The 42nd Bristol Day of Magic
12th May 2002
Reported by Mandy Davis
Some of the best weather greeted registrants this year on their arrival in Weston Super Mare last weekend. Once again, they found themselves seated in the ballroom of the Winter Gardens as Mike Gancia and President of the Bristol Society, Pete Ashby, opened the proceeding with short speeches.
The Roy Darnley Memorial Lecture featured the day's International Star - Whit Haydn. One of the founders of the Magic Castle's School for Scoundrels, which teaches cheats and scams, Whit opened with a well-honed penknife routine using two knives followed by his version of Red Hot Momma/Chicago Opener which he calls Chicago Surprise. One great difference was the use of a Classic Force instead of a Hindu one for the second selection and Whit explained that he uses this trick when he teaches beginners. He gave good examples of using the Brainwave deck as an 'out' if the force doesn't work and gave us his theories on the Brainwave deck in general. 'Routine for the Blind' was worth the price of convention admission alone and used two standard tricks plus coding ideas for a third to enable a miracle to occur which would feature a blind person as its star. Finally, Whit demonstrated Endless Chain or 'Fast and Loose' as it was called in medieval times according to Shakespeare. He gave an intense session on this to end what had been a very well explained, very interesting lecture.
The close-up session before lunch was repeated later in the afternoon and each registrant had a ticket to determine which time and room they were to attend. I saw Martin Cox opening in my particular room, performing the act which had won him the Rovi Trophy at last year's IBM British Convention. Lots of gags and ad libs from the Cockney Hard Man of Magic with a selected card spinning from the deck, another sliding itself out onto the table (once the thread had been untangled!) and some strong coin vanishes. Martin's own King of Warped was next, and the act was ended by the appearance of a full sized parking meter.
Sean Carpenter had won the recent Blackpool Convention Competition. He started by making two modelling balloons penetrate each other and continued with a card trick using a deck strung on a wide black ribbon. The first selection was named by him then found inside an envelope in his wallet; the second was the only card reversed in the deck. Another selection was found in the spectator's pocket. This was to be the Day of the Torn & Restored Newspaper and Sean was the first to perform it. He then cut to four of a kind, changing them to the four aces for a climax - all whilst blindfolded. To end his act, he sliced a knife into a deck to reveal two cards which gave value and suit of a card in a spectator's pocket.
It was good to see Whit Hadyn perform his Chicago Surprise out of the lecture setting and as an opener for his set. He followed with a 'Card to Pocket' routine and some great manipulations of one card into four, something you don't usually see in a close-up session. Ambitious Card started a well-honed finale which continued into Card in Wallet and ended with Card on Ceiling.
Alistair Cook is always trying something different. Coin appearances and vanishes were our introduction to him before he launched into appearing ringing mobile phones and multiplying phones, ending with appearing giant phones. He continued with his familiar miniature top hat and ball routine, producing the ball over and over again from his pen top. After a quick rope routine he vanished a volunteer's ring, finding it inside a sealed walnut.
The Young Magicians' Club ran a Junior Workshop for all those under the age of 18. Around eighteen boys and girls attended and, with the help of Just Jayne, John van der Put, Richard Pinner and Tim Shoesmith, we were able to have very small hands-on teaching sessions covering stuff that the juniors themselves wanted to learn. Basic card handling as well as advanced skills were covered, Hunters Knot and Cut and Restored Rope, with coin vanishes and proper presentation of the Appearing Wand gave all the attendees plenty to think about and plenty to practise.
The afternoon lecture was given over to children's magic and words of wisdom from Terry Herbert. I was unable to attend due to being needed elsewhere but I head nothing but good reports about it afterwards. Terry's newest item, The Silly Wand, was such a hit that he sold out well before the queue for it had died down. He also covered routining for Silver Sceptre, Diminishing Gloves, T & R Tissue Paper and Flighto Flower.
The nice thing about Bristol is that there is plenty of time for shopping and socialising, without feeling rushed in any way. The selection of goodies for sale was tempting as ever and the twenty-three dealers present made sure that these temptations were varied. The Bristol Society's own stand, where members had brought along goods of their own which they wanted to sell, attracted a lot of interest too.
So on to the Gala Show. Opened by the Daniel Dean Dancers, we were able to witness Richard Pinner, the evening's compere, taking a reasonable stab at being part of a chorus line. After a Tossed Out Deck opening, Richard introduced Keith Cooper and Carol whose act as known - including stole production, Torn & Restored Newspaper, vanished head illusion, Cut & Restored Rope, Mutilated Parasol and sword basket - did not suffer from the loss of their music soon after their opening sequence.
Richard Pinner then returned to blow up an audience member's (!) mobile phone before the curtains opened to reveal Rousseau standing under his usual lamppost on Le Rue de Magie. Another Act as Known with cigarettes, matches and lighters appearing, disappearing and multiplying in elegant style. The final appearance of a dove from a bouquet of roses is a lovely moment and was hugely appreciated by the audience of magicians and members of the public.
A word here about magicians as an audience. Early in the proceedings Richard had asked where the lay people were sitting and a great many of them were front of stalls. This was made obvious from the sound of the applause. However, the magicians seemed to curtail any that acts might have got during sequences by not applauding themselves. The public clapped, found they were doing so mostly on their own and subsided in embarrassment! For goodness sake, Members of the Magic World, show enthusiasm for your art. Encourage others who are up there performing for your entertainment. So you've seen mutilated parasol many times before, you know the intricacies of Cut and Restored Rope - but that makes matters worse as you know the applause cues and should react accordingly. There is talk of the public not applauding because they are a TV watching nation - let's use gala shows to teach them how to behave as an audience because we will all benefit from the lesson!
To continue - the first half closed with the infinite charm of Geoffrey Durham. Torn & Restored Newspaper made yet another appearance followed by a light bulb which shattered when stared at. Obviously this made a mess of the stage - so what better way to clean it up than to produce an Appearing Broom from a small paper bag! The three card trick was performed with panache - and three gigantic cards; a Rubik cube was instantly solved and then three borrowed wedding rings were amazingly linked. Hydrostatic Glass finished Geoffrey's act, utilising so large and heavy a jug of water that it was obviously a strain to lift it. After seeing this snippet of performance, it is easy to see why this expert performer's one man show is a constant sell-out.
After a short interval, the Daniel Dean Dancers were back again before Richard Pinner returned to test the audience's mental rapport via thought-of geometric shapes. Roy Davenport repeated his Great Grandfather's act with Roy's all-enveloping enthusiasm and smile lifting this collection of tricks, manipulations and colour-changing waistcoats out of the dust sheets of the past and into validity of the present.
Richard Pinner provided an interesting interlude with a 'Find the Lady' effect - using three children from the audience and three Magic Colouring Books. Then Whit Hadyn, still in sports jacket and tie as his luggage had been re-routed to Hungary, aped the Masked Magician by also revealing how standard tricks were done. His choices, however, were cod explanations such as Silk to Egg, Cut and Restored Rope, Equal/Unequal Ropes and then - the piece de resistance. Whit asked for a young volunteer to help with Linking Rings. Onto the stage ambled Ben, a Downs Syndrome boy, who absolutely stole the show! Every time the audience applauded, Ben took an elaborate bow. Every time Whit counted to three before the magic happened, Ben's voice reverberated around the theatre too. Whit gave Ben absolute centre stage - and Ben and the audience lapped up every moment. It was sheer magic!
The final act, Martyn James & Company, opened with a flash of fire in a cage which turned into two girls. A spears through box illusion followed followed by Martyn changing a silk into a sock, the vanished silk being revealed tied to his ankle. A little balloon modelling/water juggling comedy sequence led into Heads Off and a backstage 'how it's done' appearance of first one, then two girls. Martin's 'Wall of Doom' showed him tied by several ropes to a brick wall; in seconds he reappeared outside of the curtain with his assistant imprisoned in his place. Finally he pushed one girl through an old fashioned wringer displaying her as completely flattened. When he reversed the process, both girls, Kelly and Kate were found unharmed inside the machine.
The whole show was well balanced and well produced as was the entire day - plenty of magic, plenty of laughs, plenty of wonder and plenty of time to enjoy it all. Well done Bristol Society of Magic!
© Mandy Davis, May 2002