Magicians conjure new tricks to keep dazzling during outbreak
In late February, all of Tom DeVoe's scheduled gigs pulled a vanishing act on him over 48 hours due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The 31-year-old Singapore-based mentalist from Wales, who is usually booked for two shows each week and a corporate event every one to two weeks, was left with a calendar marked with cancellations and postponements.
He told The New Paper: "I made peace with the fact that I may be unemployed for the rest of 2020."
However, his 17-year passion for his craft pushed him to find ways to keep the show going.
After coming across videos of people singing together from their home balconies in Italy amid the lockdown, DeVoe - who has performed for brands such as Google, Spotify and Netflix - was inspired to spread some magic of his own.
He created a new fully interactive show where mentalism, the art of using psychology and trickery to appear to read people's minds, was possible through video calls and laptop screens.
He started offering them for free over Skype to front-line healthcare workers in the UK or individuals who were feeling down or lonely worldwide.
Despite facing initial scepticism from his former clients, he was soon hired by corporations to entertain their work-from-home staff and lift their spirits.
He hopes to perform for healthcare front-liners in Singapore, adding: "Being able to work again is indeed important since it pays the bills, but seeing people light up and smile for probably the first time in weeks is memorable."
Other local magicians also have new tricks up their sleeves.
To sustain his income, Sng Ming Da, 29, started selling a booklet he created containing over 50 simple magic tricks that can be done with items found around the home.
He has also been offering paid 45-minute virtual shows and online magic lessons to both private and corporate clients via Zoom. Sng, who used to be booked for eight to 10 shows monthly and up to 20 during busy months, said: "People are at home, looking for entertainment. Magic shows are interactive as opposed to video-streaming sites."
On the other hand, Alexander Yuen - also known as the iPad Magician - is stepping out of the spotlight to serve those behind the scenes.
The 33-year-old has been using his 3D printer, which he usually uses to print props for magic tricks, to make mask hooks and give them out to front-line workers for free.
He said: "I don't do online shows because I believe magic is about connecting with people. You lose the human touch which is important to the artistic aspect (of magic)."