Jay Scott Berry is a modern day Merlin and Renaissance man. He is an accomplished performer, inventor and teacher of magic. As such, Jay is recognised the world over as one of the leading architects of the artform. For over 20 years, he has travelled the globe, delighting audiences with a style of illusion that goes beyond deception, to inspiration.
Where did your interest in magic begin?
When I was five years old, my mother got me a small magic kit. I remember being fascinated by the idea of these simple illusions. A few weeks later, I performed my first show for the nursery school that I had attended a year earlier. From then on, I was involved in school shows and local plays, while continuing to learn about magic and music.
By the time I was 12, I was performing local birthday party shows. When I was 17, I moved from Reno, Nevada to Hollywood, California. After a year or so, I was recognised as one of the top up-and-coming talents. By the time I was 21, I was a full time professional and began touring throughout the US and Europe.
> How do you learn magic?
Traditionally, magic is one of the last Arts that is still taught from master to student. There are also books, of course. If one is serious, there are Magic Clubs as well. The actual process of learning is not unlike any craft, except, of course, that the methods and techniques are secret.
> You will be performing at Bent on Food in September. Have you been to the area before?
My wife Lisa is from Brisbane. We met seven years ago when I was on tour performing. She is also a magician and children’s entertainer. We hit it off right away, and within a few months, she was touring with me in Europe. For the last five years we’ve been based in Scotland.
We were looking all the way up and down the NSW coast for a place to settle. Like many others, we found the unique qualities of the Manning Valley to be perfect. We arrived a year ago for a look around and found a lovely 100 acre property in Wherrol Flat.
The small town charm of Wingham was part of our decision to move here. We actually went into Bent on Food when it was in its earlier location on Bent Street. We moved here in December and have begun building on the property. We have also had the fortune to make many new friends in the area.
Last month we performed our first local show out at Bobin Hall. We will be performing quite a bit around the area with these family oriented hall shows. We’re also gearing up to produce a special Halloween event at the Wingham Town Hall on Friday, October 31st.
The show at Bent on Food will be a different show altogether. Due to the intimate setting, there is the unique opportunity to present close-up magic and illusions.
> What can our readers expect from one of your shows?
Well, often we tend to think of magic as a magician presenting tricks or puzzles which you are supposed to try to figure out. The emphasis is placed on the secret of the trick. Coming from a background of theatre, I have developed somewhat of a different outlook than this.
My idea is that, like theatre, the real magic is in the experience. The true Art of Magic is the Art of Wonder. I create magic, not to fool you, but instead, to allow you to believe.
My goal in any performance is to create an experience of mystery, astonishment and pure wonder; to amaze, amuse and, ultimately, inspire.
> Do you have a favourite ‘trick’?
Yes I do, as a matter of fact. You might be surprised that it’s not a big or elaborate illusion. I often say that some mysteries come in large boxes. Others are deceptively simple, yet with implications that are truly profound.
So all that said, my ‘favourite trick’ is one with a ring and a ribbon. The ring is threaded on and, magically, penetrates the ribbon to free itself. It’s pure and simple and, of course, can be examined. It even works with a borrowed ring.
> How has the magic industry changed over the years?
In the mid 1970s, magician Doug Henning brought magic to the millions with his TV specials. This set the stage for David Copperfield and others to follow. The initial trend was that bigger was better. However, that trend has now reversed somewhat, with close-up magic being more appreciated. In many ways, this is my favourite style.
Over the years, I performed in large and small theatres. I always prefer a more intimate show, where the magic can be seen close and often happens right in your hands.
> Do you have any advice to up and coming magicans?
With any dream or endeavour, results follow desire and action. If anyone really wants to learn magic, they certainly can. In fact, with the Internet it’s quite easy to find magic shops which supply books, DVDs and, of course, tricks for beginners.
> Thank you Jay.