Illusionist appreciates history of craft

Special
In his act, illusionist Jason Bishop mixes new technology with traditional forms of magic.

For Jason Bishop, magic is as much about the tradition of pulling a rabbit out a hat as the actual act.

 

Mr. Bishop, an illusionist in the mold of David Blaine and Criss Angel, combines classic stage illusions with modern technology and a rock soundtrack. He will perform Friday at the Imperial Theatre.

"Throughout my life I had this inkling of interest," he said in a recent telephone interview. "Then, when I was about 15, I began reading these magic histories. I became fascinated with these men and their lives."

He is still a student of the craft, he said, and there's something about the malleability of magic that allows a contemporary performer to learn at the figurative feet of an old master.

"You can go back and read and learn from illusions that are hundreds of years old," he said. "When you read about someone like, say, Houdini, you are reading about a man, a myth and the traditions of magic."

Mr. Bishop said he believes respecting the craft of magic means becoming a well-rounded illusionist, equally adept at close-up - or parlor - magic and the grand stage illusions.

"In this show, we try to feature every type of magic," he said. "I mean, I personally feel that close-up magic is the most amazing."

Because a big hall makes card tricks a tough sell, Mr. Bishop uses a digital projection screen to bring the action to the audience. As a believer that magic must stay true to traditions and continue to evolve, he finds other ways to bring modern technology to old illusions.

"We were rehearsing an illusion the other day that uses a 50-inch plasma screen TV," he said. "It uses an effect hundreds of years old.

"You have to move forward. You have to bring magic into the future."

Mr. Bishop acknowledged that magic seems to be becoming cool again. He credits Mr. Blaine and Mr. Angel with the resurgence, along with films such as The Illusionist and The Prestige. He said his rock-driven act might also help the cause.

"The thing is, magic is cool and there aren't that many magicians," he said. "I mean, in the '70s there was Doug Henning, in the '80s and '90s there was David Copperfield, and right now there is Blaine and Angel and, I hope, me."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

ONSTAGE, OR IS HE?

WHO: Illusionist Jason Bishop

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday

WHERE: The Imperial Theatre, 745 Broad St.

COST: $15-$25

CALL: (706) 722-8341

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