I was browsing through my Instagram feed when I was on a hydrobed at the gym just after my morning workout. I came across the Orlando Fringe’s post on making fringe more accessible, and it is more accessible than traditional theatre. The whole idea behind Fringe Festivals was based on inclusivity for both the performers, producers & audience. When Fringe started back in the 1950’s, it was more about economic accessibility and less about demographic diversification.
The post got me thinking and I went searching on Google and came across a startling – but not surprising article from The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/jul/10/its-upsetting-the-autistic-music-fans-being-shut-out-of-gigs) on how music concerts are exclusive to neurotypicals only. The article states that four fifths of people with neurodivergent conditions are excluded from concerts due to sensory sensitivities. In concerts you have loud noises, strobe lights, foul smells and a crowd that won’t stay still- visual, audible and even fragmented sensations that can overwhelm a neurodivergent brain.
Magic shows sometimes have elements of a rock concert but a vast majority of magic shows are not produced at that scale – a overwhelming majority of magic shows are self-produced in restaurants, hotel rooms, small theatres and living rooms & parlours, leaving no room for fog machines, strobes and electric guitars – making it a sensory friendly form of entertainment. Magic shows can be produced and enjoyed in a wide range of environmental conditions – even without the ushering of a audible word – making it even more inclusive for those who are non-verbal or those who don’t speak the same language as the performer. Magic doesn’t even need to have the lights turned off – I would argue any time the lights do go off during a magic act is not a smart move on the performer.
I am unapologetically a magic apologist and the more I perform, study and practice – the more opportunities I see for magic to be more than just a series of tricks or a form of entertainment, but rather a vehicle for the socially disadvantaged & ostracized to not just feel included but to be included. Magic is the only art form, regardless of language, abilities or caste that connects people.