Sorcerers of Showmanship

Surjaditya Sarkar | Mercury Staff

In a dark auditorium, magicians command the stage with cards in hand, choosing audience members to be the guinea pigs of the classic trick “is this your card?” The annual magic show hosted by the UTD magic club created an inviting atmosphere full of laughter and bewilderment that left spectators intrigued as to the secrets of these enchanting talents. On Nov. 11, the UTD magic club had their fall magic show in Artemis Hall, bringing attention to the club and the fun it can offer to new members. The magic club has around 50 active students ranging from amateurs to experienced magicians, and every meeting is an opportunity for members to ask questions, work on their tricks or just hang out.

David Howe, a junior in interdisciplinary studies, is an officer of the magic club and joined the magic club about a year ago after seeing them perform in the Student Union. These tricks included the magician figuring out which card you chose from a pile or illusionist-type of tricks, like turning cards from red to black.

“I’ve always liked magic,” Howe said. “I think I was watching America’s Got Talent just watching people do magic tricks and I was like ‘That’s super cool. I wonder how that works.’ I figured out how some super simple tricks work and then just did [magic tricks] for friends.”

Although a deceiving magic trick can leave a crowd bewildered, it‘s not the only thing that is required of a magician. Howe said that showmanship is more than just a magician’s tricks and also requires confidence, knowing your audience and ensuring they are having a good time.

“If people want to pay attention to you and magic is the reason why they’re there, it makes doing [magic] more enjoyable,” Howe said. “Having a good show face, a good show voice, being confident, knowing what you’re going to say … really makes the experience a lot more enjoyable.”

Kyle Poulson, computer science junior and president of the club, agreed with Howe’s outlook on showmanship and the importance of it when performing magic. Despite the numerous videos online that teach the practical side of magic, Paulson said they rarely ever teach beginners how to actually perform for an audience.

“There’s not as much info about improving theatrics, such as interacting with an audience, and even today there’s still many closely guarded magic secrets,” Poulson said. “Our aim in each of our meetings is to not only show off some pretty cool tricks, but to also guide members on creating their own impressive routines that are unique to their style.”

Howe always keeps a deck of cards on him in case he wants to perform a trick spontaneously — like he did for us at The Mercury.He fanned out a deck of cards, had us pick one and he had to guess the card we picked. Throughout the entire trick, he kept us engaged through banter and crowd interaction.

“I really make a big deal about making sure that your audience enjoys the trick,” Howe said.

Sudin Rajbanshi, a computer science junior, said they enjoy the presence of a magic club at UTD thanks to the fun and free entertainment for passing students.

“We do tabling, so when people are at lunch, they can just watch magic for free,” Rajbanshi said. “I know there’s a lot of people selling food or advertising, but if they want something fun, they can just pass through.”

The magic club is open to anyone wanting to learn tricks, with meetings in the SSA building on Wednesday nights. Each meeting has a loose lesson plan that trains members in new skills, including sleight of hand or feeling confident while performing for an audience. The club can also be seen performing every Monday at 2 p.m. in the Student Union. The club is available through their Instagram, @magicutdallas, which has a link to their Discord server and YouTube channel.

“People of any skill level are welcome, so it’s mainly a time for learning something new, asking questions and hanging out,” Poulson said.

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