This year, Magicorp Productions was asked to help produce the first ever Festival of Magic in Havana, Cuba. Although we were honored, and have put on other festivals in the past, we had no idea of the trials and tribulations that lay ahead of us. Since Cuba is a communist country that is in many ways still stuck in the 1950’s, producing this festival suddenly became less straightforward than usual. However, we were of course excited and up for the challenge!
Havana is an exciting city filled with warm, wonderful, welcoming people and with its own unique charm. But, one of the first things that struck us when visiting Cuba was how ill prepared we were for the lack of many everyday conveniences that we we’ve all grown accustomed to in the U.S.
For example, very few places accept credit cards, which meant we had to carry cash with us at all times. There are also no ATM’s, so we were forced to really think though our financial needs of the trip in advance and get the cash needed beforehand. Very much unlike the U.S., Havana has no fast food restaurants or convenience stores, which meant we had to plan our meals out in advance, rather than assuming we would be able to find something wherever we were going. Finally, with very little if any internet access available, we had to plan our communications and directions in advance. While these are obviously all easily surmountable hurtles, it just takes a little getting used to when there’s no GPS to get you places or google to get you the answer you need as we are all now so accustomed to.
Magicorp’s first responsibility for planning this festival was to bring in world class magicians from around the world. Luckily for us, this wasn’t very hard. We reached out to a large number of performers that we work with regularly, and almost everyone said “I’m in” right away because of their desire to visit Cuba as well as the opportunity to work with an amazing cast.
Once we had the performers, we needed to pick venues. This is when things got a little more difficult! From hotel ballrooms to theaters to night clubs, we visited everywhere in Havana that we could. However, it was rare when we’d find the ideal location. Some venues were in need of renovations, some were difficult to get to, and others had outdated technical capabilities. The managers of all these options were great and bent over backwards to show off their venues to us, which in some cases made it more difficult to say no to them, however we knew that we needed to choose the venues carefully.
The Festival of Magic will be this November, so this was just the start of our preparations. Stay tuned on the blog as we will be sharing more stories and updates along the way as we gear up for this amazing event!