Photo credits: Bernard Sim and Ning.
This past weekend, the “History of Singapore Magic” Exhibition and the “Heritage of Singapore Magic” shows opened at the Singapore Heritage Festival Hub at City Square Mall.
The exhibition is curated by the National Heritage Board (NHB) and is the first nationally endorsed presentation of the history of Singapore magic. It is a legitimate and mainstream form of recognition by our heritage board that acknowledges magic as part of our Singapore’s living heritage.
NHB worked with the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) Ring 115 and interviewed dozens of magicians to identify significant events, personalities and significant contributions to the Singapore magic scene. Arguably the foremost expert of Singapore magic history, William Gwee Thian Hock, gave invaluable insight and a macro opinion on local magic evolution of time.
The exhibition begins with the early history of Singapore (starting post WW2) and highlights early 1st generation magicians including Tan Hock Chuan, Tan Choon Tee and, of course, Ng Bo Oen – The Great Wong.
The Great Wong is widely acknowledged as (and IMHO is) the most important and influential historical magician in Singapore magic history. He was a skilled performer as well as craftsman and was Singapore’s first professional world class magician. He is the only local magician to date to be invited to perform at FISM (the same year that Lance Burton won his FISM 1st Place award in General Magic). I was lucky enough to have a few interactions with the Great Wong before he passed away in 1992 as I had just joined the IBM Ring 115 that year.
Much of the PR publicity for this exhibition describes it as showcasing Singapore magic heritage from “The Great Wong” to ‘Magic Babe’ Ning. For the mainstream public and media, no other Singapore magician, male or female, has made such an impact as Ning to raise the awareness and perception of local magic in mainstream media in modern times. I’m so proud of her and have no doubt she will be an important personality in Singapore magic history for years to come. She is featured prominently in the exhibition with her own designated exhibit panels as well as the driving force of “Women in Magic”.
It is also heartening that NHB recognizes Ning & myself for our contributions of putting Singapore on the world map with our international performances, shows and awards. We are honoured to be acknowledged as the current faces of magic in Singapore. We stand on the shoulders of giants and hope to pave the wave for the future of magic in Singapore as well.
The exhibition highlights many of our milestones and even features a replica (although inaccurate and non-working naturally) of our very own “360 Sawing” illusion! How awesome is that??!
The exhibition runs till 28 Jul 2013, so be sure to come down for it at least once! Check out all the different magicians who have contributed to the Singapore magic scene from past to present.
Another highlight for the magic festival hub at City Square Mall is the “Heritage of Singapore Magic” show, directly commissioned by NHB. Ning & I produced the show as well as act as the hosts of the presentation that showcase various facets, genres, styles and personalities of Singapore magic from past, present and future.
Ning & I opened the show with an interactive piece of magic and an introduction to the show.
The first featured performer is the first magician in Singapore played by Jonathan Heron. Early writing suggests that magic was a popular form of entertainment in colonial society in the early 20th century. Jon plays the part of the British magician and performs a series of circus acts with a cane, top hat and juggling balls. He also performs an elegant multi-silk transformation routine that always gets gasps from the audience.
Yong Tian AKA Adeline Ng represents the visiting magicians from China pre-war and presents a modern interpretation of a traditional Chinese magic routine – The Kuma Tubes. While based on a traditional routine, there are several original twists and additions to the routine that makes it unique. If you have never seen this act before, you have to come down to watch Yong Tian perform her “Asian Fusion” version.
Next, Andy Ng takes the stage as “The Great Wong” and skillfully performs Wong’s original Chinese Linking Rings routine. What makes Wong’s routine unique in the world is the fact that 6 solid steel rings are used to create intricate patterns. Andy was the perfect fit to play Wong as he has the maturity of a seasoned performer, had learnt the routine in the past and was a fan of Wong’s magic when he was younger. Even Wong’s grandson who was present during the show commented that Andy reminded him of his grandfather. Kudos to Andy for doing a great job and keeping Wong’s spirit and act alive!
From the greatest magician in Singapore’s past, we introduce the “Future of Magic”, Dean Wong. We worked with Dean to create a truly unique act that combines his favourite stage magic effects (LED dancing cane and lights from finger tips) with his “body-popping” dance moves. His act was a highlight of the show as he was so fresh and distinct from any other act on the show. His modern approach and performance style captivated the audience and showed the evolution of magic from past to future.
Ning & I closed the show with our “Spike Box” illusion that punctuated the entertaining show with a high impact grand illusion as well as Ning’s sexy “Dance of the Sais”.
The curtain call brought all the performers back on stage to receive a strong ovation from the appreciate audience.
Come down to watch the show and enjoy the exhibition while it lasts. They are a must-see!