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[InC-terview] 'International Magician of the Year' Cosentino

By InCinemas  /  14 Jul 2017 (Friday)
World-renowed magician Cosentino, winner of the prestigious 'International Magician of the Year' Merlin Award, is bringing his magic show 'Anything Is Possible' to Singapore. Ahead of the show's opening date in August, InCinemas spoke with him on his early days as a young magician as well as the challenges he faces.

InCinemas: What was it about magic and escapology that captured your attention as a child?

I got interested in magic when I was twelve years old. I was very shy, very introverted, had loads of self-esteem issues because I had a lot of learning difficulties in reading, writing, spelling. My mother was, and still is, a school principal, and I didn’t learn to read my first word until I was twelve years old. It was a very challenging time. But once I was in the library, I stumbled across a magic book. It was the Encyclopedia of Magic and it has all these beautiful pictures of famous magicians. And my mother across the room saw me with the book opened, and she came over and asked me what i was looking at. I pointed at a picture of Harry Houdini, the famous escapologist. Under his poster, it said “Nothing on earth can hold Houdini prisoner”. As a kid who was struggling with school, being picked on and bullied, this was a very interesting introduction. So we took the book home, and in the back of the book there were magic tricks. My mom would read these tricks to me, and i would listen to the instructions and it would help me understand the words, and through that process I would learn to read. My confidence and self-esteem also increased as a result. But I’d never seen a magician on TV, I’d never been to the theatre to see a magician. It all started that way and I became obsessed with magic because it helped build my self-esteem.

InCinemas: You mentioned Harry Houdini as your inspiration but you also mentioned the likes of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, who weren’t magicians. In what way are they your inspiration?

I’m inspired by people who are pioneers in their industry. Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire took singing and dancing to a new level and really pioneered that era. They were tremendous perfectionists who perfected their craft. Walt Disney, he took illustrating to a whole new level as well. Arnold Schwarzenegger with fitness and bodybuilding. Bruce Lee with martial arts. All these people that I aspire to be like are all pioneers in their craft. It doesn’t necessarily have to be magicians, but people who have done tremendous, wonderful things in their profession. they are the people that inspire me.

InCinemas: Tell us about your early days as a young magician, before you went on Australia's Got Talent in 2011?

It was very difficult. In Australia, I was the first Australian magician who had his own TV show, the first magician to make magic commercially viable. Before me, I had no one to look up to. There were only international magicians like David Copperfield or Houdini. So it was tough to make magic a profession because there was no one to follow. There was no blueprint. It was very hard to get people to understand and appreciate what I was doing. I worked very hard at honing my craft, ten shows a week for over ten years all over Australia in terrible conditions. And then i went on Australia’s Got Talent, which gave me the opportunity that I had worked hard 15, 16 years for. Now I’ve had all this success with my own TV show, my national and international tour, magic kits and books, but it was a long struggle to get to this point. 

Check out more from our interview with Cosentino below:

InCinemas: From coming up with the idea for an act to executing it on stage, how long is that process usually?

It takes a minimum of three months for each illusion or escape. How do i come up with the idea? I try to think like a child, to have that childlike sense of wonder and innocence. When you perform a magic trick for a child, when a coin disappears, it doesn’t happen because of a sleigh of hand or any special technique. It happens because you’re a magician, and magic is real. So i try to think, if i was a child, what would i like to see on stage? what would be really magical? What’s the purest idea? And then you work backwards, which is where my magic knowledge comes into play. Once you have the idea, you have to sketch it out, then make a mock-up cardboard cut-out. Add lights, sounds, presentations, and rehearse over and over again. It is a three-month process for a two-minute piece on stage. It’s a lot of work. 

InCinemas: What is the most challenging performance you have done so far?

For me it’s the underwater escape. I have to jump inside a tank. I’ll be chained up and handcuffed. An audience member will come up on stage, lock me up, and they’ll be sitting on stage while i’ll be holding my breath inside the tank while trying to pick the locks to escape, all within two minutes. Doing that every night, twice a night after a 90-minute show, is very physically challenging. You have to be very fit. You have to be in the right mental state. You gotta be like an athlete.

InCinemas: Do you have any mental preparation routine that you do before each show?

Mental preparation to me is really important. Just to do a full 90-minute show is a physical feat. One minute I’ll be jumping into a water tank, the next I’m hanging upside down. It’s like a sprint that lasts for 90 minutes. So before each performance, I have to get into the right state of mind. Before I jump into a water tank i also have to prep myself to lower my heart rate. I slow it down to 50 beats per minute. I have to make sure that i feel comfortable in the water. It really is a mental game.

Cosentino's tour 'Anything Is Possible' will stop by Singapore from 17 August onwards.
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