Q&A with illusionist Darcy Oake

Unfathomable illusions. A death-defying escape. A mind-reader that will leave you astounded. These are just some of the incredible feats that take place on The Teatro’s stage with The Illusionists…

Eight of the world’s most talented illusionists perform in the show, including Darcy Oake, who has been perfecting his skills since the age of 7. It all started when his dad showed him a classic card trick. We’ve probably all tried it – the one where you pick a card from a deck and the magician guesses which card you picked. Well, Darcy’s dad got it right (even if only by pure accident according to Darcy). Whatever the reason for it working, Darcy was hooked and spent his days practicing various tricks in front of the mirror. Today he is one of the top illusionists in the world.

We caught up with Darcy to ask him a few questions about his craft. And no, he doesn’t tell us how he manages to defy logic.

ABOVE: Darcy Oake (right) showing off his tricks outside The Palazzo at Montecasino.

Once your dad showed you the card trick, you devoted all your time to perfecting magic tricks. How did you learn? And what was the first trick you nailed down? 

I started learning before the days of YouTube so I was reading a lot of old magic books. Eventually I met a few local magicians who introduced me to the club in the city. I started hanging out there and learning everything I possible could.  

What is the most nerve-racking part of performing?

I live for performing so it’s not exactly nerve-racking for me. I get extremely excited about stepping out on stage and taking the audience on a journey. I would say it can get a bit stressful working on new material. Every illusion is a perpetual work in progress so the first time you try something new can be stressful. 

What do you like most about performing with fellow illusionists in this show? 

Being able to bounce ideas off one another. It’s amazing to have this many magicians in the same room and they may have input that you never thought of before. I am only improving by performing alongside such great company. 

How have you enjoyed performing to a South African audience? 

It’s been amazing. There hasn’t been a large scale illusion show like this in South Africa since the 90s so the crowds have been extremely receptive!

What has been the highlight of your career? 

Performing for the Queen of England on her 90th birthday in Windsor Castle. And of course Britain’s Got Talent was a game changer for me. SIDEBAR: Darcy came second in Britain’s Got Talent in 2014, launching him onto the international stage.

Which Royal family member enjoyed your performance the most?
Prince Harry seemed to be having a blast! We got to chat for a good 5 minutes after and it was one of the coolest experiences. He was such a nice guy and seemed to LOVE magic.
You have said that your favourite illusion to perform is the one with the doves, which you performed for the world on Britain’s Got Talent. What would you put second? 

It’s tough to pick favourites. But second to the doves would have to be the chair illusion which I performed in the second round of Britain’s Got Talent. SPOILER ALERT: You might get to see this illusion at The Teatro…

It must be tough to come up with new illusions. Which are you most proud of? And which one was the hardest to perfect? 

The dove act takes the cake! It has been one of the most difficult to perfect; working with live animals is risky –  they have a mind of their own and can do whatever they want when they want! I also feel proud that I took a super cliché act (magicians with doves), rejuvenated it, and made it exciting for today.

You have spoken about your admiration for mentalist and illusionist Derren Brown. What about his work do you enjoy the most?

The fact that he has carved out a niche in a very specific genre. Derren Brown changed the mentalism game and his material is all so well thought out. He’s a huge inspiration for me, and I’m proud to call him a friend as well.

What is the most insane illusion you have witnessed?

I always love watching someone who has dedicated their life to something specific. Endurance stunts always fascinate me. I have a massive amount of respect for anyone doing any sort of breath-holding stunt. I do one occasionally, but I dislike doing it because the stakes are high and very real. 

Any advice for aspiring illusionists? 

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and perform as much as possible! Try new things and find every opportunity to work material.
As for him sharing his secrets with his dad today? “Never! It’s disappointing when the illusion is shattered. I guard the secrets closely and methods are only explained a very strict need-to-know basis!”

Guess he just has to watch the show like the rest of us…

The Illusionists will be on at Montecasino until 11 March. Due to popular demand, two Saturday morning shows have been added to the schedule on 3 & 10 March at 11:00. Tickets are available through Computicket. You can click here to book.

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