The Secret Room Secrets
My show for the Edinburgh International Magic Festival 2017 was part of “The Secret Room” at Lauriston Castle, Edinburgh.
I welcomed guests to The Study – A room steeped in history and mystery. Playing the role of Mystery Tour Guide (and not a magician from Edinburgh!), I explained that it is easy to get a feel for a place based on the things that we can see, however it is the things that are less obvious and things we cannot see that create the feeling of mystery. I directed the attention of our guests to something mysterious and fascinating that was hiding in plain sight.
I explained that in the book, called “The History of Scottish Philosophy”, the author George Campbell suggests that our environment can affect the decisions we make. So, the question I proposed was this:
Is it possible that a place such as Lauriston Castle – can affect our choices?
We began our journey with a quest: a spectator had a free choice of identical envelopes, each containing a different outcome. Choose the wrong envelope and the quest for everyone would be over… Followed by an uncomfortable and awkward silence for the following 13 minutes! No pressure! Some of the indifferent choices included the following:
- You have been found playing golf on the croquet lawn. End of Quest.
- You have had an argument in the Japanese friendship garden. End of Quest.
- You have mistakenly thought that the southern Italian furniture was from Ikea. End of Quest.
If the correct choice was chosen, then there would be reference made to the stone tablet found on the south-side of the Lauriston Castle building. The tablet, built into the wall, was an Astrological chart designed by John Napier – a famous Scottish mathematician.
This provided the premise for what was to follow.
The Astrological chart of divination (or Horoscope) dates back to ancient times and is based on the positioning of the moon, sun and planets. The constant movement of the planets means that the charts were sensitive to angles – hence the square within a diamond. With maths and numbers being at the very heart of astrology, mathematicians such as Pythagoras and John Napier believed that all objects and interactions had numerical relationships.
Would this prove to be true? Would our Astrological Chart be the divination between numbers and the choices made?
Only our guests of The Secret Room would find out.
Moving on, I explained that a standard deck of playing cards are derived from Tarot cards and, coincidentally, they also seem to tally with the Gregorian calendar: 52 cards in a deck represent the weeks of the year. The deck is made up 4 suits that represent each season of the year. Each suit has 13 cards that represent the 13 lunar cycles. If you add up all the spots in a deck, including the joker, that comes to 365. Coincidence? I’m not so sure!
In other words, a deck of playing cards where the perfect tool to help us complete our quest. A free card was then chosen by the audience. Not in a traditional sense, in that a card was selected from a pack, but by asking individual members of the audience to provide the information (value, colour and suit) they thought about. Each of the cards in this deck represented a week of the year that a famous Scot – past or present – was born on. A famous person was chosen and our own Horoscope was completed.
This is a type of magic and performance that I absolutely love to do. The magic is in the meaning and the meaning is magical. It takes time to put something like this together. It requires research and the bringing together of knowledge – old and new – that really gets the creative juices flowing. It is then a case of finely crafting the show before having the pleasure of perform it for people. I really find this whole experience challenging, invigorating and wonderfully satisfying.
Naturally, the show finished with a twist. I can’t tell you what that twist was but, the secret of The Secret Room is in the origins of the word Horoscope.
If you have a venue or theme for which you would like to create a show, then please do get in touch and I would be delighted to discuss it with you. Feel free to check out my Creative Magician Solutions page and you can Contact me here.