Interview 45. – Megan Swann

Lights

Megan is the Secretary of The Magic Circle, and is the youngest person to ever hold one of the top five officer roles in the society. Her unique ballet-themed stage act recently won first prize and the conventioneers trophy for originality at the International Brotherhood of Magicians (British Ring) Stage competition. She also holds a degree in wildlife conservation, a passion which she has combined with her magic in her new Environmental magic show!

Twitter: @meganswannmagic

www.meganswann.co.uk


Describe something that has recently amazed you and how it made you feel.

I recently performed my new ‘Environmental Magic Show’ for the first time. Early on in the show I ask the children to suggest ways to save energy, and I was amazed at how many thoughtful suggestions they immediately came up with, and how keen they were to make a difference. One of my favourite suggestions was to ‘not make radioactive waste’, which I really had not expected to hear! Hearing the children be so engaged and able to think up great ways to help made me feel really positive and hopeful for the future of the planet.

 

How would you personally define wonder, awe and curiosity? And how do they relate to each other?

To me, wonder is a feeling of fascination at something that is remarkable. This is usually in the positive sense, but I think it can describe a more negative remarkable event too. Awe is similar, but also includes a feeling of great respect and admiration, for something that really makes you go “wow”. I think curiosity is slightly different as it a desire to know more about something, maybe how it works, or what it means. Wonder often inspires curiosity.

 

What inspires you to be creative?

I look to the things in my life that have meaning to me: The things I love to do (my hobbies and interests) and the people in my life. The natural world is one of my biggest inspirations, as I think it is inherently magical! So many interesting things happen on a daily basis and you can usually find something magical if you look for it!

 

Do you have any ‘rituals’ or an environment that aids your creativity?

The only thing I can think of is my notebooks. Whenever I’m working on a new routine, the first thing I do is find a notebook which looks the part (e.g. my Environmental Show notebook is very flowery!). The first few pages are usually covered with brainstorms around my general theme and outlining what I want to achieve before I start considering the magic effects. I also look up quotes which are relevant to the subject and write down the ones that appeal to me. This all helps me to stay focused as the routine progresses, and provides inspiration whenever I need it. It also means I have my ideas clearly mapped out if I need to shelve a routine and work on it again in the future.

 

What do you love about magic?

Everything!! I especially love coming up with ideas that give my magic routines a meaning or a story, giving them purpose and making them more unique.

 

What do you think hinders an audience from experiencing wonder when watching a magician?

Sometimes I think magicians do not present themselves in the best way possible, which can make it harder for the audience to enjoy. Some performers still use creepy or rude jokes which don’t always go down well. If the audience doesn’t like the magician then they don’t care about watching the magic. Too many people have been put off magic entirely thanks to one bad experience, so I think it is really important that all magicians think about what they say and do and if it really is funny, or if it might actually offend someone.

 

Where do you think our sense of wonder comes from and what can we do to cultivate it?

I think it comes from within us, and we cultivate it by choosing to surround ourselves with things we find wonder in. For example, I perform magic that I enjoy watching, and work on themes and routines based on things that I love, so I genuinely love the magic I perform. I often look to come up with routines about my other hobbies and interests, as that will mean I care more about what I am doing, and it gives me a great excuse to do some fun ‘research’. By focusing on things I find interesting, I get to actively cultivate my sense of wonder instead of looking at things that bore me, and hopefully that means that other people will enjoy watching my performances more too!


Megan


You were the first female officer to be elected at The Magic Circle. What are the challenges and opportunities for female magicians? Have you seen attitudes change over the years?

I think the main challenge is that stereotypical view that women aren’t  magicians. It’s a pet hate of mine when I meet new people at magic clubs/conventions who first assume I am not a magician, clearly because I am a woman. I get asked if I’m there with someone else, or if I want to see a ‘really simple card trick’ that even I could do. For me personally, I sometimes struggle to feel like I really fit in, but it helps that the magic world is one place in which being different is a good thing! I think attitudes have changed, especially as we have seen more younger members join who have grown up in a more equality focused world.

 

Dance, and particularly Ballet, has been an interest of yours for many years. How does that impact your magic performances?

I have always used dance in my stage acts as a way to make my magic different. I think it makes routines more interesting to add movement and a theme helps to give the act meaning. It’s also memorable, which is never a bad thing!

As I mentioned earlier, I look to my interests for inspiration when putting routine together. I think combining these makes your magic more unique and personal to you and you are more likely to love performing it, all of which will usually make the show better! My main focus now is looking at how I can bring my interest in environmental conservation into my magic and hopefully use it to do something meaningful.

 

You recently won the International Brotherhood of Magicians (British Ring) stage competition. How do you go about crafting an award winning act and is there a difference between magic for ‘lay people’ and magic for magicians?

I’ve been performing that act for a number of years, continually working to improve it where I can. For me, an act has to flow, not just be a collection of separate tricks, and it is the tiny details that make it polished and more effective. I enjoy working on the things that audience will never notice, but give the overall impression that the routine is well polished.

My act is designed with lay audiences in mind and doesn’t change when I perform for magicians. I think magicians can appreciate an act that is designed for lay people, especially when there is a level of originality involved. I do notice the difference in where and how loudly the different audiences applaud, as naturally lay audiences are more likely to react as there is more content that they haven’t seen before, but magicians can appreciate the more subtle details that lay audiences wouldn’t even consider.


What stood out for you? Any questions? Things you disagree with? Write a comment and join in the discussion.

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