‘I am a magician’.
Those were the four words so eloquently put by Ben Hart when attempting to describe himself within a five-word limit.
However, Ben is not only a practitioner of magic, but also a writer, director and inventor of the craft, possessing a skillful sleight of hand whilst implementing his own creative twist.
Recalling his earliest memory, he tells me, “I can’t remember not doing magic, I’ve been doing it since I was a tiny little kid. I was at a children’s birthday party, and they had invited a magician along, and I remember being invited up on stage by this entertainer, and the kid sitting next to me said ‘don’t invite Ben, he’s already a magician’. Magic is the only job I’ve ever had, I always knew I had to do magic “
At the age of 16, Ben won the Magic Circle’s “Young Magician of the Year”, now 24, he has worked with physical comedians and theatres to create magic tricks for whilst accumulating an abundance of inventions under his own cape. Ben has also had the pleasure of mentoring the great wizard himself, Sir Ian McKellen.
Talking on sharing the stage with McKellen, “He just had something about him, I think the hardest thing for a magician to do is to understand the power of just standing there on stage and having dominance. McKellen was amazing at that; he already had that, so it was an remarkable starting point. It’s all about the way you perform it, and so it makes sense that such an experienced actor would be such a great magician. I’ve taught Gandalf magic!”
Highly intelligent and a master in his craft, Ben’s inspiration extends beyond the borders of the traditional magic sphere, he elaborates, “almost all my inspiration comes from outside of magic, from film, music, artists and painters”. A particular emphasis is set on film as he expresses his love for them, in hopes to work with surreal directors such as David Lynch.
“I think it’s important to look outside of magic, because magic has in the past been slow to keep up with fashion, so the only way to keep up with fashion is to look at what is fashionable, if you look only at magic then you’ll be stuck in the past forever.”
“Magic is a funny word” he goes on to explain. “It has all these clichés attached to it, like the magician pulling out a rabbit from his Top Hat.” For Ben, however, the word magic doesn’t really mean anything other than giving an ultimately marvellous experience, conjuring a sense of awe and wonder within them, and not just through a card trick, but through a route with an abundance of options.
Ben will be starring in the upcoming BBC Three series ‘Killer Magic’, which centres around five magicians with five very differing personalities, who are competing against one another to perform the most mind-blowing magic trick based on a theme each week. As each vote on the other, the loser must suffer a forfeit that has killed or injured a magician in the past. Donned as ‘The Gent’ on the programme, Ben most definitely possesses a boyish charm and charisma that seeps through his stance both on and off stage, a natural charm that cannot be attributed to illusion.
As I sat there and listened, I imagined the makings of his mind whilst attempting to decipher the tricks to some of his greatest illusions. His mind operated like clockwork, paying fine attention to detail and incorporating both logic and imagination to create a spectacle. As with all great masters, an aspect such as magic takes time to perfect, and although Ben has had his fair share of hiccups along the way, he also manages to work them to his advantage.
“Mistakes happen all the time, but a mistake isn’t actually a mistake, it’s only a mistake if the audience knows what you were going to do in the first place, whereas if you embrace chance, yes you’re going to make a tonne of mistakes, but you’re also going to have a tonne of amazing things happen that wouldn’t have happened if you were sticking to a predetermined route”.
Ben recalls one of his most challenging tricks to date; “I did a trick in my underwear in an ice bar at minus 5 degrees, and that was really hard because it was really cold, it would’ve been bad enough to do that in my underwear in a normal room, let alone in a freezing cold one, so that was difficult. And of course when you see it on camera, it’s got all the gloss of television over it, the reality was, I was a shivering mess talking gibberish afterwards. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I had hypothermia, but I was probably getting close, and the stress of filming is bad enough anyway”
Above all, it is his pure sense of passion of magic and creativity as one entity that makes Ben Hart a successful magician. He elaborates, “what appeals to me is the pure form of creativity because there are no boundaries; you think it and you make it happen. When I sit down to come up with ideas, I won’t say ‘let’s come up with a card trick’ for example, because that’s already limiting the possibilities, it’s much more about what could we do that would be so memorable, so surreal, so bizarre that that person is never going to forget it.”
Alchemist. Illusionist. Magician; Ben possesses the wand to release the untapped creativity within magic that is longing to be awakened.
Ben we be starring in Killer Magic on BB3 on 24th March 2015
Follow Ben on Twitter: @itsbenhart