Tom Stone Lecture - Northern Magic Circle
Spa Complex, Scarborough
Reviewed by Allan Clarke
Every now and then a lecturer comes along who has
a profound effect on how you view magic. Tom Stone is one of these people.
Swedish born, Tom was one of a number of highlights at the Northern Magic
Convention in Scarborough last month. He has only lectured twice in the UK
before, once at the Sessions Convention in 2010 and prior to that at the
Macmillan International convention. Author of the highly respected work
'Vortex', he has a deep understanding of what many people call 'misdirection'
and his lecture dealt with this subject on a level I had not comprehended
He explained, with the aid of a mirror, how an individual, cannot perceive his own eye movements and went on to explain how the brain 'adjusts' memory to accommodate ' blank frames' created during this movement. Eyesight focus is very narrow as is colour perception during these key moments. Tom's premise was that it is in these areas that the magician works to create miracles. There was an element of beauty about his effects that clearly has taken years to perfect and understand. Using eye contact and communication tools to provide a momentary distraction that creates the 'vanish' or 'production' was a real joy to behold. He also explained a stronger concept, that of creating 'templates' in the mind that set a scene for a later effect. He illustrated this by effectively 'telling' the audience that his shoe would appear on the table at some point in the routine and yet, when it did, no-one spotted its arrival. In this respect, the audience fooled themselves and enjoyed every minute of it!
His coin transfers were a mastery of timing and the final vanish very cleverly constructed and I think that here lies the underlying feature of this lecture. It's the details of the performance that matter, small almost insignificant movements, phraseology and the creation of multiple points of interest all work towards creating a stunning effect. There were a lot of lighter moments too. It surprised me that for a native of what we might consider quite a conservative country, Tom was a very funny guy. Sometimes his 'translations' were funny but at other times, his subtle comments were very pointed, raising a few chuckles along the way but showing a much deeper understanding of the English language. From start to finish, Tom had a glint in his eye and a very natural way of handling his assistants even when roping them in for a gag. Along the way, we were treated to a wonderful Benson bowl routine (complete with appearing shoe), a strike vanish that caught a lot of people out, as well as some very clever use of a servant.
His Gala show performance was no less spectacular and certainly no less humorous. With the brilliant ‘A Toast for Charon’, an elegant coin production finishing with the surprising appearance of a full bottle of wine, through a ‘cod’ quiz and a fascinating rope routine, Tom showed that he is equally at home on stage as he is around the close-up table.
If I learnt anything, it was that magic does not necessarily have to be strong for it to be hugely mystifying. His credits were comprehensive, citing Slydini and Andy Nyman, who's techniques were something of a foundation for him. This was a very interesting discourse on presentation from someone who has spent a lot of time studying an effect and how it plays to his audience. We were very fortunate to have seen a Swedish master at work.
If you want to find out more about Tom go to: www.shop.tomstone.se
© Allan Clarke, April 2011.