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Performance artist and Liar Tom Cassani exorcises his inner sceptic

Tom Cassani is a Performance Artist and Liar. He is interested in using elements of deception, misdirection and lying in his practice. He trained in sleight of hand, misdirection and stage magic and now uses these to explore truth, honesty and the importance of remaining wary of those who make extraordinary claims. Here, Tom shares some thoughts on his latest work I Promise You That Tonight (Camden People's Theatre, 31 March - 4 April).

Right now, I am sitting in my room surrounded by five of those big blue Ikea bags, you know the ones. Every bag is full, full of broken glass. Most of the glass has come from the bar my housemate works in. I spent many an afternoon perplexing my neighbours outside my back doorstep brandishing a hammer and gloves and going at the bottles. It’s mostly clear beer and wine bottles because I like the blue hue it makes when piled onto a stage.

For months running up to writing my new show I Promise You That Tonight and piecing together its many parts with dramaturge/director Peader Kirk, I would lay the glass out in my bedroom floor and stare at it. A path from one side to the other, that I would have to cross. This solitary act will now be relived on stage for 5 nights at Camden Peoples Theatre.

For me walking on broken glass is not a trick however it nods towards what some might call a feat of wonder. It encompasses a sense of the miraculous at the same time as being an old street performers stunt. This collision of the Showman and the Miracle Monger excited me. In many ways they are the same job, they use the same voice, the same vocabulary the same persona. In many ways it was what I wanted to be, I just found it difficult being honest about being both.

When writing the text for the show I delved into a world of pseudo-science and conspiracy theories. Fields riddled with fragmented truths and images of wonder. Things made sense. Or at least I was making them make sense.

I’ve been thinking about spontaneous human combustion for many years. Images of a pair of shoes at the foot of an armchair. People simply disappearing in a puff of smoke overnight. It’s a brilliant disappearing trick if anything. When I finally came to writing and doing something about it, I discovered that one of the most recent cases happened less than a mile from where I live. On a day when I was sat at home, very much like today. I realised that all these things swimming around in my head were close to home quite literally.

I found that the commonality of all these things was belief. The stuff I found myself writing about was stuff I believed in, wanted to believe in, had believed in or was told I should. I Promise You That Tonight then became a way of me exorcising both my inner sceptic and believer.

Walking on broken glass bare foot without severing an artery is a difficult thing to do indeed. I wouldn’t say that it’s a trick but it certainly isn’t comfortable. When people ask me ‘how do you do it without cutting yourself’ (and they often do) I tell them the truth, that me and the glass have spent a long time alone together and have come to an agreement.

Tom Cassani: Twitter @tomatocassata | Instagram @tomcassanistrangeboy
 
Tom Cassani and Peader Kirk
I Promise You That Tonight
9:00pm
31st March – 4th April
BSL Interpreted show 2nd of April
at Camden Peoples Theatre
Tickets and info: www.cptheatre.co.uk

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