From Secondary School to Magic

It was Autumn 2008 that two secondary school teachers performed in their first magic show together, after only 18 months of ‘playing’ with magic. Prior to that they had both done some strolling magic at a few student society balls, often at the same time where people interested to book them would contact one and both would offer their services.

In the very early days they were known as Parabox Magic nowadays you will know them as Morgan & West – magicians, time-travellers & all round spiffing chaps.

Morgan & West have performed on Penn & Teller Fools Us, The Slammer and The Next Great Magician and these days can be found during lockdown with a weekly stream that runs on Tuesday evenings twitch.tv/morganandwest

Thankfully they had a little time to catch up with us here at Abracadabra Blow!

Hello Mr Morgan and Mr West, we thank you very kindly for your time today!

How old were you when you first got into magic and who would you say inspired you both? We got into magic independently, around the age of 20. Although we both knew each other through doing student drama shows, the interest in magic came from different avenues.

Mr Morgan enjoyed watching Derren Brown’s live shows and a bought Derren’s book Tricks of the Mind. Mr West used to do a lot of juggling in his teenage years and discovered magic through the early versions of cardistry, false shuffles and flourishes.

You met in Oxford, during your education, what were you studying? Mr Morgan was studying Physics and Mr West’s degree is in Chemistry.

Did you complete your studying or did magic take over? It depends on what you mean by complete! Mr West has an MChem and Mr Morgan has a BA Phys.

Is your act together your only career, or do you have other work? If so doing what? We were both secondary school teachers from 2009 to 2011 but since leaving those jobs behind we have earned our living solely through Morgan & West.

Do you have a favourite magic trick to perform? Something that makes an audience laugh and is really silly is usually at the top of our list. At the moment it’s probably the closing of one of our family shows – An Amazing, Death Defying, Underwater Card Trick.

What is your most complex trick? Methodologically, probably anything involving code work. That takes a lot of time and practise although feels simple to us these days.

What’s the worse botch up in front of an audience how did you handle it? We have messed up almost every trick that we have ever performed in all sorts of ways. The worst was probably the wheels coming off the sawing in half whilst Mr Morgan was in two pieces. Hilarious for the audience and Mr West but terrifying for Mr Morgan.

What’s the best thing about being magicians? It affords us a lot of latitude for creativity.

What’s the best thing about working together, you really do seem to bounce off each other which is great to watch? We’re friends first and business partners second. We share a sense of humour and outlook on life. We want to have fun, it’s great having a job where we get to have fun with our best friend every day.

And the worst about being magicians, and working together ☺? It’s proving a little tricky to cast off the label of magician. We haven’t really done much magic publicly for nearly two years now and are writing and performing other shows. I think once you are magician, it sticks with you for a long time!

If you could perform anywhere in the world where would it be? As a one off? New Zealand, Japan, or Canada. We’d love to go to these places. As a regular gig? Somewhere halfway between our houses.

Who’s your favourite magician of all time? I think we’re both great fans of Derren Brown, Penn & Teller, and Barry & Stuart. Paul Daniels was also brilliant.

Do you enjoy watching others performing and what goes through your mind when you watch magic? We enjoy all good performances, no matter what the discipline is. When watching magic it’s almost impossible to turn off the part of the brain which just sort of sees how the trick is being done, so it’s always a joy to watch a show which manages to bypass that.

What’s your preferred size audience to perform for? Do you prefer intimate or large scale events? It depends on the size and shape of the room. A full 100 seat theatre is miles better than a half full 200 seat one. Full auditoria of 200-400 seats are usually the most enjoyable.

Most rewarding career moment? Half way through the Edinburgh Fringe run of Unbelievable Science and realising we’d got the show right. Our first non-magic show and it was better than anything we’d written before. It felt like a culmination of a decade of work.

How diverse do you see the magic industry? Visibly lacking in diversity.

How have you been spending lockdown? Writing a new script for a possible outdoor show in the summer of 2021. We’ve also learned how to do some streaming and a few other bits and bobs. Lots of little projects really, nothing too stressful.

Morgan & West present: The Three Musketeers should hopefully be touring in the UK in the summer of 2021.

Thank you both, can’t wait to see you on stage soon!

Carol Cooper

Carol Cooper

Married to Antony, Mum to our children. Full time working in media for over 20 years, part time writer and assistant to Antony, which I guess makes me a magicians assistant :-)

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