A dedicated man of magic

16 January 2018

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Magic, piano playing, betrayal… what more could you ask for in a night out?

Matt Penny’s new show, Find the Lady combines all three.  Seesaw caught up with the WA-based magician and theatre maker to find out more.

Matt Penny

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
Matt Penny: I’ve been performing magic and putting on shows since I was a kid.  I think it was more just a need to be loved rather than any hankering to be artistic.

S: Tell us about your training…
MP: Back when I was young (last century!) the world of magicians was very different to how it is now.  These days you can learn and buy magic online but in the olden days the only way to learn was to meet other magicians and then you’d ‘swap’ tricks.  It was a much more tactile way to learn.  I was formally trained to play the piano and beaten with a stick if I didn’t do my practise. I became an actor for the glory, fame and money (sigh).

S: And your artistic practice?
MP: I have been an actor, writer, magician, mentalist, pianist, director, animator, MC and part time Karma Sutra model.   I tend to have a few projects on the go and just kind of wait for one to bubble to the surface and then go with that one.  It’s not an ideal way to work but it makes for an interesting life.

S: Career highlight so far?
MP: One year I did a show called Micro Magic.  The way it worked was that I was set up under the big screen in the Perth Cultural Centre doing close up magic on a tiny stage.  We had a camera set up on just my hands and this was streamed onto the twelve metre screen.  It was Australia Day and we managed to catch the crowd as they came back from the fireworks so about two thousand people stopped to watch this tiny magic show on the big screen.

S: Career lowlight?
MP: Performing my one man show Frank the Mind Reading Hotdog to three people in Auckland, New Zealand (one reviewer, his girlfriend and someone who worked on the bar upstairs).  Got a great review though.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
MP: I love the thrill of being onstage and, if I can, making an audience laugh.

S: What made you decide to come back to Fringe World?
MP: I’ve performed shows at every Fringe World since it started.  I don’t think I could imagine a January without preparing for a show.

S: Tell us about your 2018 Fringe show!
MP: I’ve spent a number of years trying to think of a way to combine my love of magic with my love of theatre.  Find the Lady is a piece of theatre about a con man who steals the gift of mind reading from an old friend.  It’s a rags to riches tale but fame can be fleeting when you trust the wrong people.  As soon as you get to the top people start plotting your downfall.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
MP: I’m looking forward to seeing a whole bunch of international magicians who are invading our shores this Fringe season.

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
MP: Well, these things have been banned for years, but I used to love the old witch’s hat.  Look it up.

“Find the Lady” plays The Blue Room Theatre 27-28 January.

Pictured top: Matt Penny. Image by Susie Blatchford & Alex Manfrin.

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