The Magic Play is bringing its unique blend of personal storytelling, emotional drama, and of course magic to Portland, Oregon. The show tells the story of a young magician who has been left by his partner right before a show and the line between himself and his stage persona blurs as he reacts to the loss. After ending its run in Louisville, the show will open at The Armory on March 9 and run through April 1. Preview performances start on March 3. Get tickets and more information on The Armory’s website.
Brett Schneider is the star and magic creator for the show, and he’s already shared some fascinating insight on how he developed the tricks he performs. But the production also benefits from the expertise of master illusionist Jim Steinmeyer. If you don’t recognize Steinmeyer’s name, you probably should get acquainted: he’s consulted for many of the greats, makes magic happen at Walt Disney theme parks, and has worked minor miracles for stages from Broadway to Las Vegas.
In other words, next month is looking like a very good time to be in Portland.
Many magicians adopt a stage persona and play a character in their performances, but The Magic Play stretches that concept to its limit. The play begins as a straight magic act, but the personal life and emotions of the magician start to bleed into his tricks. The Magic Play is the result of some unusual collaboration between writer Andrew Hinderaker and Brett Schneider, who both stars in the performance and created the magic for it. Leo Weekly interviewed Schneider about his work on The Magic Play and how he developed his personal blend of magic and theater.
“The Magic Play is really about this character, and manipulation and control, and how you relate to people if you are very good at controlling people, or controlling a situation,” Schneider said. During the development of the show, Hinderaker would write effects or broad actions into the script for the magic sections. Schneider’s challenge was to translate those words into functional tricks that he would be able to perform on stage. The result is something that sounds quite original:
The difference between this play, and the patter you get with a magic trick, is that this is a meta script. It’s not just the words you say with a trick, this was the words the character is saying as he’s performing a magic show, and as he was having realizations onstage. So, it has this other layer of theatricality and narrative that magic doesn’t normally have.
The Magic Play runs at the Actors Theater in Louisville, Kentucky, through February 11.