An Interview with Philipp Obelohr, creator of DAS SPIEL

Tell us a bit about the history of the show.

I studied physical theatre here in London at the International School of Corporeal Mime. So I like physical theatre but I also did my degree in theology. Both elements are part of this work, it is a magic show that makes sense – there’s a reason why things happen.

My personal history as a magician started when I was seven. I became a member of the Austrian Magic Circle when I was 14. There was me at 14, and then the next oldest was 25, and then guys in their fifties. I was there for four years and realised that I wasn’t getting what I was looking for. So I became part of a theatre company where I worked with directors from Italy, the Czech Republic, and Serbia, who introduced me to different forms of theatre.

You mentioned that a lot of the men in that first magic group were quite a bit older. What do you think the future holds for magic?

I can predict the future of magic quite precisely. There’ll be a new guy doing the same old tricks, for a new audience. Even though there’s a lot of variety within the magic scene, there’s still a lot of boring card tricks. I think the main reason for that is there are no role models - or not enough role models.

I’m excited about this run because there are a lot of things that I don’t know. I know about magic and mentalism but I don’t know anything about writing a play so I’m excited to work with a dramaturg who is a specialist in her field. I’m excited to have other people be part of this vision.

What is magic for you?

That’s a tricky question! How much time do we have? I struggle with most magic that I see as part of the magic scene. I think some theatre touches more on this magical experience than typical magic shows – for example Money by Shunt. I saw their show and thought, this is how a magic show should be. I didn’t know that David, the director, used to be a magician.

Good magic for me is something that you enjoy even if you know how it’s done. You don’t see a painting and want to tell everybody that it’s not real; it’s a trick done with a brush. You accept that the artist is trying to tell you something else. Most magic shows don’t try to tell you something else.

How do you want people to feel when they experience the show?

I want to facilitate a connection between the people who come to the show. 

I’m a Tom Waits fan and I love the performative aspect of his shows - there’s a direct line between the performer and the audience. I’d like the audience to be fulfilled. With some magic shows, I feel as soon as you know how it’s done, there’s nothing else to hold onto. 

I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. For me, magic is something that keep you in the moment, where you’re so absorbed in what you’re experiencing, you don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow.

Additional information

DAS SPIEL will be at Ovalhouse 12-16 May 7.45pm, 16 May 2pm matinee. Book here.