|| August 4, 2010

bath_street_magic.jpgVisit any metropolitan city, and you’re sure to walk through the city’s main streets and squares to find people performing on the streets. From singers to mariachi bands and even to human statues, buskers take all shapes and forms and are there to perform for your loose change. One of the most entertaining forms of busking, however, is street magic. These magicians perform tricks against the gritty backdrop of the streets and this often influences the tone of the performance. From simple card tricks to feats of astonishing endurance, the spectrum of magic on the streets is wide and as varicoloured as the rainbow.

Historically, street magic has been around for approximately 3,000 years. The basics of this particular brand of magic hasn’t changed much over the years: magicians perform their tricks for passersby and then “send the hat round” after finishing his performance. Street magicians do their best to draw as large a crowd as possible to increase their chances of getting donations from spectators that were impressed. Some of the most popular types of tricks over the history of this type of magic are card tricks and sleight-of-hand tricks. Many people are more than willing to part with their loose change in order to be entertained for a few minutes.

Street magic today has experienced something of a resurgence because it’s been brought back into the public eye through several popular television specials highlighting this brand of magic. Magic hasn’t waned at all in its popularity in America since the time when Harry Houdini was escaping from death-defying situations, and there are plenty of eager young magicians flooding the streets in order to take advantage of America’s fascination with magic. And because this form of magic is so intimate, the amazement of the audience at the magicians’ feats is amplified.

There is an offshoot of traditional street magic called guerrilla magic that is causing quite a stir as well. It involves accosting unsuspecting passersby and performing tricks for them. The element of surprise and the fact that the spectators have no idea what to expect lend to the sense of shock and awe that the spectators feel when the trick is finally performed. Magicians like David Blaine and Criss Angel have taken magic and given it a darker, more dramatic feel. Whether you prefer traditional or guerrilla magic, you’d be hard pressed to find a better entertainment deal than a street magician.

Living close to the City of Bath I offen watch the street entertainers, buskers at Bath Abbey, this week I seen a caricaturist friend of mine Chrissy Marshall working the crowds.