August 8th, 2009 12:16 EST
Magic Show with a Mission of Peace
India is a country with a rich tradition of performance magic. The Academy of Magical Sciences, also know as The Magic Academy, founded in 1996, is Asia`s first Magic Academy in Kerala, India. Its founder and master performance magician, Gopinath Muthukad, has created a new show that utilizes magic to disseminate a message of love and speaks out against hate, terrorism, and unhealthy activities.
The free, thirty minute show called, `Snehavaadathinte Vismayam,` is being well received and gaining notoriety among university students in Kerala.
I was able to catch up with Mr. Muthukad in cyber-space and ask him some questions. The following transpired:
M.V.: Do you have a website you can direct me to?
Mr. Muthukad: www.muthukad.com is our recently re-built site. Some of the sections are under making. Also http://magicweekly.blogspot.com is our blog newsletter.
M.V.: Also, could you tell me more specifically about the magic show, `Snehavaadathinte Vismayam?`
This is a customized magic show to send specific messages against terrorism - both global and national threats. It is found that the youth is mainly misled to the path of violence and extremism. Youth has become a commodity of hot demand for all sects: religious groups, fundamental organizations and political movements. Those who are propagators of terrorism also are in need of the youth for executing the evil. We through our magic show try to teach that terrorism a futile policy and it can gain nothing. Permanent solutions are always gained through peaceful means and never through bloodshed. We also warn the youngsters that terrorism never sprouts from one`s own soil but always been germinated from outside one`s country. This is a fact world over. Because terrorism has become another form of war. It is a war of cowards and way of fighting from the back. We try to lead the young minds to the eternal pathways of peace as preached and practiced by the Great Mahatma Gandhi, Father of our Nation. We are trying to spread the message of harmony among human beings. We are trying to spread the ideals of prosperity for all human beings - of all religion, castes and communities.
M.V.: Has the show been taken on the road yet?
Mr. Muthukad: Yes
M.V.: What universities has it played at so far, and what is scheduled in the future?
Mr. Muthukad: Universities in Kerala are organizing the event in various colleges. We have also proposed to perform a nationwide voyage with these shows.
M.V.: Has the show had a positive response from universities and its students?
Mr. Muthukad: Surely. Students are actively reciprocating with the messages of peace disseminated through the magic shows.
M.V.: How does the show attempt to get it messages of anti-terrorism and healthy living across to audiences?
Mr. Muthukad: There are customized illusion items showing the futility of terrorism. There are items emphasizing the values of national integration, communal harmony and social amity.
M.V.: Has it been effective in this?
Mr. Muthukad: Highly effective.
M.V.: What can you tell me about the specifics of the show? Is done by one performer, or many?
Mr. Muthukad: It is done by the magician and a 25-member troupe. It can be performed in open air as well as indoor venues.
M.V.: Is it made up of large illusions or a mix of illusions and other techniques?
Mr. Muthukad: There are large to medium type of illusions. Also used are certain sleights of hand tricks.
M.V.: Does it rely on a lot of patter or other techniques of communication?
Mr. Muthukad: Of course, patter has a place. We use patter, backdrop, and music for generating an ambience suitable for this magic show with a message.
M.V.: Does it make use of humor, if so, how so?
Mr. Muthukad: Since the messages embedded are not so lighter, humor has little place in this particular show.
M.V.: What can you tell me about your academy and its mission and programs?
Mr. Muthukad: The Academy of Magical Sciences, more popular as the Magic Academy is in the fore offering umpteen of service for the growth of magic and magicians in the country. Since its inception in 1996, the Academy has been upholding the torch of science to dismantle superstitions. Driven by the motto, `Magic with A Mission`, the Academy has been making magic a medium for spreading virtuous messages in the society. To live by its name, several academic services have also been offered here. For example there are courses in magical art designed for enthusiasts aged 8 to 80. Many courses have no upper age limit, making the classes good equally for the aged as well as the young. A recent offshoot of the Academy has been realized at the Government owned, KINFRA Film and Video Park. Named MARC (Magic Academy Research Centre), this institution has become a centre for conserving great Indian heritage in magic. For promoting traditional street magicians, the Academy has already conducted a number of national festivals of street magicians. To promote ancient as well as contemporary magic, the Academy has launched a groundbreaking `Magic Tourism` project with the help of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation. A number of national and international magic festivals are also being organized by the Academy. To the latest was a four-day `Vismayam 2008` International magic festival held triumphantly with the participation of around 1000 magicians from India and abroad.
M.V.: Thank you Mr. Muthukad for taking the time to speak with me.