Sat, 06 Mar 1999

Magical messages to spread at TIM

JAKARTA (JP): When talking about magical illusions, we often think about the fascinating performances of David Copperfield or the spectacular shows of Sigfried and Roy -- entertainment far from the realities of daily life.

However, performing illusionist Paulus Budiraharjo, alias Paul Matapuzh, has a different idea. "Illusion is nothing more than a combination of different skills. The performance depends merely on the illusionist himself," he said. "I try to entertain my audiences as well as teach them to be more critical about what they see."

Paul, who will perform at Taman Ismail Marzuki on Sunday, at 11 a.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., should know what he is talking about. He teaches psychology at the Atma Jaya University and has been a performing illusionist for more than 15 years.

He regards himself as an artist whose aim it is to entertain his audience as well as convey a message: "Don't rely on your perception, be critical about what you see."

Contradictory as it may seem, Paul tries to use his illusions not only to entertain, but also to portray reality.

Paul has been interested in magic since he was a child growing up in Surabaya. Being fascinated by the performances of magicians he saw on TV, he decided to become a magician himself.

"I owe a lot to my teacher Max Gunawan," said Paul, who was taught for free in Surabaya. "He taught me all the basic skills one has to know to be able to get a better understanding of the issue."

Even today, Paul is still fascinated with world-known magicians like David Copperfield. "His shows are very rich in symbolism. It's not about letting the Statue of Liberty disappear, but making the audience think about the consequence if it was to happen in reality."

Modern illusion is a well-organized show displaying skills as well as making use of modern technology. For his upcoming show Lolos dari Maut (Escaping from Death), the 33-year-old magician is working with a team of 15 people, including professional dancers and technicians.