MagicFest Interview: Renz

All this week, we’re counting down to the opening of MagicFest 2017.

The popular festival returns to Edinburgh this Friday so we caught up with Renz, one of the talented magicians set to perform at a show inspired by the work and lives of local authors in The Secret Room at The Writers’ Museum next week.

Your act is very unusual in that you often combine poetry and magic. Can you tell us a little bit more about it?

I love writing so sometimes I use structured poetry with rhyme and rhythm but, at other times, it’s just a commitment to using words to their fullest in order to give depth to my material. The tag actually came from a review on one of my shows in which the reviewer had written- ‘not just a magician but a poet of the impossible’. Funnily enough that show didn’t actually have any structured poetry in it but he felt the way I weaved narratives in and around the tricks was poetic. I also use words carefully to bind my shows together into a coherent piece with a single theme rather than presenting a series of disjointed tricks.

Ultimately, I consider the things I say during a show to be as important as the things I do – magic really sets people’s imaginations on a journey, but so do well-chosen words.

How many years did it take you to get your show to the stage it’s at now?

I’ve got three full length parlour/stage shows – ‘Spellbinder’, ‘Prophet’ and ‘Burn Witch Burn’.  They are all distinct with completely different themes and content. It’s taken about five years to get them all into a shape that I’m happy with. That said, I’m in the process of rewriting one of them at the moment.

I also have a close-up magic repertoire for other events where I’m walking around.

How did you initially get involved with magic?

David Blaine – people’s reactions to his street magic were so raw and spontaneous. Whether you like him or not, the reactions he elicited from people were beautiful. And he did it without actors or camera tricks – just skill and some theatrics. That’s magic.

Derren Brown was also a huge influence. His shows are really intelligently structured and he’s a great showman.

I, myself, got involved through self-study. I sourced books from all over the world and started building my skill and knowledge alone before mixing with other performers.

Tell us about the best magic trick or show you’ve ever seen…

Tough question to answer but Penn and Teller do a beautiful trick where they seem to be plucking coins from a clear tank of water. At the end, the coins are dropped back into the tank and they seem to transform into fish. It’s a really beautiful visual illusion.

Was there a specific moment in your career when you realised you could make a career out of being a professional magician?

Not really but I only started seriously considering it after being involved in acting and theatre for a few years. My time performing in theatre plays gave me a lot of confidence and made me think of a magician as a character that you play. I’m still quite involved in theatre actually – I’ve written two plays and one of them, ‘Cracked Tiles’, will be on at EdFringe this year.

How does performing at MagicFest differ from performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

I’m not sure because I’ve yet to begin performing at Magic Fest but at EdFringe I perform what I want whereas with this, I was given a brief of what type of performance to do. The theme for my performance is Robert Burns, which I’m delighted about.

Tell us why you think people should come along to The Secret Room… 

It’ll be a great chance to learn about Scotland’s most famous writers in a really fun and memorable way. People are also going to be entertained in a beautiful setting- the Writers Museum – which is home to the work and artefacts of these writers. Audiences will also see three different magicians performing with their own unique style and tricks. I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun!

MagicFest, Friday 30 – Saturday 8 July, 0131 226 0006,

Words: Amy Anderson

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