‘Cop26 is dream gig’: Magic Circle chief wants to aid planet with climate show

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The first female president of the Magic Circle has said her dream gig would be to perform her environmental magic show in front of world leaders at the climate summit in Glasgow.

Megan Swann, 28, is the youngest person ever to be elected to a society set up in 1905 to guard the secrets of magicians. She is determined to use the role as a platform to call for action on the climate emergency.

And she is open to any last minute bookings at Cop26, which begins in Glasgow at the end of October.

“I would love to do it – I could do my entire show for them,” she said. Swann’s environmental routine, which she usually performs in front of children, includes tricks highlighting animal extinction, polluted oceans and saving energy.

She added: “It would be amazing to be invited. To do my environmental magic on a stage like that would be one hell of a gig. I don’t think it would be possible, but if I did it would be a real dream come true.”

Swann, who has been conjuring since she was five, describes a trick that she would most like to perform in front of world leaders.

Related: Boris Johnson’s climate speech annotated: what he said and what he meant

She said: “For Cop26 I would probably do my piece that describes the basic science of climate change. I have a clear balloon that represents the Earth’s atmosphere and I have a black ball that represents gases such as carbon dioxide. And that appears inside the balloon to show pumping those gases into the atmosphere.”

She added: “I proceed to use a needle to represent the sun’s energy and it gets stuck on the ball. It’s a really clear demonstration of the basic science behind climate change, which I’m sure they will know, but I think sometimes seeing it demonstrated really brings the message home.”

Swann reckons her experience of performing for children would help convey the basic message to world leaders.

She said: “There is something about demonstrating the message clearly and simply that really helps to get it home. Magic is a great communications tool. It engages people and it’s fun and memorable. If people can remember the magic trick they are more likely to remember the message that came with it. And that’s the key to getting action.”

In one simple routine Swann outlines various threats to wildlife and the planet while tearing up a piece of string. At the end of the trick the string is magically restored to convey the message that even seemingly impossible things are achievable.

Swann said: “I don’t just use any old magic trick and add a message to it, I think about what gets the message across clearly. I also have a routine about saving energy as well. For children I use lightbulbs, for adults I tend to use coins, to demonstrate that saving energy also saves money.”

Swann is keen to challenge outdated perceptions about the previously male-dominated world of magic.

She said: “A lot of people have an old-fashioned image of what a magician is and if you knew a lot of magicians you’d realise it is out of date. Their average age has really dropped and there are a lot of modern performers out there. I would love to see more women in magic. Having role models is really important.

“Magic for good is something I’m really passionate about. The Magic Circle has already helped me get my environmental message out there. It is a great platform and I will combine them as much as possible.”

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