MAGIC ON STAGE, Cape Town, World of Magic!, Artscape Theatre Centre, October 6, 2019.

The College of Magic, Cape Town is staging World of Magic! at Artscape on October 6 at 2pm and 4.30pm (not 6pm – as previously published on other platforms). Yes, that’s two shows only.

This magical extravaganza includes illusionists, clowns, jugglers and comedy magic. The director is Santika Naidoo- a graduate of the college. She attended classes (for six years), from the age of 10 (the general intake age at the institution). Her studies included mime, clowning and drama and theatre production.

In directing this production, Naidoo is cognisant of empowering female illusionists in a live theatre context- as artists in their own right. There is a perception that magic is a boy’s club. The image of the male magician with his female sexy assistant who he chops in half and who is a diversion has dominated contemporary stage magic. Naidoo and her colleagues would like that to change and see females illusionists taking centre stage and not just being sidekicks, propping up their male colleagues.

TheCapeRobyn: Over the years, I have been told by College of Magic teachers that at student level, there are many females but after school, they tend to go into other professions – and not go on to do stage magic. Comment?

Santika Naidoo: Yes, it is most definitely true that any female who partakes in the industry is often seen as the ‘magician’s assistant’ or some mysterious temptress, and that is an image that we’re actively working to dismantle. We aim to try even out the ratio of boys to girls in our intake classes as much as we can, but we find that a lot of the girls tend to drop out as they get older and go to high school because it becomes quite overwhelming, especially if you’re the only girl in your class. It does however, work out that when there are other girls around – they tend to stick together all the way through the six years. In fact, last year, our graduating class actually had more girls than boys. With regards to their careers in magic post-College, most of the younger female graduates still do some performances, but as they get older – it generally becomes less feasible to pursue a career as a magician, and very often – the women who have trained as magicians go into an industry where they use the skill-sets they learned through magic.

TheCapeRobyn: You are studying towards a BA in film, TV and psychology at University of Cape Town. Can you talk about whether magic is part of the trajectory of your degree? In terms of film, are you exploring illusion – as an image, idea? In terms of psychology, are you looking at the notion of misdirection and sleight of hand and the psychology how illusion works?

Santika Naidoo: Actually, my start in film editing began at the College in my Theatre Production class, and is currently the skill I’m looking to make a career out of. But the art of magic, both in its practical and conceptual form, has informed a lot of the way in which I approach imagery and storytelling – because it has taught me how to create a guided and immersive experience for audiences. A lot of magic actually has to do with psychology and perception, but I have yet to fully explore the role of psychology in magic.

TheCapeRobyn: Insights into the show, World of Magic! and directing approach?

Santika Naidoo: As this is my first time directing something of this nature, the whole experience has been a learning curve for me. It’s fascinating directing a show with a cast that is comprised of pre-teens and teenagers who are already so skilled in their fields of interest within magic. It has been really great watching them grow as I grow during this period – and they’re all so excited to put on a production like this. Especially due to the fact that we’re changing up a couple of things this year, so there are a whole bunch of new illusions and experiences that we’re hoping our cast, as well as our audience, has the opportunity to enjoy.

TheCapeRobyn: Were you involved in casting the show and were you brought on board to specifically nurture women magicians – in a way that has not been done in the past at college shows?

Santika Naidoo: I think that it is far easier for me to see what can be done in order to empower the young girls at the College – because I was where they were. I was involved with casting the show, but my involvement with the show was not directly linked to nurturing these young female magicians – it just so happened that it was something I felt needed to be done in this show. We’re hoping that the moves we make in this show have an impact on how these girls see themselves in the industry, but I can’t say too much, because there is something exciting involving the female magicians in the show – so you’re just going to have to wait to see what it is.

TheCapeRobyn: As director, are you assembling material or are you mentoring students, in putting their sets together?

Santika Naidoo: I have the pleasure of working with other magicians, both members of the voluntary staff as well as other graduates of the College of Magic, in pulling together this whole show. There have been many components of some of our students individual acts which have been incorporated into scenes in the show – but a lot of the magic that the cast perform are either new to them, or based off skills that we know they possess.

TheCapeRobyn: Anything else to add about World of Magic?

Santika Naidoo: The show caters to all ages, from the young to the young at heart! We hope that audiences will see this show as an opportunity to bask in, or reignite, their child-like wonder as they explore various ‘worlds of magic’. If you are attending the show, be sure to arrive early in order to fully experience our Sideshow Spectacular, in the Artscape Theatre foyer, which will include pieces of magic, mime and a free Wand-Making Workshop. We can’t wait to see you all there.

* Tickets for World of Magic! are R165 with discounts for family bookings. Book at Computicket.

Santika Naidoo is directing World of Magic
Santika Naidoo is directing World of Magic! Pic: Andrew M. Klazinga.