Five Things

This week’s guest is a performer who specializes in hiding what he’s actually doing onstage — and directing your attention elsewhere. Brett Schneider is an actor and a magician, currently starring in “The Magic Play” at Actors Theatre of Louisville. It’s a show that Schneider helped devise with playwright Andrew Hinderaker, in which a magician is the main character — but Schneider is careful to emphasize that it’s not “a magic show” per se. 

The objects that Schneider brought in to talk about included — not surprisingly — a deck of cards, but also a symbol of his hometown of Oakland, California, and a tool he uses to feel at home wherever he may be.

On first getting into card tricks around age 8 or 9:
“If something bites you at that age, you can be kind of obsessed with it. You have the capacity to really go in on something, especially something that involves an immense amount of practice. That’s what a deck of cards was for me.”

On how he’s making temporary living space feel like home:
“In these two years of having the same couple of suitcases and moving my stuff around, I have walked into a new space to live at temporarily many, many, many times. Sometimes for a couple of weeks, or a couple of months, max. And as I’ve talked to some of my good friends and artist friends about this, about the idea of owning a space and making it a temporary home that actually feels good, feels warm and welcoming, I realized I wasn’t doing a great job of that. I was just kind of showing up, unpacking my stuff and just adapting to whatever space it was, rather than owning it in some small way.”

On the line (or lack thereof) between magic and theater:
“I think magic is just theater. When I think of myself, I’m a theater artist, and that involves acting in roles that don’t involve magic and it also involves playing the role of a magician when I perform magic. But for me, I’m approaching it all as [if] I’m making theater for people, even if I’m doing a gig as a magician.”

Tara Anderson is the host and producer of Five Things, a podcast about the objects that tell our stories.