MMF 2022 Performer Spotlight: Aiden McHarg

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Recently, I was lucky enough to sit down with Aiden McHarg from Stopwatch Magic to talk about the mysterious noir magic show he’ll be bringing to the 2022 Melbourne Magic Festival, titled “Tableau Noir”. Please read on to discover more.

1. ‘Tableau Noir’ has quite a mysterious title. What can you tell us about this show?
Tableau Noir is a play on words. “Tableau” is a theatrical technique that employs frozen images on stage to communicate the story, while “Noir” is a genre of crime films that utilise harsh contrast and black and white to emphasise mood. “Tableau Noir” is French for “blackboard”.

This show is a silent black and white crime drama set to music, employing magic to create wonder and beauty through the storyline. The set is comprised of three doors coated in blackboard paint, and the detective draws his surroundings during the show.

2. What are you looking forward to in the 2022 Melbourne Magic Festival?
I’m looking forward to showing my work as a multidisciplinary artist. I’ve been developing this show for three years, and I’m excited to share my art as a magician, mime, and theatremaker. I’m also happy to be producing a show for the first time – this is the first stage show I’ve written and produced, so it’s a big opportunity for me.

3. Without giving too much away, what can audiences expect from Tableau Noir?
Audiences can expect to see a noir movie brought to life on stage, using magic, miming, and music to achieve the beauty and mystery of the genre. A world of black and white, chalk and shadows. A twist on the classic, where jazz and mystery abound. 

4. What’s the inspiration for Tableau Noir? What (or who) inspires you / your magic?
I was inspired to create this piece in a few different ways. The obvious one is film noir, but vaudeville, silent movies, and Penn and Teller have all been influences. I created this as a way to combine my passions, and to create a show that is theatre first, and magic second. My director (Em Chandler) and I are working on using magic to further the story, not the other way around. 

5. To me, the term ‘Noir’ conjures up black and white tones, classic films and detectives / shady characters. Are you a fan of classic movies? If so, what’s your favourite?
I am a fan of the silent era of films, and I’ve watched a swathe of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin films. I think my favourite movie about the era however is Chaplin, starring Robert Downey Jr. It has the charm of the old films while bringing a bit of the modern magic and cinematography to it, and it delves into the history behind the silent era of films, which I love.

As for noir films in particular, I appreciate the art of them. The stories are fun, but primarily I love how the black and white nature of the films wasn’t at all a hindrance. They used the harsh lighting and shadows as an art form, to further the story and create the beautiful genre that’s still being recreated and referenced to this day.

Thank you, Aiden, for taking the time to discuss your passions for noir film and theatremaking, and how they influence “Tableau Noir”.

If this interview has piqued your interest, Tableau Noir runs from Monday July 4 to Saturday July 9th at The Butterfly Club (5 Carson Place, Melbourne CBD). Tickets are available here.

If you’d like to learn more about Aiden McHarg and Stopwatch Magic, here are some socials:

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