“They told me my services were no longer desired because they wanted to put in a youth program as an advance way of keeping the club going. I’ll never make the mistake of being seventy again.”
— Casey Stengel
This month, our guest columnist is Bryce Kuhlman. We’ve known Bryce since he was about the age of those “kids” he writes about below. It seems to me, we weren’t much older ourselves back then. I guess we’ve been doing this for quite a while now! I’ve seen Bryce move from life as a student to earning his livelihood as a magician, on to being a rocket scientist working for Motorola, and then to building multiple businesses, mostly around his prodigious talents as a programmer. He’s one of our true “renaissance men,” who excels in multiple areas – all the time exhibiting a good nature and wisdom beyond his years. I think you’ll enjoy his insights below!
I’m at an age where I find myself frequently uttering the phrase “Kids these days…” To be honest, I’m looking forward to the day when I graduate to “You kids get off my lawn!” (though it might be “get off my website” for me). That’s probably not a good attitude to have when you get booked to help facilitate the Lance Burton Teen Seminar at the recent I.B.M. (International Brotherhood of Magicians) convention here in Phoenix.
Many of you reading this many not know much about the Teen Seminar. It all started many years ago at the Desert Magic Seminar. Joe Stevens, the convention coordinator, noticed that a lot of teens were attending the convention. So he asked Lance Burton if he’d like to host some sort of event for the teens. What started out as a simple pizza party eventually turned into a 3-day long mini-convention, just for teens. The program is now associated with the I.B.M. It is free to the teens as long as they are signed up for the convention and is hosted by Lance and members of the Magic & Mystery School faculty. This year we had 24 teens from across the US, Canada, England, Japan and Thailand.
I was concerned that I might not have anything to say to these teens. I was thinking to myself, “They just watch YouTube all day and have no interest in becoming performing magicians.”
I’m happy, and humbled, to report that I was the clueless one, not the teens.
These teens give me hope for the future of magic as a performing art (as opposed to just an intellectual exercise). Many of them are already performing on a regular basis, both in close-up venues and on stage. In fact, when I brought up YouTube, I consistently got negative comments about exposure and how it can be a huge waste of time.
As partial proof, the teens did quite well in the competitions. Eli Portala, a past Master Class student, won 1st place in the Youth Stage Competition and made it to the stage finals and got to perform for the entire convention on the Friday night Gold Medal show, along with five acts in the adult category. Eli comes from a family of magicians and has been performing since the age of three (read more about him in our Winner’s Circle). Satori Adler and Jason Knight won Sorcerer’s Safari Camp Scholarships funded by the I.B.M. Endowment and Development Foundation.
Most exciting to me, personally: Eugene and Larry presented Tamer Qafiti with a McBride Magic & Mystery School Faculty Award, which will cover his tuition to any of our events. Tamer spent the majority of the convention in our “sessioning” room asking questions and performing great magic for anyone and everyone who would watch. We’re looking forward to working with him at an upcoming 7-day Master Class.
The art of magic is in great hands!
“I would like to recapture that freshness of vision which is characteristic of extreme youth when all the world is new to it.”
— Henri Matisse