By Olivia Langenberg
Features and Lists Editor
A few weeks back, we at the paper were offered a unique opportunity to attend “A Case for Magic” at the NYC Frigid Fringe Festival. When I read this email, I quickly offered to represent us at the event. I like to take advantage of the random opportunities we get here in NYC, so I thought, “Hey, why not?”
The Frigid Festival was founded back in 2007 to give the theater community a place to freely express themselves and their art. In support of this, 100% of the box office proceeds go directly to the artists. Frigid thrives through generous donations from the surrounding community. It runs for about 2 weeks, giving performers the opportunity to showcase their talents multiple times. The act that we were specifically invited to attend was Robert Malissa’s “A Case for Magic.” Malissa is a Philadelphia native who has been doing magic since age 12. His goal of the show is to fight back against the idea that magic is tacky, or just for kids.
So there I am. I’m headed downtown on the D train at 7pm on a Wednesday. Before I know it, I’m in the East Village, and I realize I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. I wander into the Kraine Theater, find myself a seat, and buckle in for what is about to come next. The performance space was small, similar to the Blackbox in Collins and most indie theater spaces I’ve been in before. Malissa took the stage, opening the show asking the audience whether or not we liked card tricks. Most of us said we did, and Malissa proceeded to shuffle a deck of cards. He asked for a volunteer, but phrased it as “an internship,” which the audience enjoyed. He performed a typical card trick, one of those “Is this your card?” bits to start the show off.
Malissa crafted his show with many short tricks in succession. He went through another card trick in which he informed us that he had made a prediction prior to the performance. The card he imagined we would pick was on stage sealed away in an envelope. Once again, audience participation was encouraged to narrow down the cards until we eventually selected one specific card. And of course, that was the card that had been sealed in the envelope. Sure, it wasn’t an incredibly mind-blowing trick, but I was still impressed. If I can’t tell how a trick is done, consider me pleased.
Perhaps my favorite part of the show was Malissa’s attempt at mentalism. I’ve seen mentalists on America’s Got Talent and the like, so I was excited to see Malissa take a stab at it. My fellow editor, Annie was the one who had the pleasure of assisting Malissa for this trick. From what I know, mentalism involves careful observance and intuition. Somehow, the talent is able to pick out a word that the person is thinking of just from watching them. Annie was instructed to pick a word from a page in The Economist, of which she chose “paintbrush.” Malissa proposed some random words to her, observing the way she reacted to them, and eventually determined that “paintbrush” was indeed the word she had been thinking of.
All in all, I enjoyed my experience at “A Case for Magic.” It was a night full of light-hearted fun, gasps, and wonder. It isn’t terribly often that you get invited to a magic show, so I’m glad that I had the opportunity to attend one. Malissa told us he had been working on this particular show for a year, and it is clear that his work paid off.