Last Updated on 21 April 2022 by Showcall Editorial Team
We chatted with Derren Brown who is touring his first new UK show in six years to find out how he is feeling…
I’m sure anyone looking at touring this year is unusually excited. It’s a particular privilege to be doing it given what an impossibly disheartening time it’s been for people who worked in theatre. The show was originally due to open the first day of lockdown, so it’s been a long pause. The thought of finally getting it on the road, let alone seeing a crowd of people in an auditorium… all of that seems bizarre and exciting and extraordinary. So yes, it’s going to be a huge treat.
Your new show, Showman, was conceived before the pandemic struck. Has the direction of the show changed as a result
Strangely, the show pre-Covid was, at its heart, about how the tough things in life that we feel isolate us, tend in fact to bring us together, and be the very things that we share. And then lockdown happened, which was a strangely literal playing out of that theme. So although the benefit of extra time has allowed us to re-work the show a little and change some aspects of it, its heart has remained the same.
Your live shows are known for bold theatrics and the strong, personal connection you make with your audiences. Will Showman follow suit?
Well, I hope so! We – my little team and I – try to provide a kind of experience you wouldn’t get anywhere else. Not at a play, not at a magic show, not anywhere. That’s always been a driving force. And I try to make the shows about the audience rather than about me. My manager once mentioned that the shows were unusual in that they weren’t all about the magician on stage. I liked that and we now keep that consciously in mind when we put the show together. That’s part of growing up, too: both as a person and as a performer.
What have you missed the most about being on tour?
The headspace. My old rhythms of finding coffee shops, writing all afternoon and then heading out to do the shows in the evening. And spending time with my small crew: although they change a little from year to year, they’re always fine people I choose because I know we’ll all get on and have a good time. And there is something liberating in having just the one clear thing – the show – to be concerned with. The first few weeks it might be finding its feet, but after that it’s just tweaks and improvements and the pleasure of doing it and finding out how to enjoy each moment. And I get to be this well-rehearsed, charismatic version of myself night after night, which will also be liberating after a year and a half of lockdown and the deflated sense of self that has unavoidably brought.
Finally, this will be your 16th year on tour. Does it get any easier?
Not really. Each show has to be built from scratch, and although each show teaches us something about structure that can be carried into future shows, you also don’t want things to feel too familiar for an audience. But at the same time, the experience and shorthand under our belt – it’s pretty much always been the same little team – is invaluable.
The challenge of finding ideas we haven’t done before both gets harder, of course, but therefore more interesting. There’s no rhyme or reason to what makes a show easy or difficult to put together. They’re always a mountain to climb, but the views are terrific.