Impossible- Family Magic Show – presented by the College of Magic in Cape Town

When: June 3-4, 2023
Performance times: Saturday June 3 at 3.30pm and 7pm, Sunday June 4 at 12pm and 3.30pm
Where: Artscape
Tickets: R125–R150 via Webtickets. Family Special- four tickets available for R500
Booking link:
Cast: Students and graduates of the College of Magic  

The internationally acclaimed College of Magic in Cape Town is presenting its annual Family Magic Show at Artscape from June 3-4 – four performances. The show is titled, Impossible and is an epic scale theatrical magic show with grand scale illusion, comedy, juggling and dare-devil stunts and showcases “a modern recreation of Houdini’s suspended, death-defying, upside-down straitjacket escape” – a first for the Artscape stage. This homage to Houdini is linked to South African magic history, explains the College of Magic’s Creative Director, Chad Findlay. Houdini did not tour South Africa or Africa but there was a Houdini imposter, who toured SA in 1912 and that inspired the re-creation of a Houdini escape in Impossible. Findlay is directing Impossible and the show features a cast of over 50 – comprising students and graduates of the College of Magic. This show follows on the success of the College’s 2022 family magic show, The Magic Key, which was not only impressive in terms of magic craft but was also a wow in its thrust as theatre of magic. Findlay provides insights:

TheCapeRobyn: What led to the inclusion of The Houdini escape in Impossible?

Chad Findlay: At the College of Magic [COM] we do our best to uncover and preserve South African magic history. We discovered an interesting titbit about a Houdini imposter touring the country in 1912. Houdini became aware of this. He never toured anywhere in Africa- and acting as only he would- he took out full page ads in Variety and other papers in New York- proclaiming the imposter was not him. It is a fascinating story which ended up with a signed Houdini photo and book coming into our possession at the COM. The photo and book were donated to us. This story inspired us to recreate this famous stunt of his with our student, Liyema Peters (16), escaping from a regulation straitjacket while suspended upside down. It’s a nail biting number and something of a scale we’ve never attempted before. She’s a bit of a daredevil. She was really excited by the possibility when I suggested it a few months back. Since then, she’s been practicing hard to make it a reality.

TheCapeRobyn: Have the hardware/props for the Houdini illusion been made by the students/The College? Is it an illusion?

Chad Findlay: It’s not an illusion. It is very real. We make some props ourselves, much of the specialist equipment comes from overseas built by a handful of ‘illusion builders’ who create props for famous magicians like David Copperfield and Criss Angel. We’re very proud that we’re working along with some of the best while upskilling our local students and partners to international standards.

TheCapeRobyn: Will professional magicians be joining the cast?

Chad Findlay: We have some recent graduates joining the cast but we decided to focus on our extraordinary students for the show, this year. Many in our audiences, remark that the students are all professional level.

TheCapeRobyn: The family magic show is not merely a showcase of what students can do in terms of magic but a theatrical experience – with magic as the medium. Insights into the context and referencing the Houdini escape – one thinks – escape from what?

Chad Findlay: Our aim is always to elevate the magic ‘tricks’ and illusions with story and relatable context. We are dead set in finding our own unique approach to magic, it has always been so Eurocentric. What does magic mean in a SA context? We are at the beginning of that journey. Impossible sets out on a more abstract journey with messages of perseverance, finding oneself and making the impossible, possible. We guarantee that the experience will be joyous and inspiring.

TheCapeRobyn: What can audiences expect before the show, in the foyer with magical interventions and pop-up magic? A magic immersion experience?

Chad Findlay: Magic everywhere! A lot of people don’t really understand what we do, so we’re bringing our magic to the Artscape foyer with interactive juggling, puppetry and magic experiences that give a rate of what we offer to youngsters on a weekly basis. We also have fantastic roaming performers that you’ll encounter throughout the space.

TheCapeRobyn: The Magic Key [2022]- the COM’s Family Magic Show- raised the bar – with a highly considered show that was theatrically sophisticated and here we are with Impossible which looks like an epic show in terms of scale. In addition to the Houdini Escape, what else can we expect in terms of the wow factor and theatrical stage magic?

Chad Findlay: Impossible aims to refine and re-imagine new and old effects with kids, appearing, floating and even levitating. Every act is ‘wow’ we get better and better with every show. We also push ourselves to try new things. You will find a lot of ‘new’ in Impossible.

TheCapeRobyn: The College of Magic was recently featured in a 60 Minutes’ segment on prime-time TV in the United States. Tell us about that?

Chad Findlay: The College of Magic has had incredible exposure over the last year. It has been phenomenal to see international audiences amazed by what, we as Capetonians, take for granted. Millions of Americans tuned into the 60 Minutes feature in December [2022] and the response was overwhelming. We are in the strongest position we have been in for a long time and that translates to more creativity, a bigger community impact and so much more.

TheCapeRobyn: Any plans to tour Impossible to festivals and magic events around the world?

Chad Findlay: We will be touring to township venues later in the show taking Impossible into many of the communities our students represent. I’m very excited about that. No touring outside of Cape Town at this stage. It’s a BIG show!

TheCapeRobyn: The new magic book, Everybody’s Magic by Richard Wiseman is being used for fundraising for the College of Magic. He is a Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. How did this collaboration come about with the College?

Chad Findlay: Professor Richard Wiseman has written best-selling books including Quirkology so we were thrilled when he reached out during the pandemic to collaborate on a project that became Everybody’s Magic. He reached out to us, after he saw the COM’s online fundraising show in 2020. Another of our supporters is Vanishing Inc – the largest magic shop in the world. They offered to print and design the book and the cards. It has been a long process, since 2020, but we couldn’t imagine a better outcome. It’s a beautiful little book and includes a stunning deck of cards for beginners and supporters. We will be selling a few at the show, with all funds going to our organisation. Richard Wiseman also contributed to the script of Impossible, making some wonderful suggestions.

Juggler: Vuyo Kwatshe, a student at The College of Magic in Cape Town, is performing in Impossible! – June 3-4, 2023 at Artscape. “Impossible sets out on a [more] abstract journey with messages of perseverance, finding oneself and making the impossible, possible,” reflects the College of Magic’s Creative Director, Chad Findlay, about the narrative arc of the show. Pic supplied.
Magic cube: Anja Steyn, a student The College of Magic in Cape Town, is performing in Impossible! – June 3-4, 2023 at Artscape. Supplied.
College of Magic, Cape Town    

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Also known internationally as South Africa’s ‘Hogwarts’, the College of Magic is a non-profit community youth development organisation that uses the art of magic to inspire, educate and offer hope to young people in Cape Town, South Africa. The College of Magic provides a haven for children to be themselves and learn to be stars, regardless of where they come from.  

Since its founding in 1980, thousands of young people have had the opportunity to improve their future potential through the college’s courses, mentoring and performances. Its courses help children to build confidence and develop valuable life and social skills that they can carry into adulthood.  

The college’s exceptional students have been showcased all over the world – from performance in the USA, Austria, China and Italy to a recent 60 Minutes feature on primetime TV in the United States, and in other media including The New York Times, Globe and Mail, CNN and BBC.

Info about The College of Magic – supplied.