Over the past few years, the field of performance art has been blooming in Brunei. The country has witness its own fair share of plays, stand-up performance and even art festivals. However, there is one that has always been under the radar for the longest time – magic performances. We at Sutera, managed to catch the master in sleight of hand himself, Mohammad Nurul Akmal bin Jamil of Magication studios, for an exclusive interview regarding the art of performing magic in the Sultanate.
Everything started for Akmal in the early days of 2004 while watching a magician perform tricks at one of the places he worked at.
“I first saw a magician performing on stage while working at a restaurant. I approached him backstage and asked how he did all those tricks but he wouldn’t tell me – it has something to do with the magician’s oath,” said Akmal as he recalled his first encounter with magic.
The encounter seeded a deep interest of magic which led him to research more about the secrets of being a magician. With the knowledge he gained, he started practicing the illusions in front of his families and friends. After an overwhelmingly positive response from his peers, Akmal’s audience grew; leading him to partake in both public and private events. One of his crowning achievements would be when he was selected to represent Brunei in a magic competition called Thailand International Magic Extravaganza in Bangkok, Thailand.
“I started with doing close up magic using cards and coins but now, I’ve begun performing more stage magic manipulation – which I think is quite difficult as it involves a lot of skills, hand coordination, stage choreography and even music editing,” mentioned Akmal regarding evolving his magic to a grander scale.
Unfortunately, no amount of magic is able to make some challenges he faced disappear. Akmal pointed out on the lack of magic shops in the country, making it hard for magicians to get their props as getting them online can be quite expensive.
“Another challenge would be the general acceptance of magic from the public. They would think that magic is only for kids, not real and are only done to fool people. Little did they know that it is actually our job to entertain the crowd, just like the people of the performing arts of singing or dancing – we did it through magic,” said Akmal regarding few of the challenges he faced.
Persevering through the hardships, Akmal managed to entertain people with his magic and generate some side income. In the future, he hoped to conjure a big magic event in Brunei, inviting some international and local magicians to perform as well.
“I believe it might be an up and coming profession for young people in Brunei. However, if you are just starting out, make sure to start small – perhaps using cards and coins, and get some tutoring from other magicians; not just from the internet. Practice yourself to perform in front of a live audience – trust me, it will improve your skills a lot as it helps build your crowd interaction skills. Lastly, never give up and don’t be afraid to fail,” stated Akmal as his final message to the youths of Brunei.
Checkout more of his magic tricks in his Instagram account