Interview | Shane Gillen, magician

Shane Gillen is returning to 10 Days in Dublin after the success of last year’s show The Arrow of Time. Mind Heist promises another spectacular evening of illusion and baffling skill. MEG managed to catch a few words with Shane (he was being sawn in half at the time so couldn’t get away…)

So Shane, you performed your show Arrow of Time with 10 Days last year and you’re back with a new one – Mind Heist – for 2012… So what can we expect?
Mind Heist
is an entirely different type of show. It’s not ‘magic’ as you would know ‘magic’. Myself and my production manager John Belling wanted to take what we do and go an entirely different direction with it. Why pull a rabbit from a hat when you can reach someone on a deeper and emotional level? Mind Heist is a cognitive experience, it (hopefully) plays on peoples’ emotions – be it happiness or fears. The show also is a lot darker than ‘Arrow of Time’, with more character and coherency in story.  We play a lot with thoughts, hypnosis, and mesmerism – a form of apparent ‘psychology’ that people will learn more about when they come along.

What inspired you to take up the art of magic? How did you learn?
I went to San Francisco a number of years ago on a J1 and there was a job going in a magic shop. I took the job claiming to know loads about magic – when really I didn’t. I lost the job once they realised I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. However, the seed had been planted and I decided there and then that I wanted to do magic. I ‘googled’ magic shops in the area and found one called ‘Misdirections’ on Ocean Avenue run by a Chinese-American guy named Joe Pon. Instead of giving me a job, he mentored me for the summer. I stuck with it since and the rest is history. However, I’m reluctant to call what I do now ‘magic’, I’m far more about the body and mind language of a person, and reading them intuitively to give them back information about themselves – not psychic though (I don’t believe in that)!

Do you have any magician/illusionist role models?
Not particularly. I’m more inspired by other artists, authors, storytellers – people who make a living by inspiring others in general. That’s what ‘magic’ should do. It should never seem like the magician is doing what he’s doing just because he can – he should be doing it for the spectator, not for himself, the aim is to inspire others, not to big yourself. So that’s why I’d look towards people who inspire me in general. I’ve a mate – Macker, he runs a bar on Westmoreland Street – if you could meet a better role model than him, I’d like to meet them.

I’ve seen you win over audiences (including me) but do you find that people’s scepticism usually gives way? How do you deal with people who just don’t want to believe what they’re seeing?
I encourage people not to believe what they’re seeing. I perform to show people what is factually possible within the realms of our reality, not to persuade people that there is more than just the reality that they already know. Humans love to ignite one another’s imagination – we do it all the time – books, movies, poetry, songs, dance. If somebody doesn’t want to believe what they’re seeing that’s absolutely fine, they’re not exactly meant to, and I wouldn’t want them to think that I truly believe it either. It’s not disrespectful to not believe it, you can not believe it and still be amazed by it.

Have you got any goals? Any big tricks or stunts that you are dreaming of pulling off?
I want to see how far I can take ‘magic’. I’ve set up a monthly magic night in The Sugar Club that was nominated for an Event Industry Award for ‘Best Launch Night’ in the country such was it’s success. I’m all about making good magic reach as many people as possible. I couldn’t do any of that without John Belling by the way. I love expanding my audience. I opened for Bressie at a sold-out Academy last week. I’m in training at the moment for a 450 mile cycle I’m going to do across the island of Madagascar in September, where I’ll be stopping at orphanages, leprosy clinics, schools, hospitals and mental hospitals performing for some of the poorest people on earth, a challenge I’ll be videoblogging online that I’m calling ‘Project Magicgascar’. I gave a TEDx talk in November about The Anatomy of Perception and have been invited to Slovakia in October to give a talk at the UNICAMP conference about magic and multimedia. I’m hosting this year’s TEDx talks along with Darragh Doyle and I’m performing at the opening of Antaragni Festival in Kanpur India for 2 nights in November in front of 2,000 people.

Have you ever used your mind tricks for evil?
Haaa! It depends what your definition of ‘evil’ is – what you call ‘evil’ I might call cheeky;) Hope you can make my show, then I’ll let you know!

Mind Heist runs in Smock Alley Boys from July 5th-11th at 8pm.

Clara Kumagai

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