After the Show

The velvet curtains have closed on the illusionist’s stage.  The last sounds of astonished laughter and beating palms echo off the walls, already fading to memory.  House lights suddenly blare, hot and bright, as Craig Davis enters from backstage, all smiles for his enthusiastic fans, parrot perched contentedly on his shoulder, camera lights flashing.  The show is over.

But now the next phase of the magician’s work begins: breaking down the show.  For the Davis Circus of Illusion, this process involves much more than tossing card decks and juggling balls into a tote.  It’s time to cart away the elaborate illusion sets.

“The way I break down my act,” Craig Davis explains, “is unusual for illusionists.”  Most illusionists have large crews to take their props apart, unwinding hundreds of wing nuts and caching the pieces into numbered boxes, to be reassembled later for another show.

Craig’s illusion sets, however, are designed to be set up and broken down quickly.  Efficiency lends to frugality, especially important when many performance spaces are rented at hundreds of dollars an hour.  Craig’s sets and props are each whole units.  Rather than assemble and disassemble each set for each performance, Craig’s crew loads the props and sets into a custom-constructed crates that fit each one perfectly.  What’s more, Craig designed and built these wheeled crates himself.

Each crate has been carefully measured, padded, riveted, and adorned with corner brackets and locks, ready to transport their props.  Craig’s mobile crates are even airworthy, having travelled abroad for shows to international audiences.  Each illusion set and its crate becomes a single mobile unit, ready to be rolled into the travel trailer, and ready to be rolled out again, in just minutes, for the next show.

In this way, Craig is a hands-on artist from start to finish, not only for the illusion act itself, but from the very mental conception of the illusion and construction of the props and sets.  Many illusionists simply purchase illusion props for their shows.  Craig, however, has even been retained as a consultant to design and build illusion props for other illusionists.

So, in addition to being a juggler, magician, card trickster, illusionist, and variety artist, Craig has also become an expert carpenter, riveter, welder, and designer.  Because of Craig’s efficiency, in less than one hour, the Davis Circus of Illusion is all packed up and ready to go to the next show.

After seeing Craig Davis’ variety show for the third time, I enjoyed the privilege of being allowed to assist his crew as an impromptu stage hand, helping to pack up the show.  At times during the show, I had sat too stupefied to even applaud for many of the acts.  “How does he do that?” became my show-time mantra.

As a stage hand, I now had ample opportunity to peer and poke, to try to figure out some of the magician’s secrets.  Instead, I averted my eyes.  The sophistication of the illusion sets, and the Houdini-like success of the illusion acts, had given rise to outright awe.  This sense of wonder more than overcame my intense curiosity about the illusions.  Simply put, I did not want to know their secrets.

“Even if you were inclined to tell me,” I remarked to Craig as we rolled the last crated prop into the trailer, “I would not want to know how you do it.”  I am content to enjoy the true magic of the Davis Circus of Illusion.

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by Roger Evans Baker

February 22, 2016

Davis Magic LLC © 2018