Podcast: Access (not) all areas with magician Rob West

The Disability Download

This month, Isaac is joined by magician Rob West, who is one half of magic duo Rob and West. Rob, who has Multiple Epiphyseal Dysplasia, reflects on how growing up with a disability led to his stage presence as a performer. 


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Rob West: And when you look at representation in film and TV and theatre and any sort of performance based thing, like one of the reasons we don't have a proper representation is that there aren't disabled writers and directors and stuff who are being able to tell stories and therefore make characters that are disabled without that just being the entire plot based around them.

But also there is a limited pool of disabled acts and talent, because how do you learn your trade, when you can't get on stage? Like if there are only four venues you can perform in within 200 miles of where you live, like how, how are you going to get gigs?

Erin O’Reilly: Hello and welcome to The Disability Download, brought to you by pan-disability charity Leonard Cheshire. I’m Erin O’Reilly and on this podcast, we respond to current topics, share stories and open up conversations about disability.

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Hi everyone and thanks so much for tuning into another episode! So you’re in for a bit of a magical episode this month as we’re joined by disabled magician Rob West, who’s one half of the duo Morgan and West. Rob has performed in shows all around the world and he joins my colleague Isaac this month to give his take on diversity and inclusion in the performing arts.

He reflects on what it was like growing up with Multiple Epiphyseal Dysplasia, perceptions of disability in his industry and why Edinburgh Fringe needs to up its game when it comes to accessibility. So, let’s hear from Isaac and Rob.

Isaac: My name is Isaac. I'm from Leonard Cheshire and I'm here with Rob Tate, magician extraordinaire, science whiz, and all around great guy. Today we're going to...

Rob: Didn't pay you to say that, didn’t pay you. [laughs]

Isaac: Yeah not a penny. So Rob, thank you so much for joining us. How are you?

Rob:  I'm very well. How are you?

Isaac: I'm very well. Thank you for asking. So could you just tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, why you’re here?

Rob: Yeah. So I am a theatre performer, so I make and perform shows as part of a double act called Morgan and West. We are best known as being magicians, but basically we do all sorts of stuff, mainly for kids. We do a science show. We've done a version of Three Musketeers. And essentially I travel around the UK, and to a lesser extent around the world, performing shows. Fun, silly magical shows.

Isaac: Around the world sounds interesting. Where have you been?

Rob: Oh, I've done shows in Australia, America, China, South Africa, all sorts yeah.

Isaac: Am I right in thinking you went to the US for a Penn and Teller show?

Rob: We did a Penn and Teller Fool Us and we went out and performed with them, 'cause we sort of fooled them and went out and did that. And then I've also done shows out in the Magic Castle in Hollywood. Uh, yeah. We've been to America quite a lot 'cause there's quite a big magic scene out there, and so we've done quite a bunch of stuff out there.

Isaac: That's cool. And obviously this podcast is The Disability Download, so you're not just here for being a magician. Could you tell us a bit about your disability? 

Rob: Oh yeah I’m also disabled. Yeah, so I have a condition called multiple epiphyseal dysplasia. Uhm, which is called something else by the Americans. Can’t remember what. Which is a disability that is mainly an orthopaedic thing and it's to do with deformities in your joints and things like that. And often shortening of your sort of long bones and that.

It's often characterised by a short stature and sort of foreshortened limbs and legs, and things like that. And in me it presents basically as I have got short legs and, I walk with a limp and yeah, and I have deformed sort of hips and knees, which affects pretty much everything I do.

Isaac: Fairbanks Disease I think is what they call it in America.

Rob: That’s what it is! Yeah, it's called Fairbanks Disease by the Americans.

Isaac: It puts you in the the privileged company of people such as Danny DeVito.

Rob: Yes, yes. I believe Danny DeVito has it. Although I have never, I’ve never heard him on record say it. And I'm always wary when I read these things on the internet and someone says oh by the way he’s got this got this. Yeah, oh really? And it’s like has someone just assumed 'cause he's small. You know? I know there is, the other person I know is there is a British Paralympian called David Weatherill who is a table tennis player. He definitely does have it and I've heard him talk about it.

Isaac: So your disability, how does it affect your working life in general?

Rob: So I'm fortunate in the work that I do in that becoming a double act, it means there's two of us. That's what double act means. And so a lot of the things that would limit me, I have someone else to do. So most of my, like my day on a day when I'm performing if I was getting up early, jumping in a van, driving a few hours to a venue, and then we load in, we build our set.

We do all that stuff. And there's a lot of time on our feet. Ryhs, who is my, is my business partner I perform with, does a lot of the physical heavy lifting and stuff of that for me. And if there is running around to be done and stuff to be put places in that, Rhys does most that for me.

I'm fortunate in my disability in that like there's not much I'm limited in doing in terms of like I can climb flights of stairs. I can walk. I can walk unaided and like I often walk with a cane but I can walk unaided. So a lot of that is stuff that I can do, but I try and minimise the amount I do because of it will cause stiffness and discomfort and pain later in the day.

And things like that. And after a day on my feet I will, like after a long show day, which is a lot of time on my feet doing setup and then the prep and then the tech and then doing the show and then meeting afterwards. Then I will be on the drive home, again with Rhys who usually does the drive home, that's when my legs will start to seize up and you know, I get pains and stiffness like that. 

On paper it's not a brilliant job for someone with the kind of condition I've got, because it is a lot time on my feet. It is a lot of standing up, it is a lot of carrying and lifting of things and climbing up flights of stairs and stuff. So I'm very fortunate to have a partner that can facilitate a lot of that. Yeah and often you turn up to venues and people, and there are venue techs and they will carry stuff for you.

But when you're starting out in this industry, like nowadays when you go to theatre and there is techs you’re like great, pick that up, put it over there. But when you're first starting out in some dinky little venue above a pub or performing in a village hall in the middle of Cheshire or something, then it really is just, you know, we would turn up as the performers and we would do everything. I am very fortunate to have some of the help in the outside stuff because performing and making theatre is a difficult job if you are disabled.

Isaac: So obviously you're talking about sort of having to set everything up, and maybe in the bigger theatres now you'll have stagehands to do that for you. But that doesn't change the fact that a lot of venues around the UK are very old and haven't been designed with disabled people in mind. Obviously I mean there's a million and one different guides which are all brilliant, things like Euan’s guide and Scope all have guides on accessibility of venues if you're going as a punter. As a performer, have you found that venues are less accessible?

Rob: Oh absolutely like, and this is not me complaining, I'm not complaining about the people that pay me to come and perform for them. Not at all. But yeah, we are in a situation now where as a disabled theatre goer, most places, like almost all places that I perform, and most places I even go and see things, there is access for disabled people because that is an understood thing. We are going to have disabled audience members. There's access for them.

There's lifts and ramps and all that kind of stuff that disabled patrons need. But yeah, the number of venues that have for example, step free access to the stage is tiny, like absolutely tiny. And the last couple of venues I played, because I've just come off a week of touring were both kind of yeah old rooms that were used for something else before and like now are something else. And the stage is just really high and the only way onto the stage is up a thin flight of steep steps or a very steep ramp at the back. Which is designed for wheeling setup. And like there's no other option for that.

And it's and it is a difficult one because I fully understand that theatres have no money. Like you know, are always running on a shoestring, and especially those ones that are run in old churches or old schools or old whatever, there's a lot of sort of you make do with what you've got and to create an artistic space for the community. But yeah, it is tough when you are a type of performer when, if I were more disabled than I am, if I had to walk with a frame or if I was in a wheelchair and stuff, so many venues would be out of bounds for me. 'Cause I wouldn't be able to get on the stage. 

And when you look at representation in film and TV and theatre and any sort of performance-based thing, like one of the reasons we don't have a proper representation is that there aren't disabled writers and directors and stuff who are being able to tell stories and therefore make characters that are disabled without that just being the entire plot based around them. But also there is a limited pool of disabled acts and talent, because how do you learn your trade, when you can't get on stage?

Like if there are only four venues you can perform in within 200 miles of where you live, like how, how are you going to get gigs. Yeah, and then there are, there are few like the modern venues now tend to be better for it and then a few venues on like and we do a lot of work with the Pegasus in Oxford which is a sort of family theatre venue there. And it's a modern cool venue and they have not only lifts and that. But full like step free access from the outside, to the backstage to the stage to the dressings rooms to the whole area, like completely separate. And modern things like that they are great and there are venues like that all over the country.

But when you've got your old matching theatre royals and things like that which are the really nice lux venues, they're the ones where to get onto the stage, yeah, you are probably going down a tiny spiral staircase at the back of thing 'cause your dressing room is just under the stage somewhere. 

And it yeah, it is tough when so much of the performing industry is about travelling to different places and doing different gigs. Most people that are actors or performers will have got good at what they do by travelling around the country and doing loads of gigs and loads of different venues. If you are a disabled performer, you don't have that opportunity, even without the fact that there aren't roles for you. Even without the fact that people aren't writing disabled stories, or worse than that, people are writing disabled stories and then casting able bodied actors in those roles.

Which I was talking with my partner this, my life partner Emma about this, I'm saying it's funny the the disabilities we’re OK with doing that with and the ones we’re not. So like it's like someone in a wheelchair sure, use an able bodied person, everyone’s fine with that. But then a character muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy like we understand that it would be wrong for someone to pretend to have cerebral palsy. And that's now viewed as not OK. But anytime you're watching a TV show that’s got someone in a wheelchair, or anything on a TV show where it's got someone who's you know, walks with a cane or who’s gotta walk with a frame or something ,it's always like, ah, we'll just get someone who can walk. Or deaf characters or blind characters again, they'll be like we will just cast someone who who's able bodied and they can just pretend. 

And then I get that acting is pretending. But you know, like in terms of when you see like, you see the thing where like oh so and so had to do a film about being a chef. And he went and worked in a professional kitchen for six months to learn what it's like to be a chef. And it's like, well, cool so if you, if you've got a film where someone is in a wheelchair, you know who's got loads of experience of being in wheelchairs, people in wheelchairs have got loads of experience! And it's that, that strange line where, some if you've got yeah, an abled bodied person learning to be a chef and stuff, everyone’s like wow, what a great actor. What a cool method thing to do to go and learn what it’s like to be in a kitchen.

But then when it's like oh, and this character is disabled are you going to cast a disabled person? And it’s like oh no well they're allowed to just pretend, they're allowed to just pretend it's only acting, you know? When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actor. And I remember watching like, I'd see TV and films and I'd see characters on TV in films who are in wheelchairs or had a cane or walked with a limp. And I had like a mental checklist in my head of like there’s a role I could play. There's a role I could play. There's a role I could play. And yeah, and I quickly gave up on that dream. Because, A, there weren't that many roles and B, all the actors in those roles were able bodied.

So it was clear they weren't going to give those roles to disabled actors. It's one of things that I really enjoy doing. And when I perform on stage I often walk with a cane, partly 'cause it suits the character I play sort of. But also because it alleviates some of the pain in my joints and stuff. And it's really nice when you get kids that have that clearly have orthopaedic issues. Seeing someone on stage being silly and funny and doing nonsense with a cane, that we never mention, we never mention it. We never make reference to the fact I walk with a cane. I just walk with a cane.

Isaac: Worth mentioning at this point, so a lot of your shows that you've done have had a Victorian theme haven’t they?

Rob: Well yeah, well sort of, we've got looser with it over the years. But we've always had a sort of period aesthetic.

Isaac: Do you think that was ever part of the reason that you went for that aesthetic, was the fact that it really looks cool wearing a top hat and tails with a cane?

Rob: I don't know if that's part of the reason for it because what I did, I only started walking with cane like intermittently from about the age of 25. And I've been doing magic and performing longer than that. I mean, maybe somewhere in the back of my mind. But it is, it's definitely a reason that I can get away with it more than other people can. And we definitely get....a lot of people assume it's a character trait. It's a character choice. Because yeah, it does suit my character to have a cane because I’m fancy [laughs].

And maybe I just have a cane because I'm fancy. And yeah maybe it would be more jarring when, if I were you know, it doesn't really suit me. But if I were Dynamo, maybe it was, you know, it would look weirder f I walked with a cane or would be perceived as weird if I walked with a cane. That's one of the things that you face generally. I used to say as a young man who's disabled. But now I'm at the age I can say as a man who's disabled but not old, should we say.

That yeah, you know that that same like lowkey disbelief from people that you're walking with a stick and you're yeah, you know in your 20s or 30s. And people would often ask you what you've done. Or if you hurt yourself and stuff. It's obviously them just trying to be nice, but it never occurs to them that I've not hurt myself, I just walk with a stick. It kind of never occurs to people that like, yeah, this is just the reality of my life and sometimes yeah well so there's a tone of voice that people use, especially a certain sort of age and generation of people that are always like, oh, what have you done? Eh? As if there's going to be some amusing story for why I'm walking with a cane. And then, and you sort of say actually I’m disabled I always walk with this. And people do not know how to handle that. They do not know how to deal with someone saying that.

Isaac: So in your in your time when you've been touring, have you met many other disabled performers or maybe even performers who weren't disabled and became disabled later in life, so acquired disabilities? 

Rob: Yeah, I honestly I know so few disabled performers. Like the ones, so the ones that spring to mind, and this is like, by know, this is like people I'm sort of roughly in the same sphere as like, obviously Lee Ridley, who's lost voice guy who won Britain Got Talent the way back. Obviously he's a disabled performer and so we sort of vaguely know him. Adam Hills from The Last Leg. Obviously again you get like disabled performers like that again, again who’s sort of part of Team Orthopaedic and things like that.

And then there's a performer I know called Johnathan Goodwin, who's an escapologist and stuff who recently became disabled, so sort of joined the club! Even with Johnathan, actually I think, I don't know if he's planning to perform again. Because actually I think sort of, I have a lot of admiration for people that become disabled, which sounds sound odd. But when you're born like this, when you're born a certain way, you don't know any different. And when you're born disabled, that is your life, and so I don't have a sense of what it's like to not be disabled.

So I'm I'm yeah, I'm not someone who can like I can't like, run or jump or climb trees. That's not really like stuff that I can do, but I've never been able to do that, so it's not...I don't find that a struggle. I think people when they look at disabled people and they look at, especially you get the whole thing of like when people use the term wheelchair bound. As if like as if you're confined to a wheelchair.

That's a very ableist view of a wheelchair because that is the view of someone who doesn't need a wheelchair imagining what it's like to be in a wheelchair. Well for a person, who, who can't walk and has to use a wheelchair, wheelchairs are very freeing. You're not bound by it, you’re freed by it. You can now travel long distances and know, do things like.

And yeah, I think it's, I have a lot of admiration for people, basically people who become disabled because they do feel that sense of loss I think. And when you look at Paralympians and stuff who, let's face it, make the rest of us disabled people look really bad. Yeah, especially when you hear of those that that had been in an accident and lost a leg or lost their sight or whatever and then go “oh no, I'm still gonna carry on.” You’re like, fair play. 'cause we like, like when you’re born disabled you don't have a choice, this this is your life, and that's all you've ever known.

And so, like I'm not, I'm not sat, I'm not sat there going like oh I wish I could go for a run 'cause it sounds terrible and I never have to. But like yeah, like whereas when you see people who have acquired a disability then yeah, I actually think people that are really impressive in a way that....again generally disabled people we hate being called impressive because we don't have a choice and we don't do anything different. It's not inspirational to live your life. But I think when you are someone who's basically able bodied and you lose that and you become disabled, I think it is impressive when those people can be very positive and can be very outgoing and can carry on living what they've known. Because you could understand those people being like oh man, this sucks.

You know, whereas I think disabled people in general are some of the toughest people you will ever meet because we live our lives in pain, we live our lives not having the same opportunities and access and everything that other people have and being and having limitations that other people don't have and that makes you hard, [laughs], that makes you tough.

Isaac: I mean you've said it to me before you think you've got a really high pain threshold because you're just always experiencing pain.

Rob: Yeah yeah, yeah. Like again I'm lucky, I'm not someone who’s in constant pain but I would say that I'm in pain every day of my life like at some point at some point I'll experience pain over the course of the day. Yeah, but yeah, but I'm, I think I'm pretty good at it! I think it can be... you  sometimes get people framing disabilities and I think in a way that tries to be positive but is being disabled is like having a superpower, you're really special! And it's like, and I think that's that's wrong.

Because it denies the reality of what it is to be disabled and also it enhances the abnormality of it weirdly. I think you know, like the disabled person isn't Superman or Super Wonder Woman or whatever, like a disabled person is just a person living their life. And yeah, and then it's not meant to be like oh, and you know, we don't need abled bodied people to talk about how great it is or how groovy is.

But I think a lot of people, a lot of disabled people would say that they are kind of thankful for their disability because it makes you the person you are. And it gives you a strength and strength of character that I think a lot of us have done well with. People sometimes talk to me because obviously I'm someone who can stand on stage in front of a lot of people and talk and be silly and do whatever I want. And I never get nervous about that. And I do partly relate that to having the easy confidence of someone that grows up disabled. Because you, you get less shy because sort of, if you're always standing out a bit anyway, when you're growing up and that, standing out’s less like “Oh I can't imagine everyone looking at me 'cause I look different”, because you do, that's what your life is. But you become very comfortable with that.

Isaac: No that all makes a lot of sense, and I've never really thought about this shyness aspect of how that might have helped you stand up on stage for the first time.

Rob: And I think maybe as well there is a sense that performing has always been like an armour to me. Because when I was a kid and I was a disabled kid, there was stuff I couldn't do. I didn't do PE at school. I didn't play football, I didn't run around with my mates. I couldn't do any of that stuff and so I always sought something I could do that was like, that was impressive or something I could do that made me stand out in a way that I controlled. And I think it's yeah, it's I think why performing is really great for me and I think can help kids that have things that are different.

When you're on stage, you make people laugh or you do something impressive or do a trick or whatever it is and people like that. Or you might play a song on piano. When people like that, it's like cool, that's the thing and that's the reason that people are looking at me and paying attention to me. So something I've actually done in a positive light and not like, and not because of this, or yeah, the sort of low key fuss that you engender when, when people realise you're disabled and be like oh do you...oh should we..oh do you need. And yea and like or when you're a kid and like people fuss more about disabled kids, 'cause they're more worried about them.

Even though, like kids are kids and kids are robust and you know and they're gonna fall over and hurt themselves and do stuff like that and sort of a lot of disabled kids are no different to the other kids that they know, but you just notice them more, and I think for me performing was a way of being noticed in a way I wanted to be noticed.

Isaac: And it must be said, you are very good at your trade because...

Rob: Oh yeah, unbelievable [both laugh]

Isaac: When you went on Penn and Teller’s Fool Us, did you not fool them?

Rob: Oh yeah yeah we did yeah. But that all comes back to like I didn't, I didn't start good at magic. I made my name is magician. And when we started we were rubbish. Rhys and I were terrible, we were terrible because everyone’s terrible when you start, when you restart any skill or hobby, you're terrible and you get better at it by practising and I was very fortunate in that I was able to get a lot of practice of being a stage performer and being a stage magician because Rhys and I could go and do gigs together. And we could go and do shows together.

And because there were two of us and therefore, we could share the drive or Rhys would be driving and I would just direct or navigate you know? And when we’d do shows we could load stuff in and bring props and bring set and do all that kind of stuff because Rhys was there helping with that. So I was very fortunate in that I managed to get really good at what I do, because I had access to all of the rubbish gigs you do when you're starting out.

And the way you get good at magic or comedy or anything stagey or singing or anything is by doing it loads and performing loads. And often you're not performing the most salubrious of venues, whatever cause when you're starting out as a comedian or magician or a singer or whatever, you're doing village halls. You're doing pubs. You're doing rooms above pubs. You're doing that kind of stuff. Yeah. So part of the reason I’m able to be good at what I do, is that those opportunities weren't denied to me? 

Because especially when I started out like sort of my condition 'cause it, 'cause I also have osteoarthritis and that like is sort of, maybe degenerative is the wrong term, it’s too harsh term, but like basically it's getting worse as I get older. You know as I get older I'm getting more pain as I get older, I'm getting stiffer. You know? And but when I was younger, I could pretty much pass for able bodied, like I walked with a bit of a limp, but maybe I just had a cool swagger! You know and I got past that and yeah, so I am able to be in the position I am now with my career and in the industry I work in, because I was able to access those kind of avenues that people that able bodied people can always access.

But yeah, but it's a, we're still in place with the theatre industry, where I think the opportunities for performers with disabilities are much fewer and further between, especially if it's not just, if you know there are companies out there are theatre companies and there are theatres... is  it the tricycle that’s in North London I think that's got disabled group in it?

But like that have like we do shows with disabled people in and that's great, but, you know so much of the, uh when you think great comedians, and great magicians, and great singers, they weren’t... none of them were great overnight. Adele wasn't great overnight. Adele put loads of working and did load of gigs that no one knows about. All those people that you look at and be like well that person’s just really good at what they do, it's because they've had the opportunity to try and fail and get better and improve and learn things and do all that.

And one of the things I think in general in sort of the theatre and performance and light entertainment industry, which is basically what I work in, is that if you're a disabled performer, you don't get chance to be bad at things enough. And that's why we don't have more disabled talent now and we are getting better now. Like especially like stand up comedy's way, well ahead of I think most of the rest of the industry in terms of like we are seeing good disabled stand ups coming through and like disabled stand up nights happening where like everyone on the bill has a disability and stuff like that.

And shows like The Last Leg with Adam Hills and Alex Brooker and that, and Josh Widdecombe who's like the the token able guy. [laughs] Who's on like all the tv shows anyway. So you just need to have him, it was gonna be him or James Acaster wasn’t it. But shows like that are great for sort of like just giving opportunities and create and bringing disabled talents to in front, to bring them in front of audiences.

And yeah, and so now, yeah, you can go and there are shows at the Edinburgh Fringe or there are nights and comedy nights that you can go to that are disabled people making jokes about being disabled. Like just like people have been doing for like...as in other minority groups have been doing for years and years and years. And like, and comedy is well ahead of, I think other things like acting like yeah film and TV and that kind of stuff and I think like writing and directing and that.

Isaac: You mentioned very briefly Edinburgh Fringe there, so I was just wondering, so obviously with so you've mentioned accessibility in venues, but with Fringe, the whole city is the venue, and there's obviously a lot of much smaller...I've been to it a few times there’s downstairs rooms and pubs down narrow staircases and things like that. 

Rob: Ah the Fringe is awful for access, it is. I mean, so I built my career at Fringe. I've been there many, many times. A lot of our work comes from being seen at the Fringe and making contacts at the Fringe. It's an incredible and amazing place to spend your Edinburgh. It is awful for disabled people. Like so we have to be very careful now because some years ago we were doing a show in a room in Edinburgh. It was like 180 hundred, 190 seats and it's like a lecture theatre space. But because of the way the stage was built in we had someone come to our show and he with his son to come to see our kids magic show and his son couldn't get in because he was in a wheelchair and there's just no access for a wheelchair. So now when we do Edinburgh we refuse to play spaces that won't, that don't accept wheelchairs.

Isaac: But Edinburgh should be refusing to host....

Rob: Well exactly yeah.

Isaac: At venues that have no access.

Rob: But it's because there are so many. Yeah, so many venues. There's like thousands of venues and rooms and things and it is the back of a pub. Some random thing built in a car park. Like all these kind of spaces, spaces that are sort of  two spaces that are one room with a very thin wall, put like, forcing it up between them. But yeah, it's just really, really bad for it in terms of because it's and also because it's pop up. It's that thing of going like “well, it's only here for a month it's not a proper venue. It's not proper full-time venue.”

And yeah, it's like, I can't, I mean, I honestly I can't imagine being a disabled punter in Edinburgh because the city itself is not really built for disabled people. Because of the hills and the cobbles and rain and the cold and now how crowded it is in the Fringe, I can't imagine it must be absolute nightmare for disabled patrons. But yeah, but for disabled performers as well. There are so many venues you couldn't play. Like so many rooms you can't do. And then even the ones that you do have look like, you get it all the time, not just at the Fringe, but like you know you'll have a venue that will have a lift in it.

And because it's a busy month and it's being used a lot, if that lift breaks down and it's just like oh sorry that lift’s out of order. It’s like one of those problems of going, which is annoying for people that want to use the lift 'cause they're carrying a heavy box, you know, but if you're a disabled person, that means you then you've lost access to half of the building that's in. And like there's like that situation of going, and oh that's in the middle of the Fringe and it could take us a few days to get engineer out. Like, well, cool, you've now lost half of the building for several days at a time. 

So like, yeah it is. And again with all this stuff like, I acknowledge it's not going to change overnight, and it's difficult. Accessibility is a difficult thing to do. Because it often involves changing the way things are and any change is difficult. When you've got an established system and establish way of things being, especially when that established system is literally the way a building is constructed, it's always gonna be difficult to effect change and it's always hard to effect change.

But it's about kind of convincing people that, that change is necessary, even if it only benefits a small group of people. Like the one that I really like is the whole not yet disabled thing you know about disability of like there are two types of people, disabled people and not yet disabled people. If you, because if you’re pitching someone, oh, what I want to do is I want to go into this old building and I want to gut a central column of it and put a lift in.

That's the kind of thing where people go, oh no, you can't do that, it's nice, it's older. It's too much money. It's not worth it. And it’s always worth saying to that person like yes, but when you're older and disabled well, won’t you want to go up to whatever is on the 1st floor when you want to access this. When you want to, you know that building has got steps at the front won't you want to go up to do that when you're disabled when you're older?

Isaac: Just before we finish up, have you got any shows or plans in the near future? Anything you'd like to plug?

Rob: Uh, yeah, I mean you can, you can go to our website www.morganandwest.co.uk and all our live dates are on there. We've got shows coming up all through the end of this year and into next year and just probably on and on and on and on, you know. We don't stop, yeah.

Isaac: And can you tell us a little bit about your current show.

Rob: Our current show’s called Morgan and West Unbelievable Science. It is a big, fun, silly science show for kids and we've got like explosions and lightning and illusions and all sorts of stuff. And it's about showing cool stuff and getting kids enthusiastic about science and getting kids into the idea of like that's how science works and then how we approach science, not just making things pop.

Isaac: And finally, do you have any magic tricks that you can do that would work for audio only that you'd be able to perform?

Rob: No, but I do have a cool illusion I can show you.

Isaac: OK, that sounds great!

Rob: What you do is you get either some decks of playing cards or matchboxes that are in boxes right? So it's all like three matchboxes do it. Empty them all. And then in the top Matchbox you fill it with coins. or something heavy, and then the two underneath it you have empty. So you have empty matchbox, empty matchbox, matchbox full of coins. All you’re gonna do is you put it on the counter. You pick up all three of them at once. You put them down, then you just pick up the top one, which is where the coins are and when you pick up just the top one, it will feel heavier than all three put together. And even if you know, know it's going to happen it still works.

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Isaac: Brilliant, well I'm imagining that everyone who listens to this will instantly go find some matchboxes and try that.

Rob: I hope so.

Isaac: So Rob, thank you so much for taking your time out of your afternoon to speak with me. It's been a real pleasure to talk to you. 

Rob: Thank you so much for having me.

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Erin: Now I’m definitely keen to know if anyone tries that illusion at the end there though, so let us know if you do try it out! Thanks so much to Rob and Isaac for such an interesting episode. It was really great to hear from Rob about his experiences performing around the world and how his disability helped him develop his stage presence.

I’ll definitely be looking out for any Morgan and West shows in my area soon! And I'll pop all of the relevant social media links in the show notes of our Simplecast site so you can check those out there, and you can also find a full transcript of the episode there as well. 

We would love to know what you thought about the episode so let us know by getting in touch on Twitter or Instagram @Leonard Cheshire or by emailing us at disabilitydownload@leonardcheshire.org. And if there's a guest in mind that you really want to hear from, tag them on social, tag us and let us know. And as always please do remember to like, share and subscribe to the podcast.

Before we go, I wanted to give a quick shout out to our editor Sally Raper, who edits the podcast for us – thanks Sally!

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And thanks so much for listening everyone, until next time, I’m Erin and this has been The Disability Download!

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