The Work-Stay: Las Vegas

Tom Cassani Challenges Our Willingness to Be Deceived

Tom Cassani tests the limits of body-based illusion while mapping new territories in contemporary performance practices. In February, he visited Las Vegas with his mentor Florentina Holzinger to explore the long-running shows in this center of entertainment.

With his project Expanded Magic, Cassani has developed a captivating one-man-show centered on a series of deconstructed sleight of hand routines as well as other physical magic tricks and feats of wonder. He enacts these routines on stage while delivering a monologue that cannily manipulates the boundaries between performer and audience, highlighting the performing body as an unreliable measure of truth.

A mind-bending physical and conceptual piece, Expanded Magic plays with the viewer’s own investment in the success of a magic trick, challenging their anticipation and willingness to be deceived, wowed, and entertained.

In Las Vegas, Cassani and Holzinger had conversations with different performers about the repeated nature of the city's long-running shows, some of which have been going for 20 years, and how this might contradict the ephemeral nature of magic. "I'm particularly interested in what I call time-based magic," says Cassani, which he defines as a performer exploring actions that aren't inherently magic when seen in isolation, but become impossible, or magic when they're seen repeated in sequence.

Expanded Magic will premiere at the Forecast Festival, March 17–18 at Radialsystem. 

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