The Silent Magician’s Assistant

Today’s exhibit for your amusement is this photograph from my 90’s student days. It’s my only remaining artefact from final year devised performance piece entitled, ‘Splash your face with water and it will all become clear’. My group and I were feeling exasperated, ground-down by all the artsy bullshit of our Creative Arts course. So we wanted to poke some fun at deconstructed theatre, breaking the rules of the space, perceived performance, and the fourth wall. However we discovered it’s not easy to satirize something already so close to absurd…

Magician's assistant- devised performance

Mortified rigor-mortis grin, Live from the Axis Theatre!

My role was that of Assistant to the inept Magician whose tricks are apparent, our nod to the fantasy of theatre being illusory ‘smoke and mirrors’.  I was generously styled by the campus’ resident lesbian drag artist. And since I was poor at projecting my voice it was decided I shouldn’t speak. So I performed mute, with hand waving and charade gestures. Not the easiest for communicating when you want specific audience participation. We also substituted a flight box for a magician’s box, which I think I had to climb into at one point.

My favourite part was the end where, climbing on top the flight box I kicked off my shoes and joined by the rest of the group, danced with abandon to 60’s classic ‘We’ve got to get out of this place’. This song was our non-too subtle punchline. I still smirk all these years later at the heartfelt sentiment of our kiss-off.

In post-performance viva, a disappointed assessing tutor quizzed me on why my stiletto removal didn’t build to a striptease finale. You know, to further compound the vulnerability of the actor? It was a serious suggestion… Alas this poor performer, already raw with embarrassment, felt exposed enough.


Ah to be a Creative Arts student! How many degree courses do you know of where getting naked could have earned you a better mark? This is part of a series of posts exploring my somewhat unusual degree course while I rifle through my 90’s Arts Student archives. You can find more here.


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