David Aula and Simon Evans talk about bringing magic and theatre to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
The Sorcerers or the Extinction of Death & Associates is a society with many secret members: Simon and David are happy to make themselves public for these two events. Simon has been performing magic for over 20 years but spends most of his time directing in the theatre. Currently, his production of Killer Joe is playing on the West End starring Orlando Bloom. Previous productions include The Best Man by Gore Vidal (The Playhouse) and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (The Donmar). David has performed in the one man show Maisie Says She Loves Me by Jimmy Osborne (PainesPlough Roundabout) and been directed by Simon in Madness in Valencia (Trafalgar Studios) and The Misanthrope (White Bear). As director David’s work includes The Rain God by Jack Monaghan, The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan (VAULT), and Personal Enemy by John Osborne (Theater59E59, NYC). Simon is well known for working very hard and attending more meetings than there are hours in the day. David is about to become a father for the first time and looks forward to changing nappies and staying up all night at this year’s festival!

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
The Vanishing Man tells the story of the greatest magic trick ever performed. On 30th June 1930, a relatively unknown figure from the magic world, Hugo Cedar, walked out onto London Bridge and, in full sight of an audience, appeared to vanish. Now, almost a century later, two friends try to work out what he did and how he did it: teaching the audience how “magic” works, enlisting them to help work the puzzle out, and confronting their own assumptions, beliefs and skepticism.

The Extinction Event. In 1918, a man walks on stage and shoots Chinese magician, Chung Ling Soo, in the heart. At the exact same moment, William Ellsworth Robinson, Chung Ling Soo’s manager, drops dead. The stars of The Vanishing Man come together again to explore, through magic and audience manipulation, the connectivity of the human race, the links we build between each other, how dangerous those connections can be when obedience becomes dominance, and what dangers this might pose for the future of our species.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
The Vanishing Man has been around in different iterations since late 2015. We played at The VAULT Festival in 2016 for a two-week sell-out run and then toured early 2017. The Extinction Event has been created for this year’s Edinburgh Fringe but we’ve been wrestling with the ideas semi-seriously for about a year and in a big way for the last couple of months.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Definitely go with a four-week-old baby.

We’ll be taking the nutribullet to try to get the 5 a day in and keep our strength up! Go on recommendations and take a punt on a few wild cards. Have a very open mind!

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
At school David once split his trousers open whilst playing ‘wallpaper’ during a drama class showing.

Whilst on tour with The Vanishing Man, there’s a bit at the end where Simon is explaining how a trick works and a 12-year-old girl gave an impassioned speech about how magic might be real. We both thought it was beautiful and moving but Simon kind of had to disagree with her for the moment to work in the play. It was horrible!

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
David loves Complicite and finds their endless inventiveness endlessly inspiring. He also loves the work of Tim Crouch – as he plays with perception and manipulation – and also because he got to 40 and thought – ‘stuff auditioning for other people’s work, I’ll make my own’ and it worked.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Usually scrambling around secreting fruit in unusual places. Simon sometimes goes for a long walk – whilst David waits in the theatre and wonders if he’s coming back!

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Looking forward to the Sleeping Trees for sketch comedy, Sparks for drama and to seeing the Pepper’s Ghost effect resurrected in Toujours et Pres et Moi.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
We genuinely think you won’t ever have seen anything like it. And our audiences tell us this too. They’re not just magic shows. They’re not just theatre. They’re a combination of the two.

The Vanishing Man
Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance 2), 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh, EH8 9TJ
Wednesday 1st – Monday 27th August 2018 (not 6th or 13th), 14:10

The Extinction Event
Pleasance Courtyard (Above), 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh, EH8 9TJ
Wednesday 1st – Monday 27th August 2018 (not 6th or 13th), 15:40

Twitter: @ThePleasance @whoareSEDA


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