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The Theater of Magic

The Theater of Magic

Magician Bryan Lambe talks about the theater of illusion

Bryan Lambe has many skills; he sings, he acts, but he’ll tell you himself that magic is his true passion. His “Dirty Magic” routine will be featured in Self-Serve’s anniversary party, and I talked to him to learn a bit more.

Is magic a type of theater?

Bryan Lambe: Magic is definitely a type of theater. There is a very old magician named [Jean Eugene] Robert-Houdin, who said, “A magician is an actor playing the part of a magician.” I believe that very much to be true. When you get on stage, you want to make people believe that something impossible is possible. So, I believe that it should be regarded as a type of theater.

Do you do close-up magic or big illusions?

I started by doing close up magic. Small stuff, working with coins, pens – basic small items. It wasn’t till late 2013 that I started wanting to do bigger effects. I wanted to do something for 30, 50 people or even more. I do fairly large tricks, in the sense that they can fill up a stage. Last year, I played Leather Fiesta, so the audience was 150-200 people and the trick that I did was small enough to fit into a breast pocket. I’m able to do a whole set, 20 to 30 minutes, with everything in my jacket. So, my props might not big, but my tricks fill up a stage.

Do you have a preference for the type of magic you do?

I do have a preference, I love doing effects that shock people. When I get on stage, I’m to the nines; white shirt, suit jacket, black suspenders, tie and I look very non-threatening. But I like to do shocking things like fire-eating, eating glass – sideshow sort of stuff. I’ll do it as my penultimate trick; but first you’ll see me telling jokes, doing card tricks, and then suddenly I’m putting  glass in my face. I do magic specifically for the reaction it gives. They’ll do the non-verbal gasp, or they’ll be too shocked to respond at all. I love that.

Would you ever do grand illusions?

I would love to do big illusions, but I’ve gotten so used to doing a show from inside a suitcase it’s hard to break out of it. My upbringing is from the magic shop on Central [Max’s Magic Shop], with Max Krause and Chris Zaccara as my mentors. Anyway, the shop has books and effects for audiences that show how to build big props and saw people in half and stuff like that. But it’s gotten to the point where I like being my own boss, and being a reliable performer. Eventually, I’d like to have some grand illusions.


See Bryan Lambe perform at Self Serve’s “Ten Years of Loving” party on Feb. 4 at Effex Nightclub (420 Central Ave SW). For more information, click here.

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Ashley Kurtz is a freelance theater critic.

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