While in Spain, Jonah sat down with Fernando Figueras to discuss presentation, honesty in magic, and being a magic coach. Alongside being known for his rich and emotional presentation style, Fernando is also a magic coach who focuses on developing magicians’ practical performance skills.
At nineteen, Fernando was attending university for computer engineering. When he began to develop an interest in magic, he may have practiced his hacking to get into “secret” magician forums. As he delved into these forums, he began to realize magic went deeper than he first expected. He was hooked.
Fernando was never alone when learning magic. Rather than him sitting alone with a book, he attended clubs and sought out people with an itnerest in magic to develop his own skills. People warmly welcomed him, eventually becoming his ‘Maestro Amigos,’ or his mentor/friends, who lived and learned in magic with him.
Performing Magic in a Group
Fernando’s introduction to performing magic was alongside a group of magicians. Rather than a traditional approach to a magic show, Fernando and his friends created a weekly show with Monty Python-esque style of routines; at any given time, there would be at least two magicians on stage with each new scenario being woven into the preceding act. The plots were simple and their close team dynamic allowed them to create entertaining shows.
The overall goal of the show may have been to have fun, but Fernando points out he learned a lot from that experience. Roles. Blocking. Misdirection. Forgetting your ego and working with someone else to let them pull off a miracle.
For the past five years, Fernando has hosted a week long workshop at a cottage near Madrid, Spain. With class sizes limited to fifteen students, attendees will spend ten hours a day immersing themselves in the study of emotions, movement, creativity and metaphor in magic. There are no tricks, only practical instruction that students can apply to their overall performance.
Campus Magico started out of Fernando’s desire to share the experience he had learning magic in Spain: Magic, beer and fun. He explains that the students who have attended the workshop often leave with a new perspective and approach on magic; they realize that buying magic is not the way to improve, but deeply studying and dissecting tricks.
If you want genuine reactions, you need to be honest. Magic is an art in communication, and, through this art, you will be communicating a piece of yourself. If you’re not honest with who you are, or you don’t know who you are, it can be difficult to perform genuine magic. Fernando acknowledges that you will change as a person and feel different things at different points, but you have to be aware of these changes and how they affect your approach.
When you’re considering what sort of reaction you want from your audience, Fernando asks what is your definition of ‘reaction?’ It’s a given that you want the audience to be surprised as surprise and fascination is inherently embedded in magic; if you simply perform a trick without putting yourself into it, you didn’t really do anything to get a reaction – the trick did.
You cannot fully control the reactions of the audience; they’re going to react based on their mood and what they are willinging to take in from your magic. By being honest in what you want to express, you can let your emotions flow through your tricks. With that in mind, however, your magic should not turn into a group therapy session.
What do you like about modern magic? What don’t you like?
Fernando appreciates the level of dedication Miguel Munoz put into his FISM act; he had the honour of watching it evolve over the years as Miguel continues to polish it.
Take Home Point
Try to know yourself.