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The Art of Stage Magic

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

By Jaein Park and Liliana Chai Dec. 14, 2023

The crowd erupts into screams as renowned magician Matt Franco steps onto the blinding lights of the America’s Got Talent stage once again. Anticipation fills the room while the eyes of both the audience and judges follow his hands laying out cards in front of the judges with a mysterious expression. From 2500 BCE to the present, stage magic has demonstrated a profound ability to captivate audiences’ hearts worldwide.

The earliest recorded magic performance was by a magician named Dedi in 2500 BCE in Egypt—portrayals of his animal decapitation trick were found on Egyptian papyrus and in paintings on the walls of Baquet III’s tomb. However, little is known about magic from 400 to 1500 CE. Because access to education and the ability to read and write were limited in medieval societies, only a small group of people were able to document their experiences. In 1584, “The Discoverie of Witchcraft,” written by Reginald Scot, argued that people should not be executed for performing simple magic tricks—a stark contrast to the fear of magic that was prevalent during the dark ages. The 18th century saw the emergence of conjuring as a form of distinct art that began to involve large-scale performances.

The late 19th century and the early 20th century brought upon the era of “The Golden Age of Magic” with magic quickly evolving into a popular form of public entertainment. While Robert-Houdin brought magic to theaters in Paris, John Henry Anderson—one of the earliest magicians with a worldwide renowned name—also opened up his own theater, the New Strand Theatre, in London. To this day, the golden age of magic has influenced modern society by setting a foundation for well-known magic tricks and magic arenas for magicians to showcase their talents.

“Magic has a positiv

e effect on society because it is an outlet for creative expression and entertainment. Magic brings joy to many people, including both the audience and the performers,” Sophomore Faye Ooi said.

One magician who rose to fame in the late 19th century was Harry Houdini. He developed a wide variety of magic tricks, his most famous type being escapology. He rose to fame through a play, “Water Torture Cell,” where he had to escape from being upside down in a water-filled cabinet. This grabbed the attention of audiences from around the world, who recognized his talent, showmanship and hard work. Another world-renowned magician is David Copperfield, a famous illusionist known for his innovative storytelling in his performances. One of his most iconic illusions was Death Saw, where he appeared to be sawed in half.

“The ability of illusion magic to turn simple designs into something really trippy makes it fun to watch while trying to decipher patterns. I would like to see more physical magic evolve, such as by using chemicals to create reactions,” Senior Judy Sohn said.

In recent times, magic has become increasingly popular due to its hold on the entertainment industry and social media. Stage magic grabs people’s attention through its combination of skills, techniques and entertainment. Whether it is ancient tricks or modern illusions, magic has an ability to make people of all ages and backgrounds forget reality for a moment in their wonder and amazement.


About the Contributors

Jaein Park is a freshman at Leland High School and is a new staff writer for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys listening to NewJeans music, hanging out with her friends, and studying and learning something.

Liliana Chai is a freshman attending Leland High School and is an artist for the 2023-24 Charger Account. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, playing piano, sleeping, arts and crafts, and writing poetry. She is looking forward to Journalism and hopes to explore new ideas while collaborating with other people.

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