Tom Stone – Main instructor
Johan Danielsson – Propmaking
Leif Olberius – Actors’ training
Simon Almers – Magic & technology
Johan Ståhl – Expanding venues
Håkan Berg – Passion & responsibility
Sofia Lerma – Feminism & Magic
Sara Rodriguez – On practicing
Alex Joseph (England)
Nikola Arkane (Ireland)
Carisa Hendrix (Canada)
Cat Boult (USA)
Jade Tjin (USA)
Kristina Zakimova (Russia)
Caroline Ravn (Sweden)
Stefan Eriksson (Sweden)
Anders Björkman (Sweden)
Vilhelm Boman (Sweden)
Roger Isberg (Sweden)
Håkan Berg (Sweden)
Tore Skytén (Sweden)
Martin Nilsson (Sweden)
Ondrej Psenika (Czech Republic)
Szymon Krzysztoszek (Poland)
Carlos Tomico (Spain)
Sara Rodrigues (Spain)
Sofia Lerma (Spain)
Peter Boldog (Hungary)
Merse Elod Gaspar (Hungary)
Abel Farkas (Hungary)
Daniel Kvarnlöf (Sweden)
Johan Ahlen (Sweden)
Jörgen Sondell (Sweden)
Robert Österman (Sweden)
Isidor Olsbjörk (Sweden)
Fredrik Höjman (Sweden)
Carl-Fredrik Zetterman (Sweden)
Per Johan Råsmark (Sweden)
Göran ”Dozzie” Sjöberg (Sweden)
This was the second year for the Conjuring Workshop at the Sigtuna Folkhögskola. Due to the success 2018, the workshop was doubled, to give more people the chance of attending.
As usual, the actual workshop was free of charge, the only cost was for the room and the meals.
In order to get some insight in what the attending people thought, we’ve asked one of the participants to describe her impressions.
Report by Cat Boult
“I can’t wait to go home” I thought.
As I lay there staring at the ceiling above my bed at the hostel, about 6 hours into my stay, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d made a terrible, horrible, career-ending mistake. I was starving1, grouchy and lonely. My body and mind were enacting that frustrating extremely-tired-but-extremely-awake jet-lagged joust. Most of all, however, I was downright terrified of what the next morning would bring.
A couple of weeks prior to arriving in Sweden, I’d made the mistake of reading the “to” email addresses on one of the course correspondences. Saw a few friends in there and some great magicians (not mutually exclusive), a lot of very international sounding names (oh, the accents!), and – oh no – a few true icons of the magic world.
This was the precise moment I began to wonder if I’d made a grave mistake.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Being accepted to the course was thrilling2. I’d long been a fan of Tom Stone’s work, and of IKEA, so I figured that Conjuring 2019 held in Sigtuna, Sweden would be right up my alley and applied with much enthusiasm. To be accepted? Joy!
Until I saw the email names.
Those names were haunting me. Would I be good enough? Am I about to walk into a room of total legends and make an idiot of myself? I hadn’t performed in a while due to working on behind the scenes projects and was frighteningly out of practice. Visions of clammy-handed coin work and fumbled thumb fans raced through my head, their pace increasing as my departure day drew near.
I rehearsed my inevitable class introduction over and over (and over) again in my head3. I knew the spiel: Hi, I’m Cat… *insert magical accomplishments and accolades and the type of magic I do and if I do magic full-time and how old I was when I started magic here*. My first impression.
I walked, in a haze of sleepy nervousness, into the theatre on the first morning, took a seat and awaited the introductions/impending feelings of inadequacy.
Neither of those things happened.
Now, I don’t want to spoil anything for you by describing the classes or the content in too much detail, but I will say that I can’t think of one lesson that wasn’t completely immersive and a valuable addition to my magical tool chest. Subjects ranged from the abstract to the concrete, incorporating theory, technique, challenging exercises and even – wait for it – making things (ooooooooooo!).
Needless to say, by the end of that first day I was feeling pretty great.
As the course went on, we had the opportunity to work with everyone in the class and rather than this being the final blow to my interest in magic due to some traumatically humiliating event in front of my peers and respected performers, it turned out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Everyone was in the same space; there was no judgment. Lots of little victories and little failures, all received with understanding, grace and humor. These were the very same judgmental monsters I was absolutely terrified of in the beginning, can you imagine?
I’ve never seen a group be more honest and vulnerable with each other in a magic class setting, and Tom’s teaching method facilitated that in the most beautiful way. He doesn’t teach AT you; he gives you guidance and then backs away and lets you apply the imparted knowledge yourself. Everything is hands-on. Additionally, the guest instructors were simply fantastic4 and I felt very privileged to be able to learn from each of them.
As I was crying on the last day, thanking Tom and my classmates, blubbering that I didn’t want to leave, I realized a transformation had occurred. Not just me going from “Everyone’s going to hate me and I’m going to be the worst at magic ever and I want to go home” to “I want to marry everyone here and write a giant magic act for all of us to perform together forever and never leave Sigtuna ever”, but something else. I felt driven, inspired and, most surprisingly, confident. I performed, failed and succeeded, in front of people whose opinions mean a lot to me… and I survived. I didn’t die from embarrassment and neither did anyone else. I learned so very very much from absolutely everybody and was forced to flex a creative muscle that had previously atrophied. I felt magical again and, as of this writing, I still do.
That was the true beauty of the workshop. It was never about accolades, experience, performing chops, or even magic tricks. It was about unlocking creative potential, learning with and from others, and learning about yourself as a person and a magician. Nobody was valued above the others; everybody contributed something beautiful, insightful and creative and EVERYONE was out of their comfort zone in one way or another. That introduction that I stressed out about? It never happened because we were introduced to each other by our participation, our creative collaborations and our enthusiasm for the art of magic. It was beautiful.
Oh, and for those unfamiliar with the concept of “Fika” …be prepared for your life to change.
– Cat Boult