The illusory life of the magician Esme Levante – The story Listen


Jumping from a high handcuffed and chained diving board or escaping from a padlocked trunk was not the usual route for a young woman in the 1930s and 1940s. But for Esme Levante, escapologist, magician and cabaret artist, it was was his way of life.

As the daughter of one of Australia’s most accomplished magicians, the Great Levante, and his performer wife Gladys Cole, Esme was on stage from the age of five. For decades her career has been eclipsed by her more famous father, but hidden in the archives is a story of talent and tenacity, and a woman who forged her own distinct style in the male world of magical performance in the century. latest.


Founder Claudia, Arts Center Melbourne research coordinator

Kent blackmore, historian of magic and author of “Levante- sa vie, pas d’illusion”

Dr John Zubrzycki, author and 2021 Merewether Fellow at the State Library of NSW

Maxwell Hunt, the son of Esme Levante

John newman, co-founder of Newman Entertainment and performer of “How’s Tricks”

Sue Anne Webster, magician

Readings by: Nicola Fern (Esme), Georgia Power, Tim Callanan, Joanna Crothers, Patrick Stokes, Christian Price, Matthew Crawford, Michael Cathcart

Excerpt from Esme Levante at the Malvern’s Magicians Convention, June 27, 1938, Copyright Reuters / British Pathe, United Kingdom

Extract of Esme Levante playing in La piste aux étoiles, March 9, 1960, Institut national de l’Audiovisuel, France

This program was produced with the assistance of the 2021 Frank Van Straten Fellowship at the Arts Center Melbourne

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