The History of Street Magic
Very simply put, street magic could be best described as a performance of magic tricks outdoors in a local environment that need not necessarily be restricted to a street but could take place in a park, corner or shopping mall.
To perform this magic, the magician penetrates a group of people and showcases his talents by performing various magic tricks in ascending order of difficulty.
While money could be one of the inspiring factors here, most contemporary magicians indulge in this type of magic simply because they find it extremely challenging to capture the undivided attention of the crowd and create a long-lasting impression.
In spite of the lack of substantial documentation verifying the widespread existence of street magic before the 1970s, this form of magic has been around for a long time.
If you read through the literature of any ancient civilisation, you are sure to come across the mention of a particular wise man at several points wherein he possessed supernatural powers.
These powers were used liberally by skilled magicians courtesy of the fact that ancient society did not harbour any prejudice against this art.
England, Egypt and India are some of the countries which boasted a sizeable number of magicians, and hence served as the earliest locales for street magic.
However, there came a time in the history of street magic when it lost its royal aura and began to serve as a method for earning a living. With the era of court magicians long past, magicians began to rely on street magic for 'busking' wherein the magician would first perform a few tricks and then pass a hat amongst the spectators to collect coins.
But not every magician performed street magic for the sake of busking - there were many who treated it as a medium for honing their skills before climbing the ladder and making a mark at more sophisticated venues.
A noteworthy example that comes to mind immediately within the history of street magic is that of Jeff Sheridan who decided to make Central Park in New York his first stage.
He enthralled spectators with his creative and original street magic for almost two decades. Such was his impact that even when he moved on and acquired renown all over the country, people continued to associate him with his typical style of performance that he had cultivated in Central Park.
Therefore, the credit of reviving street magic belongs solely to him since he was responsible for taking up the baton after a long gap following the extinction of the ancient shamans.
Presently the legacy of Jeff Sheridan is being carried by his disciples David Blaine, David Copperfield and Cross Angel, all of whom have designed a versatile bag of tricks to establish themselves as successful street magicians.
While some surprise onlookers through guerrilla and endurance tricks, others rely on more traditional methods such as levitation and escapism.
Every well known magician performed street magic at some point in their career.
This is because generations of magicians have looked upon it as a viable open stage combined with the thrill that comes from performing live.
Whatever is their intention, it has enabled street magic with all its advantages and disadvantages to endure and retain its charm and mysticism even in this age of gadgets and contraptions.
Do you not think that this in itself is nothing short of being an exemplary example of good magic?