Theatre & Consultancy

The person sitting opposite me is looking at a picture projected on to the wall behind my head. He asks me to describe the picture without turning round and looking at it. The results are uncanny. The picture I describe is indeed very close to the picture he is observing. And how do we explain the fork that really did seem to heat and bend between our palms? Or the other strange events involving telepathy and ESP that take place in that darkened room with its ancient reel-to-reel tape recorders and outdated equipment, a place where the light occasionally seems to conjure ghostly images and you hear snatches of people talking.
A great deal of theatre relies on sleight of hand and the directed eye, but most of all on the audience’s suspension of disbelief. Simply Told’s sly little show plays on all three to considerable effect in a piece that casts the audience of two as the protagonists, subjects in a 1980s experiment taking place in a psychic research laboratory. The cunning beauty of the piece is that while afterwards we may ponder how they did it, the truth is that we are doing it to ourselves. We want to believe and so we do, just as we want to believe that fairies exist in Peter Pan or that the actor before us really is King Lear…

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian


Jon Armstrong has over 20 years’ experience as a magician, theatre maker and lighting designer, working in the creation, design and realisation of magic and theatrical performance. He has designed magic effects for traditional, immersive and site-specific theatre, ranging from large-scale illusions to psychological and suggestion-based effects.
Jon has worked with some of the most exciting creative companies in the UK, with clients including HermesLost & FoundGideon ReelingGoat & Monkey and Coney. He is also resident magician at the communications company AGL International.

As a result of this experience, Jon is an authority on the combination of magic and theatre. He has contributed a chapter on magic and immersion to a Routledge reader, spoken and performed at the Natural History Museum, the Barbican Centre and the Chicago Magic Lounge, and was recently invited to lecture at the Magic Circle on magic & light. He is also a Lecturer in Lighting Design at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

Jon has worked and performed all over the world, but his proudest achievement in magic is his ongoing work with Breathe Arts Health Research, which uses magic training and occupational therapy to transform the lives of young people with Hemiplegia.


Jon’s magic consultancy on Better Thank Life was… magic. Not only did he bring the technical know-how of a seemingly-endless amount of magic tricks, but he also had a real sense of theatrical storytelling. His collaborative attitude and inventiveness allowed the magic he brought to the show to inform the script, and his work with the actors meant that they could integrate misdirection and other magical skills seamlessly into their performance.



We are a small, high-end Communication Skills training organisation, and we’re always looking to add a new edge to what we do. With this in mind we booked Jon M Armstrong to run an all-day internal workshop for us, helping us investigate where our practice might meet his world of magic. The pre-course consultancy was exemplary, and he demonstrated a superb understanding of what we needed.

The day itself was exquisitely run, blending performance, teaching, discussion, reflection, and investigation, with fun, laughs and intellectual rigour. It was universally heralded as our best ever internal workshop (we’ve been going for 54 years), and will undoubtedly have a long-term influence on our training and performance methodology. I would recommend Jon to any team, in any field, who wanted to look at their own performance, and the effect they have on their stakeholders, while learning some tricks with which to astonish their friends. Thanks Jon.