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What I Learned During Lockdown
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For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Washington, DC
Thursday, July 15, 2021


By Eric Henning

As we emerge from both lockdown and the worst of the pandemic (fingers crossed), I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at what magicians in general, and our Washington Magic team in particular, have dealt with this past year and a half.


Probably the biggest difference was not having live audiences in the room. Magic is an intimate medium, and ideally must be experienced in person. Magic on TV is fine, but it just doesn’t have the same immediacy of something that happens in real time right in front of your eyes, even in your own hands. In this age of technology, live entertainment is the only thing that can compete with the magic that’s at our fingertips every day.

So the natural thing we magicians did was to adapt. We used Zoom and other remote means of communicating. We had to become TV producers almost instantly. And we changed the nature of the magic we were doing.

We had to come up with really great visuals that fit into a really small frame. The magic had to be convincing even if the audience couldn’t handle the props. This required a great deal of creative thinking. And we had to process a lot of information very quickly. We had to learn about lighting, sound, camera techniques, the fact that your iPhone microphone will pick up every little sound in the entire house. It was exhausting.

But within a few weeks, many magicians were doing amazing shows on Zoom. And they were making contact, real contact, with people who felt isolated and anxious.

Be honest, when you knew you were going to be in lockdown what was your first response? You probably beefed up your playlists on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. Maybe you added Disney Plus for the kids. You hunted down entertainment, because you   knew you were going to have a great deal of time on your hands.

How ironic that the live entertainment industry was crumbling while the demand for recorded entertainment was greater than ever!


Here at Washington Magic, we thrive on our live dinner shows, done in the inimitable surroundings of the Arts Club of Washington. You simply can’t replicate that online. It’s completely impossible.

So what could we do?

We got together our team and decided on a plan. First, we wanted to reach out to our audience and give them whatever enjoyment, distraction, and stress release we could. And we wanted to let as many people know about the show as possible, so that when we reopen (in September), we will have built a loyal audience who had followed us throughout the pandemic.

So we decided to do semi-regular online shows. Each performer videoed their segments at home. Most of us used our smart phones, which are often the best cameras available to us. We learned how to coordinate music and lighting to make something that looked really good. Most importantly, we watched ourselves with more precision and intensity than ever before.


There’s an old joke among magicians, that we need to videotape ourselves in order to improve. When you see yourself on video for the first time it could be rather traumatic. I always tell my students, “Once the paramedics have revived you, it’s time to get to work.” Having to create a solid three to five minute performance on video forced us to refine our material, improving our magic, our writing, and our stage presence faster than ever before.

And we were working on new material much faster than ever before. Doing take after take until

it was right made us drill down into tiny details, I know that I personally saw my magic level up more than once this past year and a half. And I can’t wait to go live so that you can see what I and my colleagues here at Washington Magic have learned.


We also learned just how much we missed the Arts Club. With its unparalleled elegance and atmosphere, the Arts Club of Washington is one of the characters in the show, an essential part of the team. And now that they have a new chef hired from the French Embassy, the food will be spectacular. That’s why we’re taping our final online show this week at the Arts Club of Washington, to give you a taste of what we have in store for you.

It’s now reopened, but during the the last fifteen months, the Arts Club of Washington was closed; what could we do? We decided to raise money for them. When you go to our website and look at the previously broadcast online shows, there’s a big

button to donate to the Arts Club of Washington. We encourage you to contribute as liberally to their relief as you can without injury to yourself.

ERIC HENNING is a full-time magician, MC and speaker. His website is https:// capitolconjuror.com/

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