Articles about Ben Robinson
A MAGICAL ASSEMBLY by Olivia Koppell
with Cherie Quain
(an abbreviated review printed in The Horace Mann Bulletin, June 2005)
Ben Robinson, Master of Illusion, treated the Upper Division to a multimedia presentation exhibiting the more intellectual side of this fascinating craft, even elevating it to a form of art, as John Mulholland (’19) himself did over 80 years ago.
He (Robinson) was introduced by Magic Club co-Presidents Benn Sann and Greg Lotsvin. The ever graceful and commanding presence of Robinson illuminated the stage as incandescent lighting provided the backdrop for a mood of mystery. A capacity-filled Gross Theatre readily braced themselves for a most unusual assembly. The show began with a film about the life and times of Mulholland, student and teacher at Horace Mann in the early 1900’s, and a fascinating person. Math teacher, Richard Somma, “liked the idea of combining history and entertainment; that it had to do with Horace Mann made it all the more special.”
Following the film, Robinson charmed the audience with subtle moves of his nimble fingers which transformed four pieces of paper into one whole again (while impaled on a hatpin), and in the blink of an eye, his hands fileld with rings which seemed to appear from nowhere. Perhaps the most egaging part of the show was the way Robinson interacted with his audience, interplaying humor with the more cerebral part of his work.
Perhaps what delighted so many was Robinson’s foray into being a very accomplished psychic…A grand finale of levitation left the audience hungry for more. “I thought the part about the floating girl was so amazing REALLY,” exclaimed Matt Lowe. In fact, for many in the audience, the magic wouldnot end. According to Will Taub, “this was really entertaining.” Other student commented “it was a really good way to start the day,” it was a nice change for students and teachers,” and Co-Dean, Grade 9-12 Randal Castleman commented, “I think we needed a little fun around here. The kids work hard, the teachers work hard, the administration works hard. To take a little break, have a little fun, and take the pressure off is a really good idea.”
Robinson also set up an exhibit, in Olshan Lobby, of personal items and photos that belonged to Mulholland. It made a nice addition to the program. Parent Janet Marks, thught it, “was wonderful that kids were exposed to a former HM student who became so successful in life as a multifaceted person, demonstrating the strength of a good education.”
Robinson met with the Magic Club later and said Benn Sann, “Robinson began by discussing magic devices such as the importance of misdirection…Mr. Robinson then proceeded to perform very impressive close-up magic, and taught everyone a few effects using the techniques he previously discussed.”
Robinson remarked about his audience, “What did Mulholland have? A real spark for learning that (I see) continues here today.”