjoy the entertainment. I still get a thrill from the gasps of audience members when they are fooled by this beautiful trickery. I love how the young and upcoming entertainers are take things to the next level these days; Amateur magicians at the College of Magic are pretty slick!
Graduating from The College of Magic with my silver medallion, I still couldn’t get enough, and joined The Cape Magicians Circle (where I am still a member today). I was so nervous; the formalities and smartness of these adult magicians. I needed had worried, they were still my people, and I moved into a new circle of learning.
Although my life has moved away from the Art of Magic, I still define myself with my magical roots as a past student of the College of Magic, and a member of the Cape Magicians Circle. I seldom entertain people with my magic tricks these days, but I’m still using all the other skills I learnt. I am a healthcare worker, a wife and mother to two small boys – the youngest who was born with a rare genetic condition. I am an advocate and voice for Rare Diseases, South Africa. I run a support group and motivational speak about our success in navigating the rare disease world.
I hope that one day when my life quietens down that I shall return to this ancient and beautiful art of Conjuring. It is amazing how it has transformed and kept relevant with modern times. It morphs and recreates itself – a little like we all do through our own lives.