James Issitt is a magician, director, dramaturge and educational arts practitioner. He read Drama and English at the University of Leeds (St. John's College, York) before studying for an MA in Text and Performance at King's College London and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). James completed his PhD in July 2020, entitled Performing Miracles: the real magic behind the performance - based on the performance theories of close-up magic.

He has worked as an actor and director across the country, including directing in London. James is a Member of the prestigious Magic Circle in London and performs close-up magic across the country.

James was the Performance Consultant for the 2016 UK tour of the Champions of Magic. He has presented papers at education and research conferences in Cumbria and Las Vegas. He has lectured twice at The Magic Circle in London offering performance tips for close-up magicians. Every year James attends the world’s largest magic convention in Blackpool to share his research and passion for magic.

Over the years, James has met several magic luminaries as part of his thesis including Derren Brown, Eugene Burger, Larry Hass, Lance Burton and Paul Zenon. James’ magic mentor is the world-renowned close-up magician Fay Presto.

He is a member of the Open University Validation Panel, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Within his teaching at the University of Cumbria James critically analyses play texts for performance and examines practitioner theories in practical environments. His teaching style allows the students to explore and develop their own practices and further enhance their creativity within practical workshops.

Outside of professional interests, James is passionate about performance magic, Shakespeare in performance, snooker and is a mean backgammon player.

Qualifications and memberships

  • PhD in Performance Magic
  • MA Text and Performance
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
  • BA (Hons) Drama with English
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Member of the Magic Circle (AIMC)

Academic and research interests

  • Performance magic
  • Magic history
  • Performance, Semiotics and Aesthetic theories