Over the last year or two, I have basically taken my eye off of film and television.
Theatre is just easier and the money turns over much more quickly. Two weeks after the show, you get money in your bank.
I’ve not acted in three years because there was simply too much I didn’t control. I got one audition in 3 years. And I’ll tell you, the economics of the acting profession really hit you in the face when you walk into a casting director’s office in Manchester and are confronted by over a hundred people who all look kind of like you.
My brain started reeling off lines from Fight Club, “You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”
So I decided to concentrate on magic, a career in which I have personal control, and in which I could push forward on my own terms. And I have. And it’s been fun! It has achieved almost everything I wanted it to.
But I’ve got urges, man.
Magic’s great. I love it. And a magician I will always be. And just for the record, I’m not planning to give up. I will be touring this year and I have at least three or four stage tours left in me and a bunch of ideas for TV. And I’ll continue doing the Edinburgh Festival for as long as it continues to be profitable to do so.
But for me, magic was always a part of a bigger picture, a bigger master plan. One income stream out of several.
And I feel that now the time is right to give acting another “try”. Continue reading “Why Are There So Few Parts For British Asian Actors?: An Analysis & A Screenplay Competition” »
Happy New Year to you all!
After celebrating New Year in Manchester last night, I wake up this morning in bright and sunny West Yorkshire with a clear blue sky I haven’t seen in these parts for months!
The usual New Year vibe is in the air. It’s the beginning of something. And social media is filled with goal lists. Which is what I want to talk about today.
Goal setting is very important to anybody who walks to make progress in 2019 and get things done, so well done to anybody who’s had a go and written a goals list for 2019. But there are a number of common mistakes people make that almost guarantee failure in certain areas. And that’s what I want to address in this article.Continue reading “Goal Setting For High Achievers: 6 Golden Rules For Dream Realisation” »
Black Mirror has become one of Netflix’s most watched shows. The Twilight Zone for the 21st century, it has made us ask questions about the world we live in and what the world is evolving into. But did the highly anticipated return of one of Netflix’s flagship shows meet the hype?Continue reading “Thoughts on ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’” »
Japan chose the word ‘disaster’ to describe 2018. And I’d have to agree it hasn’t been the best of years but I really wouldn’t go that far. It was a stubborn year. It was a relatively stagnant and frustrating year. But it wasn’t a disaster.
While the whole Brexit fiasco plods arduously on and I continue to try and build a life and career in one of the most politically divided countries in the world; and while Donald Trump continues to wreak havoc on the other side of the Atlantic, I did do one or two things myself…
Here are 5 achievements I’m either proud of or grateful for (or both) during 2018: Continue reading “The Triumphs of 2018 – A Year In Review” »
Towards the end of every year, I try to practise an exercise in gratitude by writing an annual highlights post for the 12 months I’ve just lived through. It works like this: I try to list out the top 10 best things that happened in that year. Some years, like 2017, I’m spoilt for choice and needing to cut entries because the rules of the exercise dictate that I’m only allowed ten.
But this year has not been one of those years. This year, I have to say, has on many levels, been a struggle. With the exception of my Edinburgh Festival run, which was a total blast and a runaway success, I find myself with very little to record.
A few things went wrong early on and since then, progress has been slow. A couple of tour dates got cancelled in April & May, and then I gambled on a deal I probably shouldn’t have and deliberately incurred hardship in favour of longer term success. And recovering from that has been tough. If I had to describe 2018 in one word, as Maaya often asks me to do, that word would be ‘a drag’.
Being as I am in my early thirties, there’s a sort of expectation from society now that I am more or less where I want to be in life. During our teens and early twenties, everybody is talking about what they want to do and who they want to be. Our whole lives ahead of us, the world is painted as a playground overflowing with opportunity. We are not yet jaded by rejection and the frequent failings we will inevitably encounter once we get into the ‘big wide world’ and we live under the delusion that the world is a dream-granting factory. Continue reading “Why Am I Not Successful?: Mark Zuckerberg, The Millennial Pride Vacuum & How To Be Happy” »
I’ve always loved computers.
As a child of the 90s I still remember Windows 95 and the lucky dip that came with buying any type of software whatsoever. You never knew if it was going to work on your system or not. There were no guarantees. And things regularly got corrupted and nobody knew why. And at the time people (well… me anyway) just put up with it.
What else could you do? The Internet didn’t exist yet. There were no forums or social media. When I bought a computer game, I’d stand there in the shop with the extremely unnecessarily oversized box in my hands, the beautiful artwork getting me so excited. Desire like that doesn’t exist in adult life. But the first thought on my mind was always, “I hope it works on my computer!” because you never knew until you tried. And when it didn’t, I’d feel really frustrated and angry and curse my computer for not being good enough.
And then there was Apple.
I was a late convert to Apple. The cost barrier was in direct conflict with my surname. But one birthday – I can’t remember how old I was – I treated myself to an iPhone 4. And that one purchase changed everything. Continue reading “Time Machine Moment: 90s Software Frustrations, macOS Mojave & The Final Straw With Final Draft” »
It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s dreary. If winter was a person it would be Melania Trump.
I don’t feel like doing much. Which is kind of unfortunate because November and December are two of the busiest months of the year for magicians. But nonetheless, I find myself lethargic and particularly unwilling to get out of bed, much less focussed on work and more willing than usual to submit completely to the glowing warming glowing warming glow of television and endlessly binge watch 30 Rock.
And then all of a sudden my thoughts spiral out of control into an uncharacteristically negative place. To make it worse, I cannot sleep and for the first time since I started making a serious effort with diet and exercise, I’ve been craving cake and biscuits.
What on Earth is wrong with me? I have reluctantly had to accept that I could be seasonally affected. Continue reading “How I Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder” »
In March 2017, I found myself at BBC Broadcasting House in London, being interviewed live on national radio, by the BBC’s Media Editor, Amol Rajan. It was my first time on national radio and if I’m honest, I was a little nervous about being interviewed by such a journalistic titan. I knew it was going to be more than just a superficial interview. Sitting opposite me in the studio, he asked me a deep question, “Why do you do what you do?”
I paused. In all honesty it threw me a bit. The truth was I hadn’t given much thought to why. I did it because I liked it. But that’s not what anybody wants to hear. They want something deeper. What Amol was really asking is, “What makes you tick?”
I suppose the whole process of making a TV special like ‘Real Magic’, and the companion live show ‘Real Magic LIVE’ that I still tour, has caused me to dig deep and reopen a few cans of worms which, for the sake of my own wellbeing, I’d long kept bolted shut. I mentioned it in the show for the fleeting fifteen seconds you actually get to talk about yourself in a show like that and those who have already seen my live show will know it features too.
The most major of these was my experiences as a bully victim when I was teenager. So this is the first time in about 16 years that I’m going to talk about it at length. Continue reading “What Bullying Did To Me: A First Hand Account From A Bully Victim & An Open Letter To Bully Victims Everywhere” »
I’ve been quietly busy in recent months. The Edinburgh Fringe opened a lot of doors for me and changed me both as a person and as a performer.
It was my first fringe and I had not really known what to expect. Like so many things I’ve done in recent years, I’ve just gone ahead and tried not to think about it too much. That seems to be the best way to stop my mind from talking me out of it.
Surviving the festival is a challenge all of its own. Living in very cramped and basic accommodation for two weeks didn’t really make anybody especially happy. And as the days pass, little frustrations like that get amplified until what was initially just a slight annoyance, starts to drive you crazy.
Then there’s the trial-by-fire nature of the first three or four nights of the show. I had written and developed it over the past few months but it had still only had limited testing in front of live audiences. So the first few nights were highly stressful and a very steep learning curve.
And nobody needed experiences like forgetting the vision mixer (a very important piece of kit) on the first day and having to blast through Edinburgh like a getaway driver to go ‘home’ and pick it up, come all the way back, dash into the theatre, get dressed and then go on as if everything was fine.
But after a few days, both me and my crew adjusted and learned to take each show in our stride. And before we knew it, we were in a routine and starting to relax a little more.
And then good things began to happen… Continue reading “What Happened In Edinburgh” »
It is dangerous ground for a magician to review other magic acts. Which is why I’ve never made a habit of it. To slate bad magic, as a reviewer may sometimes be required to do, can come across arrogant if you’re also a practitioner. At the same time, it is more or less a professional requirement to see as many other magic acts as possible. So it’s probably worth my stating from the outset that I’m only reviewing this one because it was one of the more unusual acts I’ve seen and I liked it. I think.
One of the greatest and most rewarding things about living in London is the city’s thriving theatre scene. There is nowhere else in this country or this United Kingdom where somebody can see so much live theatre on a consistent year-round basis. And it’s Maaya’s love – no, obsession – with theatre that takes the two of us on some rather unlikely adventures to parts of London we most likely wouldn’t visit for any other reason.
Last night was one such night and took us to the High Tide Festival in Walthamstow, where I was treated to one of the most bizarre magic shows I’ve ever seen. Titled ‘The Extinction Event’, I have to say that when Maaya first tried to sell this to me, my expectations where not high. In fact, they were low. It is an odd title. Difficult to know exactly what I’m putting myself in for. And as such, difficult to develop any strong feelings either way. But hey, Maaya was arranging it, so thank God it wasn’t another play about death or honour killings and didn’t run for three and a half hours.
As a nation, even the most disinterested of us has been exposed to a lot of magic over the last twenty years. Which makes it extremely challenging for magicians to keep coming up with new stuff. In my own act, I have so far relied heavily on my life story which is in some ways quite different from most working magicians. And so far, that’s what I’ve relied upon for my unique selling point.
Starring David Aula and Simon Evans, The Extinction Event goes somewhere different. Part play and part magic show, it opens with the premise of a magician trying to accept the death of his best friend, while asking some very challenging questions about the future of humanity in the face of technology. Continue reading “The Extinction Event: A Review” »
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