Producing rabbits from hats no longer a magical mystery

Never have magicians conjured up so much activity as in recent years. They’ve rolled into Athens from every corner of the world carrying lofty reputations – without exception – for their abilities. The media bombard us with promotional campaigns along the lines of «If Houdini astounded you, or Copperfield captivated you, then so-and-so will mesmerize you,» or «The world’s best magician is on his or her way to Athens.» I was thinking about all this on my way to meet Italian magician Gaetano Triggiano – the latest arrival – who will present his show «Tablo» at the Badminton Theater in Goudi, starting Wednesday. «My performance approaches magic in a new way,» said the 30-year-old Italian. «It’s not a one-man show. I’m not interested in impressing the audience with simple magical tricks. I’m not a David Copperfield and don’t aspire to be, either. I wanted to create something different,» he continued. It seems that traditional magic tricks no longer seem to inspire younger acts. Superstar David Copperfield could also be said to be in the twilight of his career. This shrewd and tireless artist, a specialist of minute detail and marketing techniques, no longer stands as a challenge to newer magicians. There was a time when aspiring magicians considered the self-taught American magician a god. He started off as an escape artist and went on to become the most commercially successful act in history with earnings slated at a billion dollars over the past decade. Deciphering his tricks reached the point of obsession. How on earth did he manage to walk through the Great Wall of China or make the Statue of Liberty disappear? Copperfield even made it to Hollywood. And now? «Performing a routine is not enough to captivate,» said Triggiano. «You need to stir up a variety of emotions in the audience. ‘Tablo’ is a game of seduction. Driven by illusions, it stirs up a mixture of memories, feelings and fantasy. It entertains and moves. It’s based on a script I wrote about a love story that develops on stage with nine dancers and 12 actors.» An artist, alone in his room, relives lost love which leads him to magical worlds beyond time and place, Triggiano explained. His search for that woman, that love, acts as the driving force of the journey which, audiences eventually realize, takes place in the artist’s imagination. It is all accompanied by atmospheric music written by Angelo Talocci, exceptional choreography and impressive costumes. «This show is not about emotion that conjures up tricks, but the emotions of a story where illusion links the scenes that take place before the audience,» commented Triggiano. «When I decided to drop out of technical university for magic, I learnt its secrets from one of the field’s great masters, Arturo Brachetti. But I never intended to present just that. I learnt the technique to use it as part of a web of artistic fields that I love.» «Tablo» is a production for «the entire family,» Triggiano says. «It impresses youngsters, but I believe it also troubles grownups. Don’t start imagining that it raises philosophical questions. It simply sends out messages,» said the Italian magician. Promising that his production was novel, Triggiano stressed the importance of innovation, far from conventional norms, in his field. Both worthy and unworthy productions have been presented in recent years in the «family entertainment» category, spurred by this market’s promise of money. This new form of entertainment is now nearing the end of the first stage of its life. A clearer picture is beginning to set in, audiences are better prepared, more demanding, and have less money to spend, meaning that they don’t succumb so easily. Triggiano agreed and noted that «in the era of television you need to offer something that’s extremely unique to win over audiences.» It remains to be seen whether he will succeed.