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Magic Realism

In 1850s England, it was cheaper for a man to commit his wife to an insane asylum than to get a divorce. So that’s what many men did. This terrifying practice is documented in Aiden Sinclair’s new magic show, From a Padded Room: An Evening in Colney Hatch Asylum. The show began in conjunction with artist Forrest King’s Battered Bride Project as a benefit to raise awareness about domestic abuse, and it has since grown into a traveling show that raises money in every city it visits for safehouses that support survivors of abuse.

“Normally when I perform, the object of magic is the suspension of reality, to take people away from the world and bring them into some imaginative creation that’s somewhat impossible,” explains Sinclair. “This, however, seemed like something that you needed to bring people to, not away from.”

The show takes people back in time to the very real lunatic asylum Colney Hatch, where many committed women, most of whom likely had no mental illness, lived alongside the criminally insane until they died. Using mentalism, master magician Sinclair teaches audiences about this asylum by having them pick a real person who was committed there and journeying empathically back to the iron gates of the terrifying place.

Five dollars from every ticket will be donated to SafeHouse Denver, which provides emergency shelter, counseling and advocacy for survivors of domestic violence. The show runs tonight at 7 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo Event Hall, 1628 16th Street. Tickets, $20 general admission and $25 VIP, are available at the door and in advance at For more information about SafeHouse Denver and 24-hour crisis help, call 303-318-9989 or visit
Sat., Sept. 8, 7 p.m., 2012


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