An original Teatro ZinZanni cast member, the Ukrainian-born illusionist known as Maestro Voronin is appearing in his 23rd show created for the spiegeltent on Mercer Street. During "When Sparks Fly," the popular dinner-and-a-show theater becomes a laboratory devoted to mad and magical science. As always, acrobatics are done with the greatest of ease while the “minions” create comic havoc between the courses.
Voronin’s children also appeared at ZinZanni earlier this summer, performing in the company’s “Dream On,” a daytime show for younger audiences.
Although Voronin stays silent when performing as part of his character, he was willing to answer a few questions via email with the help of translator Julia Ochs.
Growing up, who were the magicians that you most admired?
Well, at the time there were two names: Igor Kio and Arutyun Akopyan – well-known Soviet/Russian circus performers and illusionists. There were a couple of magazines, “Yunyi Technic” (“Young Technician”) and “Nauka i Zhizn” (“Science And Life”) in which sometimes those two disclosed the technique of some of their tricks. I used to collect the clippings from those magazines.
What trick would you like to see over and over again.... but also want to keep mysterious, and not actually know how it was done?
Huh, they asked Akopyan a similar question once, and he described a trick he saw. Whoever performed it, would light up a cigarette, then put it out and throw it in an ashtray. The cigarette gets right in the ashtray. Then he would step a few meters away and light up another cigarette, put it out and throw it in the ashtray and the cigarette gets right into the ashtray. He then stepped even further away from the ashtray and repeated the whole routine. Every time the cigarette would get right into the ashtray – no matter how far he was from it. I did not see it myself and I did not know how it was done, I remember I was watching the interview and I immediately started thinking about ways to do this trick. You see, even if I don’t know the exact secret, I can always come up with my own technique. But there are times when I just want to enjoy the trick even when I don’t know how it’s done. Right now there is one trick, it’s a manipulation done by a Korean magician, and I don’t know yet how he does it, I am sure I’ll learn it at some point, but for now I just like to watch it, admire and enjoy.
When your children come to you for advice about performing, what do you tell them?
I try to be very careful with criticizing them, so they don’t get discouraged. The thing is I am just happy to see them perform. For me, as a father, this is the greatest joy to come to a kids’ show and see my kids perform in it. In general we always tell them that on stage one has to be an individual. Every performer has to be able to be creative and original, has to develop his or her own technique, and express his or her individuality. I explain to them that confidence is key. You have to be confident. If you lack confidence, play off of it – exaggerate it to the level where it becomes funny, then you get into this clown character, who is not sure of what he is doing and therefore makes everyone laugh. Once you exaggerate and over-play your self-doubt to the grotesque degree, it goes away and you start feeling confident. Another piece of advice I give them is to work hard on their tricks and techniques and come up with ideas now while they are young and have the time. The older you get, the less time you have for practicing and inventing. So, now for them is the time, and the more you work on your technique, the more confident you get.
You've traveled the world but returned many times to Seattle. What do you like the best about the audiences here?
The Seattle audience is wonderful. I like their response and reactions. I enjoy their simplicity and innocence. They are very appreciative and emotional and I like that. In general, Americans as an audience are very grateful and they are not afraid to show it.
“When Sparks Fly” continues through Sept. 21 at Teatro ZinZanni, 222 Mercer Street. Check the company’s website for times and ticket prices.