Illusion Week Focuses on "The Magic of Healing" - Jan / Feb 20

All magicians know that without an audience that actually wishes to be mystified and entranced, a magic trick will fall flat. In the art of illusion—as well as in the art of any stagecraft—it’s called the “willing suspension of disbelief.” This results in a series of “magical” events that really do seem to be magic, even though the observer knows, intellectually, that the impossible can’t be possible. Or can it? That’s the trick.

Chapman University’s Musco Center for the Arts will present “Illusion Week” the first week of February 2020, with a week-long series of workshops called “The Magic of Healing” for therapists and educators. That will be followed by a comedy-magic show for the public starring Magic Castle favorite Mac King on February 8. The event is part of Musco’s “Leap of Art” pilot program, which directly involves performers and creative artists with students and scholars at the university to illuminate topics about which Chapman has special interest and academic investment.

Illusion Week is spearheaded by Richard Bryant, Musco Center Executive Director, and Kevin Spencer, a noted magician-educator-therapist. The events will be co-hosted by Musco Center and Chapman’s Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, with participation by Chapman’s Thompson Policy Institute, the Autism Center and the Pediatric Behavioral Unit at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), among others.

Kevin Spencer is an international leader in the use of stage magic as substitute therapy for the treatment of conditions such as autism, dementia, PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. He has carried out his work in more than 2,200 hospitals. During his week of workshops at Chapman “I’m mostly looking at the educational benefits of using the art of stage illusion, especially when we’re talking about the disability population, in helping those individuals improve cognition, motor skills, communication, social skills and flexible thinking,” says Spencer.

Bryant further explains the connection: “Kevin and others in the field believe that stage magic or illusions can instruct us on how the brain works, and that we’ll never be able to understand the brain fully until we understand how illusion functions. A lot of people, for example, get better when they take placebos, because they believe they’ll get better. Somehow your brain collaborates with your body to get there. This week of workshops with stage illusionists, therapists, medical professionals and educators will illuminate, we hope, the hidden mechanisms of the mind-body connection and advance knowledge of healing processes.”

And what better way to cap “The Magic of Healing” week than a performance for the public by the magician Penn & Teller once called “a god…the greatest comedy magician at least alive today, and maybe who ever lived?” Mac King has been crowned “Magician of the Year” at Hollywood’s famed Magic Castle, appeared on seven NBC specials, and had his long-running act voted among the best shows in all of Las Vegas. Tickets are on sale now for The Mac King Comedy Magic Show at Musco Center on Saturday, February 8 at 7:30 pm. Visit to purchase, or call 844-OC-MUSCO (844-626-8726).

Published in the Jan / Feb 20 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Article Written by Mary Platt, Photo provided by Musco Center

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