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That's a pretty big gig to get right out of school.
You're telling me. It was awesome. It was a total dream. And it was even better once the work started—that exposed me to these different ideas of how to work on something, that technical aspect of being as specific as possible. And I obviously met a lot of great people along the way who I'm still developing relationships with and working with. That whole community that came out of the Wooster Group is an amazing thing—you've got Radiohole, Elevator Repair Service
, Jim Findlay
and the Collapsible Giraffe
In terms of the performance practice you've developed in working not only as a magician, but also with a company as rigorous as the Wooster Group—how has that allowed you to build a show like this Lenny Bruce piece, where every second is mapped out?
It gives me the ability to allow that magic of theater to exist. I know when I go see something, I want to feel like I'm in good hands. With magic, for example, I do a lot of slight of hand card magic, which is kind of the real deal. There's a small handful of guys that are really doing technically difficult things with slight of hand and I just love that. I'll spend years working on a technique before I ever present it to somebody because it needs to get up to that level of total comfort. That idea of getting something so ingrained that when introduced into a new environment it can transform into something else.
With the Lenny Bruce performance, knowing that I know the material so well, it's almost like I can hear it in my head. That music analogy you gave was great, it's kind of like when you have a song you like and you can just sing it—it's very much like that, except it's the entire Carnegie Hall concert. I just hear it and I can sing it. And for me that's fun.
It's interesting that it's the performance that allows you to accomplish the technical task. Your interaction with the audience, along with your skill, of course, allows you to perform the trick without them understanding what's happening—to want to believe in the magic of the experience.
You know, I can be in my rehearsal room working on Lenny Bruce, getting technically more proficient at it, but it's nothing until it's in front of an audience. Even more so with magic. Magic only happens in the minds of the viewers. And I can kind of feel that happens to some extent with theater and performance.
Would you ever let the magic go at any point, if performing covered the bills, or do you think it feeds you across disciplines?
I couldn't possibly conceive of not picking up a deck of cards every day.
Do you literally do it every single day?
Absolutely. There's a deck of cards within arm's reach all the time. I'm beyond going out of that phase. A well-constructed card trick is a beautiful thing. And I'm also really trying to incorporate magic into everything I do. It's not so present, obviously, in the Lenny Bruce piece.