Take a back seat, Harry Potter: Las Vegas puts Hogwarts in the shade any day of the week, and it’s to this nerve centre of high rollers, illusion and neon that a 16-year-old Camps Bay schoolboy is headed and where he will mingle with the world’s master magicians.
Mert Güven has been working at magic every week since he was 10.
Passionate about the craft, but he’s not your typical thaumaturge: Mert hopes to study a BCom after school, and when he’s not pulling the proverbial bunny out of the proverbial hat, he’s playing sport – no, not quidditch, but 1st team rugby.
He’s out on the field as a prop in the school team for Saturday morning rugby matches. Afterwards, he goes to class at the Magic Club in Cape Town.
Mert fell in love with magic when he saw a show called Imagine at the Artscape.
Imagine, is just what he did, and he begged his parents to let him study the arcane arts at the Magic Club.
“ I asked if I could join the school for my 10th birthday. They’ve taken me through every step in the last six years,” he says.
There’s a junior level at the magic school and then a more senior level that involves props and illusions.
“You then get into tricks that take up to months of practice to get right, we learn everything except for fire magic,” says Mert, a Vredehoek resident.
He says he was blown away when he heard he had been accepted to take part in the International Magic Convention – he’d had to email the organisers, motivating his reasons for wanting to go.
As it turned out, that email had a magic touch all of its own.
“It was amazing … all the experiences that are going to come are going to be even better,” he says.
“We get three days of non-stop magic, talks and performing for some of the top magicians in the world. We will also have dinner with them and go to some of the shows.”
Mert says magic is always something he wanted to do and his parents’ encouragement has kept him going.
”My parents pushed me through even when I wanted to quit one year because of high school. Now I am finally at my final year at the (magic) school.”
He’d like to start teaching magic after he finishes high school, fitting it in between his studies
“I see myself doing it as a career. Along with my friends, we have our own acts that we have been working on.”
Some of the acts, says Mert, can take up to six months to master.
“We want to use our personalities to tell people what the next generation of magic should look like, instead of being your typical magician.”
His school friends congratulated him on being selected for the convention.
“The first thing they asked me, straight away, was to show them a trick,” joked Mert
After six years of training, he says being on stage and performing feels natural to him.
“Even if something goes wrong with the magic, we can grab a piece of paper or cups and do something with it.”
His mother, Angela, is proud of her son’s achievements.
“As soon as high school started, he felt like quitting. Juggling rugby and magic when you have a passion for both is very difficult.
“Magic can open up so many doors for you, in your confidence, ability to communicate and hold a stage presence. The whole family is very proud of him, and it is an achievement that he’s worked for six years to get. He’s the top miming student at the college. I think he especially loves the miming because he is a joker.”