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Half Magic

Half Magic in Philly Fringe 2023

Co-Presented with the Cannonball Festival

Fidget Space 1714 N. Mascher Street


September 1, 2023 8.00pm
September 12, 2023 8.00pm
September 16, 2023 8.30pm
September 18, 2023 8.00pm
September 23, 2023 8.00pm

$25, Pay-What-You-Can Options Available

"A poignant, critical work that ought to be viewed, documented, and revisited, especially by immigrant parents, children of immigrants, and those with a biracial identity.” - Anito Gavino, thINKingDANCE


A cardboard box mountain looms over him. Joe knows his job – to take these relics of a life and do the impossible task of sorting them into “Trash” or “Treasure”. But as he opens the first box, he finds himself drawn through a portal to the past, reliving the moments that shaped him.


He hurtles from the stay-at-home care of his white mom, to the immigrant line-cook stories of his brown dad, to the warm memories of his childhood best friends: young adult fantasy novels. Harry Potter, Ender’s Game, and Half Magic spring from their boxes, whirling him back into their familiar worlds and lessons.


But…what lessons did they teach him, really? Suddenly, memories turn dark. As he sorts through the mountain of boxes, Joe realizes that there’s more to his story than he understood. Trash turns to treasure and vice versa as he reconceives his identity - from white, Harry Potter wannabe to a mixed race person in full command of his Half Magic. He looks around and realizes that there are others like him, caught between categories, also seeking a place to belong.

Content Advisories:

This event is appropriate for ages 13+
Violent Content
Audience Interaction

Loss of a parent, grief, symbolic self harm, discussions of race

Photo credit: Johanna Austin

Read Anito Gavino's review in thINKingDANCE of Half Magic at PAAFF 2020:
"The Superpower of a Biracial Child"

Development History

Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists

Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival

Asian Arts Initiative


Half Magic is the autobiographical story of a biracial white/South Asian child raised on stories of white heroes. Joseph Ahmed uses physical theater, storytelling, and circus techniques to explore the childhood narratives and social structures that led him to self-identify as white for most of his young life. Animorphs, Ender's Game, and Harry Potter form the cornerstones of his identity until a loss in the family forces him to reconsider everything. What place is left in his Bengali heritage after a lifetime of white protagonists?

Creation and performed by Joseph Ahmed

Directed by Cat Ramirez

Devising Direction by Mieke D

Sound Design by Damien Figueras

Prop Design by Sara Outing

Dramaturgical Support by L Feldman

Workshop Lighting Design by Lindsay Drucker


First produced at Asian Arts Initiative for the New Asian Futurisms Closing Reception in December 2019.


Developed through Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists Mini-Residency Program 2019-2021; filmed work-in-progress showing in July 2020.

Livestreamed as a workshop showing in the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival November 2020.

HM 7 stack.jpg

Half Magic's 2021 filming was featured as an Exhibition Screener as part of the First Annual Mixed Asian Media Fest in September, 2021. Joseph also appeared as a speaker at the festival, talking with Ariel Estrada of Leviathan Lab in NYC about the creation of the performance, mixed Asian identity, and more.

Half Magic Trailer

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