In today’s online world, so-called “magic” is easy. Technological tricks can make anything disappear or transform with a few clicks of the mouse. But when a small band of magicians present “The Conjurors’ Club” with the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), they will be sticking to the basics, keeping their online presentation as intimate — and as real — as possible.
This intimacy, say the conjurors behind “The Conjurors’ Club,” which begins March 12, is fundamental to what they do. “Without an audience, magic cannot happen. It’s just a person alone in a room doing fancy choreography,” said performer and magician Geoff Kanick, one of the show’s two co-creators, during a Zoom interview.
Originally presented as an in-person show in New York in 2017, “The Conjurors’ Club” was conceived as a melding of magic and immersive theater. “We wanted to combine those worlds and have a place where you can see magic from 360 degrees,” Vinny DePonto, the show’s other co-creator and a mentalist (or mind reader), explained from his home library. The result was a site-specific entertainment where magicians performed in elevators and even underneath the stage. The point, DePonto said, was “access to magicians that you don’t typically get in a perfectly constructed proscenium,” making the magic feel fresh and unexpected.
Adapting that kind of access for an online performance took some rejiggering. (“I had to figure out how to read minds through a screen,” said DePonto.) It also fit well with the A.R.T.’s ongoing efforts to reach — and even build — audiences in this socially isolated time, such as the ongoing “Behind the Scenes” series, which continues on March 16 with “The Weeping Camel,” the weekly Lunch Room talks, the new series A.R.T. Travels, and ongoing streaming performances through Virtually Oberon, including “Hype Man” beginning April 8.