MMF 2019 Review: You CAN Ask That – panel of women in magic

One of the new initiatives for the 2019 Melbourne Magic Festival was a panel of women in magic, titled “You CAN Ask That”. Hosted by multi talented performer and magician Carisa Hendrix – who also co-hosts a feminist podcast about magic with magician Kayla Drescher called ‘Shezam!‘ – the panel provided the opportunity for the public to ask any questions they liked, with a focus of women in magic. Whether online / before the event or in person at the panel, the public had many opportunities to send questions through.

Carisa Hendrix hosted the panel and kept the entire event focused / on topic, while the panel was made up of: young magician Prue Spencer; comedian and show producer Liz Skitch; and well known magicians Cath Jamison, Simone Turkington (currently based in L.A) and Lee Cohen. Panel discussions ranged from ‘how did you get started in magic?’ through to ‘do men and women perform magic differently?’ and ‘volunteer choices – male or female?’ and of course if they have any advice for women starting in magic / thinking of getting started in magic.

I found the panel informative, modern and fascinating, as I’m not a magician myself (though I have seen a lot of magic shows over the years) and each panelist had different experiences and perspectives to share. Much of the content was extremely positive and encouraging (especially the advice section) which was a nice note for the panel to end on. The panel was conducted respectfully, with each performer having time with the microphone. It would take me a long time to write about all of the conversations and comments that took place however I did like the broad messages of wanting magic to be an all inclusive activity and space for everyone to enjoy together; and the message of not to feel intimidated & that you are worthwhile and valid  – both important messages in an art form and world where ego can override things sometimes and people can become competitive.

The panel members and host all ensured that the audience walked away from the worthwhile activity with plenty of ‘food for thought’. I hope the festival includes more panels in future as it was a valuable activity that provided some interesting perspectives and some beneficial messages.

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