The art of deception?
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The art of deception?

Thailand's leading magicians take to the stage at M Theatre and hope to change local perspectives

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
The art of deception?
VK.Vich.

The image of a magician in Thailand is still a man in a tuxedo who pulls a rabbit out of a hat. However, five magicians -- Patrick Kun, Charles the French, Tada the Pad-Thai, Sagar Choksi and VK.Vich -- have tried to update this outdated image with modern performances that wow audiences. You can catch these five perform at "The Magicians: Thailand's Greatest Magic – Live In Bangkok 2024" at M Theatre on Saturday and Sunday.

VK.Vich, or Vichayut Kanungchoti, an illusionist and magician who collaborated with Get Live Management to organise this magic show, said that it is the second year these five magicians will perform together.

"I came up with this show because Thailand is our home and I wanted to create a phenomenon that will leave a deep impression on Thai audiences. When we return to Thailand after performing abroad, it is like we are in the wrong place because Thai people do not consider magic shows as art," said VK.Vich.

"I have held magic shows for eight years, starting from a solo show in a small theatre in Thong Lor. That was the first magic show in Thailand since no one had ever organised one before. After the show, I met new people who gave me positive energy and feedback. They told me that they had no idea that a magic show could be so much fun and they wanted to see more shows, but didn't know where to find them.

"I enjoyed being a show organiser. Last year, I aimed to reach a larger audience so I collaborated with Get Live Management and performed with four magicians whom I know personally. The 2023 shows were sold out and received fantastic feedback. This year, we decided to hold the show in a large theatre with similar seating capacity to that of a Broadway theatre."

From left, Charles the French, Patrick Kun, Sagar Choksi, VK.Vich and Tada the Pad-Thai.

Due to the larger venue, audiences can now expect to see magic acts on a larger scale.

"There will be new shows on a scale we have never created before. There will also be a performance which requires equipment we designed ourselves. This is a brand-new apparatus designed by Thai magicians," said VK.Vich.

Tada the Pad-Thai, one of the magicians, claimed this show will gather all styles of magic in one place.

"Audiences can expect to see all types of magic. This is not only a showcase stage, but a variety show. Guests will experience illusion, bird magic, mental magic, card magic and coin magic. It's literally all styles of magic in one show," he said.

Young-Min is a guest performer and sand illusionist from South Korea who won first prize at the FISM World Championship of Magic in 2015.

"Young-Min's show at the World Championship of Magic in 2015 was accepted as one of the best performances. He will bring this seven-minute show to Bangkok and it will be an unforgettable seven minutes for audiences," said VK.Vich.

Among magicians, Patrick Kun may be the most familiar face since he appeared in the global series America's Got Talent Season 16 in the audition round. He also worked as a consultant for world-renowned magician David Copperfield for a year. Patrick was interested in magic since the age of 15 when he studied in the US and his friend gave him a video tape of magic acts. Magic helped him connect to people and became a popular student at school.

Sagar Choksi

"I worked with Copperfield seven days a week for a year at Magic Lab, which is where we experimented with new ideas. For example, Copperfield wanted to fly in the sky. We had to ascertain what kind of equipment we could use to make his idea happen. Copperfield is a perfectionist who has worked non-stop which has made him who he is today. In every meeting, he always pushed the limit further," said Patrick.

VK.Vich is a pioneer of creating theatrical magic shows in Thailand. He has participated in and won many magic competitions.

"Participating in competitions allowed me to meet top magicians who were there as guest performers," he said.

"Some competitions also held workshops or lectures. It was a time when I could exchange ideas and learned from other magicians. My proudest act is called 'Alchemist', based on the storyline of the novel The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde. I received great feedback for the performance; many people said it was a modern magic show. I also won the Crystal Award at the BMC World Performing Arts 2018 in France for this performance."

The mentalist and illusionist Sagar Choksi has more than 20 years of experience in mind reading and is known for his mastery of mentalism and sleight of hand artistry. This year, Sagar will be a Thai representative at the FISM World Championship of Magic, which is considered the Olympics for magicians.

Patrick Kun.

Charles the French and Tada the Pad-Thai are a duo who describe their performance as "silly yet amazing". Onstage, Charles plays a comedic character while Tada plays a serious character. Their performances are full of humour and entertainment.

With decades of experience, these five magicians can blow audiences away with their performances. However, the culture of watching magic in Thailand is different from that of developed countries. There are many magic shows in Las Vegas and New York and watching a magic show is a normal activity that many people do when they go out. Charles, a Thai-French magician, also said that French people support magic shows.

Patrick said they received different reactions from Thai audiences since they think magic shows are deceiving. This attitude differs from international audiences who are usually amazed. Charles said that dealing with this attitude from Thai audiences is challenging.

"Magic shows aren't like other art forms since we go in front of people literally telling them that I'm going to deceive you and I'm going to do something you will not understand. We have to find a way to make it entertaining so that people are not too defensive about trying to figure it out and get annoyed with us. We've seen many annoyed guests and we try to make everyone enjoy what they see even though we are deceiving them," explained Charles.

When asked about their goals as magicians, most of them said they want to perform more. Patrick revealed that he will perform with Bodyslam, a Thai rock band, at Impact Arena from June 20-23. His act will be a part of the live music performance which will take magic shows to another level.

Inspired by a magic show in the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, Sagar is trying to hold magic shows in a Bangkok hotel. He hopes this show will be an attraction for tourists.

Tada the Pad-Thai (left) and Charles the French.

To amaze audiences, magicians have to keep the secrets of their acts, but Tada said they are bad at keeping secrets among fellow magicians.

"When it comes to magicians working together, and friends, we share secrets. Sometimes, we may trade secrets, but the best secrets we keep to ourselves."

"The Magicians Thailand's Greatest Magic – Live In Bangkok 2024" will take place at M Theatre (Phetchaburi Road) on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost 1,200, 1,500, 1,800 and 3,000 baht and are available at thaiticketmajor.com. For more information about the show, contact 02-090-2902.

Young-min.

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