In a professional video he created for the “Tower of Talent” fundraiser for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on the City Springs stage, Ari Isenberg demonstrated the card manipulation skills he has mastered since he began performing magic 11 years ago at age 6. In the three-minute video, Ari locates and displays cards that appear from a randomly shuffled deck, each one exactly matching a number he recites as part of a compelling story about the importance of the fundraising event.
Not only did Ari, a junior at The Galloway School, perform the magic, he also created the video, combining skills he acquired as a filmmaker and actor into a single, captivating performance.
The Tower of Talent video is far from Ari’s first charitable use of his magical skills. In connection with his bar mitzvah weekend in 2015, Ari organized a magic benefit show with three professional magicians he befriended, raising more than $6,000 for two charities, including the Blonder Family Department for Developmental Disabilities at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. Ari’s grandfather was Jerry Blonder, for whom Jerry’s Habima Theatre is named.
Ari has also repeatedly donated magic performances for My Sister’s House (a homeless shelter) and Amy’s Holiday Party (benefiting children and families in need), and recently gave his time to entertain guests at a holiday party for the MARR Addiction Treatment Center.
I caught up with Ari recently, after he had finished performing in Galloway’s production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” which won first place at the Georgia High School Association’s One Act Play State Championships.
Marcia: You are weaving in acting, photography and videography with your magic experiences. How does that work?
Ari: I love to perform and make people happy, whether it’s just to give my friends a break at school or to brighten someone’s day who isn’t feeling well or who isn’t in a good place. All of my interests are related, and Galloway is very supportive, whether I’m doing a solo magic show for our school’s Fall Fun Fest or performing as part of the theater group.
Marcia: How do mentors and networks of magicians connect?
Ari: The magic community is very supportive, especially of young magicians. I’ve attended magic conventions in several cities, where I’ve met some fantastic professional magicians who I now consider real friends. I was very fortunate to be picked as a “Star of Tomorrow” at the Society of American Magicians’ convention in 2015, and I now work behind the scenes at Magi-Fest, one of the largest magic conventions in the country, in Columbus, Ohio.
Marcia: What’s your coolest trick?
Ari: Actually, I shy away from the word “trick” because I think it’s a negative word that incites an audience to put up its guard in fear of being fooled or deceived. I prefer the word “experience.” One of my favorite experiences was performing Houdini’s famous “metamorphosis” illusion, where I was handcuffed, tied up in a bag, and locked inside a wooden crate. Then, I instantly changed places with my cousin on stage!
Marcia: How will this play out in college and your 10-year plan?
Ari: I hope to major in some combination of acting, filmmaking and photography. Long term, I want to write my own shows and perform in more close-up, intimate settings.
Marcia: Given your love of acting, do you have any favorite lines from your recent performance in “Twelfth Night”?
Ari: As the great Count Malvolio says, “Some people are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”