Caracas, World Magic Festival

May 2002

Summary : Arriving in Venezuela  /  On the bill  /  The cities  /  Security  /  Meeting people  /  Meeting the great painter Oswaldo Vigas

read more below

Caracas 06.2002 théâtre Ateneo x2_modifié-1

from left to right: Ernest, Louis, Yunke’s assistant, Yunke’s wife, Yunke, Michelle – picture X

Arriving in Venezuela : Travelling from the Australian Gold Coast to Venezuela (with just a few days in Paris in between) feels like doing the splits : 2/3 of the trip round the world, 14 hours time difference. We left a tidy and orderly world, a permanent “occidental style” holiday place, to move to a Venezuela full of rumors, worrying about the coming day, and with a President Chavez who is hated by the middle class. A very few weeks after the failed coup, some people hesitate spending for leisure.

However, Jorge Dikstin, our local Producer and Gustavo Lorgia, the Colombian artistic Director, were brave enough to continue the Tour of the second World Magic Festival 2002. Bravo!

Some other international productions touring Venezuela were cancelled.

And thank you to the enthusiastic audiences who attended the shows allowing the Tour to go on in the best possible conditions. They were right to come, as the show was a very good one and appearing at very good theaters.

On the bill, apart from Omar Pasha, were appearing :

the Russians Netcheporenko with their clever act, 1st price at the World Magic Congress FISM 1997,

Yunke, who used to be called : the young Spanish magician and who is now a strong performer of the new generation with his own style,

Gustavo Lorgia, from Colombia (the Tour artistic director), with a very professional presentation : big illusions and general magic,

read more below

Venezuela Maracaïbo to Caracas G.Lorgia 06.2002_modifié-1

Gustavo Lorgia in the plane from Maracaibo to Caracas

Merpin, the energetic Argentinean, who gets hilarious reactions through both his gags and his cranky magic,

David from Hungaria with his nice and classical manipulations, between others with pipes [this is the occasion to remember the nice pipes-act of our French friend Michel Fontaine, during the 60’s and ’70’s], replaced after Caracas by

Mirko, young and subtle magician from Buenos-Aires, with his poetic act,

Sonny Fontana, inventive magician from Venezuela, with his shadows act.

The Tour went to the north-east of the country, in the capital city Caracas, in Maracay, Valencia, Maracaibo, Barquisimeto and Coro. The theaters were very good, being recent or classical, like in Valencia, where the Teatro Municipal built during the XIX century, is listed as a historic building. See also Maracaibo and Coro

The cities are built without any visible town planning. There is a mixture of towers (often based upon plans of inventive architects), of buildings with gloomy colors, from the previous decades or private houses highly protected with bars at every window and surrounded by high walls. At the peripheries, they are the “barrios”, poor areas with unfinished houses, made of red bricks and without any roughcast, like the Brazilian “favelas”.

The city centers often used to be the former colonial cities. They are sometimes well restored, but are too often in a neglected state. Even when half destroyed, they are used as old style shops. The shopping centers are either quite popular or elegant and very expensive. The very fashionable and sumptuous “Sambil” is right in the city of Caracas. Outside of it, a gigantic video screen displays day and night its adverts and presents every few minutes the World Magic Festival with short excerpts of every act.

Security is a daily topic, warnings are constant and seem almost exaggerated. Nevertheless, it is not safe to walk alone at night. In Valencia, the hotel is closeby to the theatre and somebody from the Production walks with us at night after the show. In Maracaibo, when we have dinner at a restaurant at night, the taxi is called by phone (“a taxi you can trust”) as in Colombia. An armed guard, carrying a gun on his shoulder, the finger on the trigger, takes us to the car, closes the door and checks the car as it leaves.

Meeting people :The Venezuelans are nice people, peaceful and endlessly chatty. Elected mainly by the poor people, the President Chavez worries and makes the other citizens tense. They can’t stop their anti-government talks. [We arrived in the country just a very short while after the April coup and the comeback of Chavez in power.] “Something is going to happen”, “Expect some event for the coming week-end”, “The month will not come to its end without …”, “You will get to know about something before the end of the year”. During that period of time we have the feeling that the country becomes paralyzed, that business is going worse and worse and that everything seems to turn into a vicious circle. Yet Venezuela is a rich country. It is the 4th oil producer in the world and has enormous natural resources and important agricultural possibilities.

The meetings with Venezuelan magicians are numerous and very friendly : private encounters or parties with diploma presentation and gifts, with the San Juan Bosco Magic Circle, the AVAM (Venezuelan Association for Magic Arts), Lisha, Mandrake, Metusan, the young French Hyp Nauze and many others.

read more below

Numériser 30_modifié-1

diploma presentation by the San Juan Bosco Magic Circle President – picture X 

read more below

Numériser 29_modifié-1

diploma of the San Juan Bosco Magic Circle

We have also had kind and friendly meetings with the Cultural Attaché and the Advisor to Cultural Co-operation and Action of the French Embassy in Caracas.

Oswaldo Vigas : It is not possible to end without mentioning a very special encounter. We were visiting with a great interest a temporary painting exhibition at the Caracas Contemporary Art Museum : “Ideografias de Paris, 1952 / 57” from the Venezuelan painter Oswaldo Vigas.

What a surprise and a pleasure to meet there by chance the artist himself. It was the first of quite a few meetings, which were going to happen in the following days, at the theatre where we appeared, then at his place and in his workshop.

read more below

Caracas 05-06 2002 avec O. Vigas_modifié-1

With Oswaldo Vigas at his place – picture Mrs Vigas

They were such great times, with him and his wife Jeanine (from Montauban / France, expressing herself with a lovely South of France accent). Without hesitation, Oswaldo Vigas is one of the important painters from the XX. Century, being a significant link in the contemporary painting history. He has met his French and international peers and he works in the same spirit as they do (or did). But also, his work (painting as well as sculpture and ceramic), is filled with the culture, the myths, colors and dramas of his Latin America. After his Parisian experience during the Fifties, he preferred to return to his native Venezuela. Meeting that man, already elderly but with a young man’s soul, constantly looking for new fields and experiences, always ready for new struggles or (more simply) … to take us, late in the evening, to the best ice cream parlor of Caracas, was a true discovery and a real emotion.

Oswaldo Vigas passed away in Caracas on 22 April 2014 at the age of 87.

Omar Pasha from France makes objects, and even people, vanish under the astounded audience’s watchful eye.

El Mundo, Caracas - 3 May 2002