When creating magic within a workshop, lighting and sound effects are probably the best allies. Whether it's a magical environment, introducing magical beings or doing magic 'tricks', always remember that some participants may have hearing or sight impairments, so a range of multisensory resources should be employed to enable access for all participants, either through sound, textures or visuals.
Magical Environments: Aim to engender surprise and wonder. Lighting is very important for setting the scene, whether a magical underwater world teaming with strange and beautiful creatures, lit blue/green with flowing organza reflecting the light, or a woodland glade, hung with fairy lights.
Projections are useful for creating landscapes or introducing dynamic elements to the background - a herd of galloping horsemen, or a ballroom full of dancers
The sound effects that go with these kinds of projections enhance the experience for those who cannot see them and bring a sense of realism to those who can.
Magical characters add to the mystery, whether they be puppets or role playing artists. They can introduce hidden 'magical' props reinforcing a certain theme or activity, or appear and disappear like magic themselves. Pay particular attention to the introduction of such characters - they may be heard before they are seen perhaps to build suspense. They should be well lit to focus attention, the ‘million candle torches’ are good for this as they are light and portable so can move with the character from participant to participant or around the space. The character may introduce magic spells or lead participants on a specific journey. Masks and costume are key to keeping actor's identity hidden, but don't make them too scary!
Lots of interesting ‘magical’ items can be found in the shops but can also be cheaply made i.e. a plastic bottle or paper bag with coloured LED lights inside can be just as engaging and magical as disco spinners, electrical orbs and dream torches.
Planting a seed and watching a tree grow is still a wonder of nature. This can be achieved using brown cloth for the trunk, topped with green leaves, which is raised using a pulley at a distance. Magic!
One way of including taste in the multisensory magic kit is using food colouring to turn clear water/lemonade into coloured drinks. A few drops of colour in the bottom of the glass will change the water like magic when poured on top.
A one way mirror is great for making objects and people appear and disappear; when lit from the front, you can see your reflection, when lit from behind, you can see who’s hiding there. (See Mirrors)
UV lighting is magical in itself; watching costumes and set turn bright white or glow in the dark is fascinating. UV paint can be used to enhance costumes. UV scarves, streamers, soft rubbery toys, armbands, waistcoats, facepaints - all kinds of things that respond to UV light can now be sourced easily and cheaply.
Shadow work is another way of creating magical effects. For small objects to appear so large on a screen is a wonder to behold and it is surprising how many participants get the connection.
Sound effects can be used in many ways - to compliment the theme, with vocals/sounds/music appearing from nowhere like magic or in a more focused way.
When someone is using a microphone, adding reverb and echo enhances the sound of the voice and gives the participant time to realise it is them making the sounds. It also gives options for call and response and encourages increased vocalisation.
Hiding a small speaker in a suitcase, box or bag and sending a voice or sound through it produces multiple ways of creating magical effects.
The theremin is a magical instrument, producing sounds in response to your movement in the air around it. If you have access to one of these, you can create your own magic.