No one really enjoys being tricked, so why is it that humans have had such a long love affair with magic? Perhaps it is just a matter of perspective – literally.
As far back as ancient times, performers have been skilfully employing sleight of hand and other illusory techniques to captivate audiences the world over. And most spectators, from paupers to kings, seem willing to suspend reality, if only for a while, and believe that they are witness to the impossible.
The history of magic in the North-east dates back to the early 1800s when John Henry Anderson, dubbed the Great Wizard of the North, took magic off the streets and into the theatres, with eye-popping illusions like the bullet catch. Since then, magicians of all disciplines have made their name in Aberdeen and most have been members of the Aberdeen Magical Society, the oldest group of its kind in Scotland.
Founded in 1926, the Aberdeen Magical Society was first run by William Gordon Craigen, a respected and influential magician who ironically split his time between the stage and the court house, as a successful lawyer. In the 90 years since its beginnings only nine others besides Craigen have held the honoured role of Society President, all seeking to preserve a craft which must simultaneously hold true to its past while constantly modernising to assure its future.
Today, the Aberdeen Magical Society boasts mentalists, illusionists, balloon artists, comic performers, double acts and even one of Aberdeen’s top female magicians. Some members perform magic as a beloved addition to their day jobs while others have built successful careers out of it, and all have helped make this cherished performance art a regular feature at most events in the city.
After 90 years in existence, the Aberdeen Magical Society is still going strong and will be celebrating with an Anniversary Dinner in October, hosted by current President Garry Seagraves and featuring many former members. A limited number of tickets will be made available to the public.