"From David Blaine’s death-defying feats of will to Harry Potter’s boarding-school victories against evil forces, the darker side of magic and its performance clearly strikes a cultural nerve. The conjuror’s act of bringing the impossible into being and summoning both the grotesque and marvelous with a sudden gesture challenges spectators’ assumptions of reality and fantasy. Performing Dark Arts explores the paradox of the conjuror and the broader cultural implications of magic’s assault on human perception.
Michael Mangan illuminates the history of the conjuring arts and tests the boundaries of theatrical scholarship by analyzing magic acts alongside more conventional dramatic forms. This bracingly original volume discusses the performances of individual magicians and public reception of their acts and locates the mysterious cultural significance of the dark arts and those who practice them. Shining a light on the grey area between acting and being, perception and reality, Performing Dark Arts is a book that will open your mind to the possibilities of magic."