Born to be Weird

Australian magician brings nostalgia to the stage in a comedy-filled show

Rachel D’Sa, Columns Editor

This year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival welcomes Perth magician, Robbie Townsend (better known as Robbie T), to its 2018 lineup. From Sept. 6 to 16, Townsend is bringing a unique blend of humour and awe to the stage with his latest show, Weirdo.  

With a debut in Feb. 2018 at the third largest Fringe in the world, Fringe World in Perth, Weirdo established itself as a must-see, selling out to crowds of people. The show underwent a bit of tweaking and revision before its second viewing at the Melbourne Magic Festival later in July. These changes, Townsend noted, were made to make the show more self-contained and practical in terms of set-up after switching out a couple of acts within the show to – as Townsend believes – create more texture and variety.  

Weirdo, which spent approximately six months in development, displays the personal trials and tribulations that Townsend encountered throughout his adolescence. From photographs and authentic diary entries to juicy childhood stories, Weirdo brings the audience to face and embrace all of life’s quirks. “I have these three diaries from Grade 5 and it’s quite fascinating looking back at the sort of stuff one wrote as a child and reminiscing,” said the magician, further stating that even the story of his first ever crush made for an integral part of the show, that leads up to a trick that he’s very proud of.  

This show is very close to the magician’s heart, revealing a significance aside from the humorous storytelling and engaging interactiveness. He added that by choosing to frame the show around something so personal and quirky, it has allowed for a framework within which he can be a little strange and embrace his true personality. “For me I think [magic] was partly a way of bridging the social anxiety that perhaps I felt in social engagements,” he said. “To be honest, I think that’s why a lot of magicians get into magic. It’s because they’re not necessarily naturally the life and soul of the party and they do find social engagements challenging. By learning some magic, it’s a way by which you can sort of bridge that. It provides an instant connection with people.” 

Having participated in the entertainment industry for over a decade, magic is both Townsend’s day job and night hustle. After leaving his government day job while doing gigs on the side in late 2011, he made the jump to see if he could make a living performing solo. Despite his enjoyment of acting as hired entertainment at events, he finds a different sense of fulfillment performing at festivals. “The nice thing about Fringe Festival and putting together a show of this kind [is that] it allows for a lot more sort of creative expression,” he said, explaining the heightened excitement he finds the audience has when they come to his festival shows. This September, he is excited to be back in Vancouver visiting family, while having the opportunity to perform for an international audience at a professional level.  

“I think any magic done well and done with personality and consideration – I think it can make an impact on an audience – whether that’s emotional or whether it’s simply 50 minutes, during which time the audience can sort of escape from their own heads and their own concerns and worries,” said Townsend. Through this connective and comedic performance, Weirdo embraces the often suppressed inelegance of life’s awkward moments – as if it were magic.  

 

Weirdo will show at Performance Works throughout the entirety of Vancouver Fringe Festival, running from Sept. 6-16. For more information, visit: https://tickets.vancouverfringe.com/shows/weirdo/info 

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