CATCHING UP WITH DARCY OAKE
BY LIZ CRAWFORD
With shows that are unique, raw and nothing short of amazing, Winnipeg's own Darcy Oake has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. With performances at the Magic Castle in Hollywood and being a finalist on Season 8 of Britain’s Got Talent, Darcy's career has been far from what one might call ordinary. We caught up with Darcy to ask him a few questions about his journey to becoming an illusionist.
Considering you began training at the age of seven and knowing what you know now, what advice would you give young Darcy about the path to a career in magic?
Don’t stress out about not being good enough. You have to be bad before you can be good. The illusions and performance take a long time to master and can only be honed over time. I used to really stress out if I felt some material didn’t hit. But everything in the show is an evolution that takes time to perfect.
Your family appears to be very supportive, often noted as the crew and on site management in your early career. Was there a defining moment when your parents realized that this was no longer a passion but a career, A successful one at that?
I think it was once they noticed that I wasn’t focusing at all on university because I spent all of my time working on the show. They realized I was obsessed and have been nothing but supportive. They have never once said “I think you need to get a real job” but rather always approached it as “when is your next show?"
In your final performance for Britain’s got talent, the terrifying escape, the clock was ticking and there was a video playing in the background - A video of moments throughout your life. What was the significance of that video for you?
The addition of that video is something I’m very proud of. The audience needs to be personally invested in the performer in order for a dangerous piece like that to really work. The video of me growing up in the background is something I feel everyone can relate to.
When you do your Darcy Oake research one cannot help but note that you are often referred to as the "sexy magician". There must be a great deal of physical training that goes into your work. Do you have a specific training routine?
I don’t necessarily have one specific routine. I tend to go hard in the gym when there is a physically-demanding illusion to train for. I exercise lightly in-between projects, but when there is an endurance stunt or a specific piece that requires physicality I will train for that specifically. Basically, if I have to take my shirt off on stage, I will go crazy in the gym!
If you had to choose, what would you say has been the highlight of your journey so far?
There are two: performing on Britain’s Got Talent, and the performance for the Queen of England on her 90th birthday.
you Are a global success, but roots so entrenched in Manitoba. What is your favourite place or fondest memory of your hometown?
My favourite thing about Manitoba is the people. I’ve been fortunate to travel around the world but always look forward to returning to friendly Manitoba! My fondest memories would have to be spending summers up at the lake, something I don’t get a chance to do much anymore.
You’re en route to South Africa next, what has been the greatest take away from this whole experience of touring and performing?
The greatest take away from touring is experiencing many different parts of the world and seeing how magic and illusion give an equal experience to everyone. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what you do, how rich or how poor you are, magic affects everyone in the exact same way.
What are your goals for the future? As an illusionist and performer, and as an individual?
Overall, my goals are to keep doing what I’m doing and keep sharing wonder and magic with as many people as possible. My goal from the beginning was to make this a career and I’ve been fortunate to have checked many things off my bucket list thanks to this career path I’ve chosen. I’m just grateful to be able to do what I love for a living.
Last question, The Bruce Oake recovery centre, a passionate endeavour in memory of your brother Bruce. The Bruce Oake recovery centre is a much needed non profit facility that offers a broader approach to addiction treatment. What is it about this model that differs from what is currently available in Manitoba and how can others support this incredible initiative?
When someone is in dire need of treatment, they don’t always have the available finances to get the help they need and deserve. We believe long term treatment is the key. We’ve seen how successful long term treatment can be. Instead of participating in a program for 40 or 60 days and then being back on your own, we feel the long-term format where people can stay for as long as they need can be more successful in a lot of circumstances. Winnipeg needs a facility like this, and we’ve been making some great progress.