“Unlocking the Secrets of Enigmatic Entertainment: A Look Behind the Curtain”


David Kwong became captivated by the world of magic and puzzles at a young age of seven, when a family trip to a pumpkin patch sparked his interest in what would later become a lifelong pursuit. Witnessing a magician perform a classic trick involving a red sponge ball left a lasting impression on him. The magician made one ball disappear from his hand, only for two to mysteriously appear when he opened his palm. This moment not only amazed young David, but also challenged his perception of knowledge, as even his father, a respected biochemist, was unable to explain the secrets behind the trick. It was at that moment that David knew he was destined for a future immersed in the world of magic and puzzles.

Daniel Kwong, a renowned New York Times crossword constructor, has transformed his childhood love for puzzles and magic into a successful career. His unique and immersive show, The Enigmatist, combining elements of cryptology and magic, will be showcased at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CSTfor a month-long engagement. Rick Boynton, the creative producer at CST, was deeply impressed by Kwong’s ability to seamlessly merge the worlds of magic and puzzles during a performance at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse. Having previously collaborated with acclaimed magician Teller on productions like The Tempest and Macbeth, Boynton knew that Kwong would be an ideal addition to the Chicago Shakespeare team.

In reference to two Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CSTproductions showcasing impressive illusions crafted by one member of the renowned magic duo Penn and Teller, it is believed that these shows sparked a dialogue among audiences regarding the art of magic. According to Kwong, these performances set the stage for David’s show to be a captivating addition to this ongoing conversation. The CST venue was deemed ideal for hosting the show as it not only tells a local Chicago story but also delves into the intriguing quest to uncover hidden messages within Shakespeare’s works. Kwong drew inspiration from his fascination with Riverbank, an extravagant estate located in the western suburbs of Geneva, which served as the muse for The Enigmatist.

George Fabyan, a dedicated individual with a passion for science and unconventional pursuits, established a private research facility. According to Kwong, , Fabyan engaged several scholars in explorations for hidden codes within the works of Shakespeare. Among them were Elizebeth Smith and William Friedman, who demonstrated remarkable expertise in code decryption and were subsequently recruited by the government as the nation’s inaugural code breakers. Following extensive investigations at Riverbank and the New York Public Library, Kwong crafted a narrative inspired by this historical journey, reflecting his personal quest.

The performance features a variety of mind games, enigmas, encrypted messages, and illusions. According to Kwong, the presentation encourages active involvement from the spectators. During the performance, I present puzzles on a display for the audience to unravel. These individual puzzles culminate in a final mystery that can be solved collectively. Kwong narrates how he transformed his passion for magic tricks and brain-teasers into a profession by delving into the historical roots of magic and magicians during his studies at Harvard University, focusing primarily on the period encompassing the s.

During the s, the individual acknowledged a lack of potential for pursuing a professional career in magic. Consequently, they relocated to Los Angeles and secured employment at DreamWorks Animation’s development department. Reflecting on this experience, they described it as a rigorous training ground for honing storytelling skills, from which they gained valuable insights on crafting engaging narratives. Additionally, the individual indulged in performing magic shows in Los Angeles purely for amusement. Over time, they recognized that integrating their various interests was essential in pioneering an innovative form of magic.

What we can learn

Kwong’s performance not only entertains and amazes audiences with his mastery of mind games and illusions, but also invites them to engage in the thrill of solving puzzles and unraveling mysteries together. By sharing his journey from a passion for magic to a successful career in the art of illusion, Kwong demonstrates the power of following one’s interests and pursuing one’s dreams. As spectators leave the performance, they are not only left with a sense of wonder and amazement, but also inspired to delve into their own passions and unlock the mysteries that lie ahead. Kwong’s show is truly a testament to the magic that can happen when we embrace our interests and immerse ourselves in the world of enigmas and illusions.


Hakan Author

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