Over the past few years the performance of magic has experienced a renaissance, leading some to speak of a “New Golden Age”. Multi-million-dollar productions in major resorts, and casinos and a new era of variety shows for people “with talent”, have drawn audiences on a scale unprecedented in the history of this ancient form of theatre.
It was a different kind of magic, however, that first drew me to the craft. This kind of magic was typical of the first Golden Age of Magic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries where, with the deft use of language and interpersonal cues, the magicians invited their audiences to embark on a voyage of imagination and wonder.
In developing The Conjuror, Patrick Watson and I had several related objectives. One was to re-create the stage magic of this earlier Golden Age, to transport you to a time and place (we chose the year 1909 and the legendary St. George’s Hall in London) where audiences came to be enchanted by paradox. These were sophisticated adult audiences who, within that kind of theatrical space, could allow the child within to believe that the only possible explanation of the paradoxes was – magic.
So first, we decided to create a historically authentic performance featuring magical effects of a century ago, using the actual techniques of those old masters of enchantment. Second we went out to make a piece of theatre woven together with texture and irony, magic and humour, language and music, so that we might reflect today’s inner child in the magical mirror of yesterday.
Finally, we recalled that the performers of the older magic were nourished by the affection of their audiences. This affection, they argued, could be won only be risking a close, almost intimate relationship with the audience. Our Conjuror aims to re-create this kind of relationship. It is a participatory kind of magic, and in this spirit we invite everyone to enter in.