The scientist turned magician

25 January 2018

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Starting with love and ending in blood, Pierre Ulric’s ‘Confessions of a Magician’ isn’t your standard conjuring show. In his Fringe Session Q&A, he reveals more about the magical practices behind both his adult cabaret and children’s shows.

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
Pierre Ulric: It’s been a nagging feeling for a very long time. I’ve always been into ‘art’ since I was a child, but having had a lot of different interests and pursuits, it has not always been the main focus. Following scientific studies and 15 years of industry work, only recently have I decided to go full time as a performer and creator. So one could say I took my time a little.

Pierre Ulric
Pierre Ulric. Photo: Lighthouse Photography

S: Did you do formal training, learn on-the-job, or a bit of both?
PU: I was self-taught through books, videos and meeting other magicians. Traditionally, magic has always had very arcane way of being taught and there are not many formalised systems, other than mentoring (which I never really had the opportunity to receive). Things are changing rapidly with social media though.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
PU: The art of making the impossible, possible… event if just for a moment. I like to call it ‘theatrical surrealism’, because really you are simply acting out things that cannot normally be real and trying to make it feel authentic.

S: Career highlight?
PU: My last few years of producing shows at Perth and Adelaide fringe festivals and performing to full houses.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
PU: The unbridled creative licence!

S: What has been your funniest career moment so far?
PU: Cutting myself on stage with some broken cutlery, bleeding profusely and having to finish the show with a handkerchief wrapped around my hand… no wait… that wasn’t funny.

S: Tell us about your 2018 Fringe World show!
PU: Well I am producing two shows at Fringe this year: A children’s sci-fi magic and science extravaganza entitled ‘A Fabulous Teleportation Experiment’ and an adult cabaret piece entitled ‘Confessions of A Magician’. That’s the one I want to tell you about some more.

I wanted to produce a show that was not your standard linear exhibition of magic ‘tricks’. Through a number of theatrical vignettes, I open the door on what it means to be a professional magician in this era, what there is to love about it, to hate about it and even uncover some of the real secrets of the art… by performing it.

Without going more into the plot, it is a show that starts with love, and ends in blood. It features deadpan comedy, visual and psychological pieces and (hopefully) generally very strong – and challenging – performance pieces.

S: This isn’t your first time at Fringe – what drew you back?
PU: After a few years of trials and leaning, I’m starting to get closer to what I want to achieve with these shows. Furthermore, with better ticket sales and larger rooms, it actually becomes a sustainable business model too. Oh – And also it’s just the best motivation to get working!

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
PU: Definitely a good slide! I love the sense of abandon…

Confessions of a Magician plays Downstairs at the Maj, February 13-17.

A Fabulous Teleportation Experiment plays The Palace Society at Elizabeth’s Palace, January 27 – February 17 and The Red Room at Creatures Next Door, February 24-25.

Pictured top is Pierre Ulric. Photo: Jack Hawkins Photography.

Pierre Ulric
Photo: Josh Boland Photography

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