Exclusive: Joshua Jay answers six questions about Six Impossible Things

April 18, 2018

Joshua Jay is trying something different this summer. He’s putting on a brand new, limited-run show in his home town of New York City called Six Impossible Things. It’s an immersive take on close-up magic that’s part illusion, part escape room, part interactive theater show, and all extremely cool. Both the magician and the audience members will move together from one part of the venue to the next, and each of the rooms will feature one of Josh’s original magic creations.

Performances of run from June 1 through July 28 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at The Mist. Each night will have shows at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm. Only twenty people can attend each show, and because of the unique experience, guests are only admitted to see it once. Tickets cost between $106 and $136. The official website has more information.

To get a sneak peak into what guests can expect, and into the thought process of the brains behind the ambitious project, we asked Josh six questions about Six Impossible Things. He not only gave us some incredible insight into the creative process, but also shared some as-yet unpublished photos of the show. Read on to find out how he’s bringing the impossible to life.

1. What was your inspiration for this new project?

This show is a reaction to my previous work. My career has been about doing magic that is easily accessible. At some point, I began to explore this vision for a magic show based more on experiencing magic than watching it. I saw potential in putting magic in different environments, and making each audience member take risks with me, outside their comfort zone. I heard Bruce Springsteen in an interview say an amazing thing. He said, “As a creative person, you build your box, and then you escape from it.” I have found that to be very true. I built a box as a smiling, happy magician that entertains audiences 8-80. Now it’s my turn to escape from that mold.

2. How long has Six Impossible Things been in development?

Nine years. Three years. Six months. I say nine years because I moved to New York right after my first show, Unreal. And I’ve thought about doing a show in New York every day since then, but just never got around to it. I let a lot of things–exciting things in many cases–get in the way. I say three years because I have been outlining a section of my notebooks called “Six Impossible Things” for three years. And for the last six months, this has been my sole focus; just bringing these many disparate ideas together.

3. How did this particular space impact your ability to create the magic for the show?

My team or I visited over thirty venues. We were very close to pulling the trigger on a pretty big room to do a kind of huge stage show. But when I toured The Mist, I turned to our producer and said, “This is it. I hope we can afford it.” The space is TINY, so immediately I knew the show would be intimate and unprofitable. But I also knew it was an opportunity to do something really, really special. The space is owned by two really talented, young architects: Jae Lee and Yvonne Chang. And they’ve become active in the creative end of the show. We’ve reimagined one of the rooms entirely, and altered the other rooms to fit the subjects of each experience.

4. What are the challenges of performing for such an intimate audience?

The one I struggle with the most is the lack of applause. I’ve spent my whole career gauging a trick’s worth by the applause and reactions. But when there are twenty people–standing or with things in their hands–the end of these experiences often end in silence. Stunned silence, I hope, but silence. My director, Luke Jermay, keeps encouraging me to let go of this need for audience vindication, and to accept that there are more powerful ways to appreciate the impossible than applause. So I’m trying my best.

5. Do you foresee this type of interactive theater performance as a trend that will stick for the magic world?

It’s fascinating to develop magic without the usual constraints. Imagine putting a show together and saying to yourself–you know what the best angle for this would be? If everyone stood against the wall. So, I can line up everyone against the wall. Or I said to myself at one point, “This trick really only has impact one on one.” And guess what? I was able to design a segment where each participant enters an environment alone, with me, to experience a very special moment of magic. Alone.

6. How would you summarize the experience of Six Impossible Things in just three words?

Sensory Magic Show.