We are always full of awe when we have a chance to be in a room with an illusionist. It’s an escape that defies logic and gives us something extraordinary to ponder. Their sleight of hand tricks are secrets that have amazed crowds for many, many years. Now that we’re in a pandemic, it may just be the escape we need right now from our everyday routine while staying at home. TO Live presents world-renowned illusionist, mentalist and performance artist, Scott Silven in an all-new immersive and interactive online live show The Journey from February 16 to 21 and from March 16 to 28, 2021.
In this new work, Silven invites intimate groups of no more than 30 into the world of his childhood home in Scotland where the power of place and connection takes audience member on a personal journey of discovery. Silven uses audience participation to weave a spellbinding story that leaves you in wonder.
“Memory and nostalgia form a big part of my work, and Scotland was such a formative part of my childhood and what I do today — the mythical landscape provides constant inspiration for me,” says Silven. “Serendipitously, returning back to Scotland and my childhood home this year made me recognize the power of place and how that stays with us, and I knew I wanted to create an experience that would ask an audience the same questions. I began creating The Journey based around the landscape and myths of my childhood and discovered that I wanted to take my audience on a virtual adventure from their home to mine and to use their imaginations and memories as the guide. It adds an authenticity to the experience that I’m not performing on stage in a studio or theatre, but inviting the audience into my home and us sharing in the experience together.”
Ahead of his scheduled performances with Toronto audiences, we had a chance to speak with Silven to find out more…
When did you discover your love for the art of illusions?
SS: Scotland is a place where myth and mystery is woven into the fabric of its identity, so being connected to those stories and surroundings as a kid really instilled a sense of wonder in me and a love for magic. We live in a time where everything is often easily explainable and it’s inspiring to see the myths of this landscape still alive today. My grandfather was also a big influence on my work, he taught me some simple tricks when I was very young and set me on the journey of becoming an illusionist. I remember doing lots of vanishes and reappearances as a little kid, which usually involved asking family members to close their eyes whilst I ran behind the sofa. I promise my skills have improved since then!
Do you have a favourite trick/experience that either you’ve witnessed or have performed?
SS: Whilst traditional magicians often focus on tricks or elaborate props, as a mentalist my work is not driven by any of this, but by the power of story, by memory and the mind. That for me is always exciting but makes it difficult to choose a single favourite illusion as each effect I create is personal for the audience. In The Journey, I’ve created what I believe are some of my most powerful illusions so far. My goal is never to convince an audience that magic is real but to lead them to an impossible place of wonder.
This latest endeavour will all be performed online – what can we expect?
SS: The challenges of the online format have allowed unique opportunities to connect with the audience on a deeper level that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do in a live environment. We send the audience exclusive advance content- special films and a binaural sound experience- that they can interact with before they engage with the show. As well as this, there’s something very powerful about audience members sitting in the comfort of their own homes. They are asked to bring objects of meaning to them to the performance itself, which I hope makes it a far more personal and dynamic experience than sitting in the usual darkened space of a theatre. Mostly for me, it’s exciting to connect with audiences across the world every night.
The experience will be shared through the magic of the internet. What other technology are you incorporating into the show?
SS: I wanted The Journey to feel as close to my live shows as possible. What we have created is something that not only feels like a live experience but is deeply interactive and immersive, as the audience’s input directly affects key moments of the show. To achieve this, we had to design custom technology that allows the audience to be projected into the room as well as develop intricate sound design that envelops them in the story. I was able to bring together an incredible creative team of Broadway and West End veterans, including Designer Jeff Sugg and Sound Designer Gareth Fry. By combining breakthrough technology, projection mapping, high definition visuals, and stereo sound to help tell my story, we have hopefully created something audiences will have never experienced in the online realm before.
You were in Toronto performing during Luminato in 2018, what you loved about our city?
SS: I’ve lived in NYC for the past few years so I’m used to city living, but I found the rhythm of Toronto pretty unique. It’s got the metropolitan buzz of a major city but it’s also connected to nature in a beautiful way. I remember spending some lovely afternoons in Rouge Park after a busy day exploring the arts and culture scene in the city. I can’t wait to visit again in person hopefully sometime soon.
COVID has impacted us in many ways but have there been any silver linings for you?
SS: I think for me the opportunity to slow down and be in the one place for a period of time has been surprisingly rewarding. I went from a schedule of touring around the world with 500 shows a year to being back in my family home. For me, it’s allowed a moment to reflect, reconnect with family and friends, and has really inspired me creatively.
I’m hugely excited to be bringing The Journey to TO Live for its Canadian premiere — I’ve hopefully crafted an experience that audiences will never have seen in the online realm before, I can’t wait for them to experience it. Bring some headphones, an object of meaning, and prepare for an adventure you hopefully won’t forget!
Performances run February 16-21, 2021 and March 16-28, 2021
Tuesday -Saturday performances will begin at 6:00pm and 8:00pm EST
Sunday performances will begin at 2:00pm and 4:00pm EST
Running time is approximately 55 minutes
Ticket prices start at $45.00 and can be purchased at tolive.com/thejourney