The I.B.M. British Ring magic convention returned to Eastbourne on 7th -
10th September for a second year post-pandemic. A superbly sunny
convention this year with a packed schedule of lectures, shows, dealers
and competitions. This year the British Ring celebrated its 85th
convention! A milestone achieved with Oliver Tabor (pronounced TAY-BOR)
at the helm as President 2022-2023. I was excited for this year’s
convention because Oliver has a unique brand of creative magic and
showmanship which I expected would reflect in his chosen line-up for the
convention... and it did!
Many attendees arrived the night before on Wednesday 6th to enjoy some
pre-convention socialising at the ‘Stage Door’ bar. The bar, which is
perfectly sandwiched between the convention centre and Devonshire Park
Theatre, transforms into an unofficial meeting hub outside of the
scheduled programme for the magicians to socialise, grab a drink and
talk everything magic.
The convention officially opened on Thursday at the theatre. Swiftly
after this Griffin and Jones took to the stage with their Fringe show ‘A
Life Changing Magic Show’. Their show was packed with hilarity and high
energy, this double act won the British Ring 1st place trophy the
previous year and their show exemplified why!
What I enjoy about the British Ring as an organisation is that they
consider their members’ and convention attendee’s experiences. All of
those attending got given a free gift, a compilation book of magic
tricks published in past issues of the Key Ring magazine and a unique
I.B.M. branded coin. No extra fee!
The convention this year had many lectures and talks on a large variety
of subjects. There is truly something for everyone: hobbyists,
professionals, family entertainers, close-up workers, prop makers, show
makers etc. Lectures included Chris Congreave, Brian Lead and Joy
Spencer, John-Henry, Christian Grace, Griffin and Jones, Charlie Caper,
David Wood, JezO, Terry Herbert, Adrien Quillien and Chris Wood.
As there were so many wonderful lectures I will just mention a few of my
own highlights although all the talks and lectures were enjoyed by many.
To me the overriding ethos of this year’s lectures was creative magic,
show creation, make it yourself and finding your unique performance
John-Henry, from Sweden, on day 1 can be described as a wonderful
surprise of creative energy. He described how he designs tricks and
makes the gimmicks or props himself. He said “Magicians are like cover
bands” meaning that many of us do the same tricks but package them
differently, his approach was fresh and pushed ideas further than many
magicians would. He covered many areas in creating tricks including 3D
printing, utilising a variety of materials, reels, prototyping, finding
simple solutions etc. He also talked about the performance aspect saying
everyone should have directors for their show and playing with your
props is where discoveries are made. His lecture was sewn together with
humour throughout, he is a true eccentric and he embraces it. His humour
is best portrayed by these words: “Hot glue is hot, scissors are sharp.
Don’t put either in your mouth and run around.” - John-Henry.
Griffin and Jones lectured on their material as a double act. They
talked about their ‘5 golden rules’ for performance and how their show
implements these rules. They made it clear that the ‘rules’ are their
own opinion but they feel if every magician used the rules then their
shows could be elevated. The rules endorsed the idea that we should
always be evolving. There was a strong sense that Griffin and Jones
valued the audience experience including how they are treated as
volunteers. They had a clear idea of what makes a good show this
includes trimming the fat from your act and making an act that suits
your personality. What typically seems like a crazy slapdash performance
from the pair we discovered from their lecture they are in fact very
calculated and well-rehearsed. Their show as a final product is a credit
to their preparation as performers.
Charlie Caper on day 3 was a lecture I think many people looked forward
to. If you know his work, you know he is an act that cannot be missed.
Charlie doesn’t do many conventions so having an hour of him sharing his
thoughts on magic and performance was something special. He covered
street shows, and his career and gave some advice on show creation. A
major focus of his material is being true to your character. Being able
to describe yourself in 3 words means you have defined yourself as a
performer. He held similar beliefs to Griffin and Jones and said “Charm
lies in the shadows of perfection”...certainly lessons for us all!
On the same day, another highlight lecture for me was JezO. He has
infectious energy and enthusiasm in truckloads! Also, his set-up seems
to be truckloads! JezO does not hold back on putting in the maximum
effort he can for his shows. This was the main lesson to take from his
lecture “To be more!” for example instead of 1 broken wand, why not use
10! instead of 1 appearing cane, why not 10! instead of your energy
being at a 5, why not 10!
On the last day, we had a lecture called ‘Cocktails, Magic and Potions’
from Adrien Quillien. This for many attendees was a highlight of the
convention. After seeing his show-stopping Gala performance the night
before he revealed his thinking and show creation techniques in his
lecture. His lecture taught us how we can add an extra flare to our
magic with confetti, fire and atmosphere. Adrien has an endearing energy
and a clear love for what he does. He presented his lecture in a more
dramatic way than you would normally see which was very appealing to a
quieter tired day 4 convention audience. Following the themes of the
lectures from other days, Adrien touched upon creating props and
effects, particularly focussing on cocktails. I found watching this to
be quite motivating, particularly after hearing how he became a magician
and won several awards in recent years. If you don’t attend the full
convention you miss out on lectures like this one on the last day.
The convention caters for everyone with its selection of dealers. There
was general magic, card magic, bespoke items, balloon twisting supplies
and kids' magic all available to purchase.
The I.B.M. British Ring is host to some of the most prestigious magic
competitions in the UK. The highest available award for stage magic and
close-up magic in the UK can be won only at the British Ring. The stage
competition was held on the first day. 1st place went to Daan Ho. Daan
had unique and ambitious ideas layered throughout his act, using
colour-changing violins, appearing feathers and a jacket that magically
puts itself on the performer. He stood out as a clear 1st place winner
by trying something different to what we usually see in magic acts.
Whilst the judges deliberated we were entertained by the always-perfect
Mark James. Mark never fails to bring the energy up in a room, a true
master of variety entertainment. The Close-up competition was well
attended this year. The 1st place award went to Edward Hilsum. Edward
presented a flawless performance with an act that drew on feelings of
nostalgia. His effect with a photograph appearing in a frame was unique
following this was his beautifully elegant coin routine named ‘Silver’.
I highly encourage people to enter these competitions. It gives you a
goal to work towards and helps raise our standards as performers.
The shows are the thing I love most about conventions. We learn so much
just from watching other performers. The I.B.M. British Ring convention
gala show was packed with variety and a high standard of magic this
year. Our compère's for the evening were Keith Fields and Lady Sarah.
Two very funny and engaging hosts for the night. Opening the show was
Yollin Lee with his effortless-looking but highly skilled card
manipulations (trust me they were not easy to do!). Coming in fast as
the second act was John-Henry with his slapstick performance of magic,
juggling and physical comedy. Michael Jordan was third with a flawless
juggling and skills performance including plate spinning, juggling,
unicycling and balances. TV Star and magician Richard Cadell closed the
first half with large-scale danger escapology. The second half burst
into action with Adrien Quillien from France performing his cocktail
magic act. His act was an explosion of pure visual delight. Our
compère's then performed a funny magic segment after Adrien. Louise
Andrée from Fife followed with a variety of magic, a lovely act
specifically bespoke for the British Ring. Everything in her performance
was visually appealing and considered. Closing the show were the comedy
illusionists Safire. Big box illusions with plenty of giggles. A
fantastic evening of magic and variety.
Charlie Caper closed the convention on the 4th day with his solo fringe
show. His show started from the moment you entered the theatre as he
spoke to people coming in. His show was full of charm and jaw-dropping
magic. Charlie is an expert in misdirection, he would continually make
his bow-tie disappear and reappear throughout the show. In the middle,
he performed a routine with a robot he had made himself. The entire show
was magical, wrapped in mystery and engaging. I still don’t know where
the bow-tie went!
The convention closing ceremony began after Charlie’s show with some
words from the president Oliver Tabor. Oliver said, “The convention was
an amazing time, thanks to everyone for coming and he appreciates every
one of the members for their support”.The chain of office was handed
over to Philip Partridge who is now the president for 2023 – 2024. In
his closing words about this year's convention, he expressed how much he
enjoys attending. He is keen for more people to come along and get the
chance to enjoy the yearly convention he said “Next year, bring a
A glue that holds the British Ring convention together is Moira
Fletcher. Without Moira, the convention would not have the amazing
content that it does. She strives to make every year a special one. I
spoke to her and asked if she had anything she would like to share with
me for this article, she said simply “Your support helps the convention
grow, if you didn’t come you have missed out”. I agree, if you didn’t go
you have missed out.
What I love about the British Ring convention is that it isn’t
overwhelming like some of the largest conventions but it is by no means
small either. You can see world-class shows and lectures and not miss a
thing due to overlaps in schedule. I believe you get so much more than
the value of your entry fee. Conventions only get better with
attendance, I encourage you to go because you will absolutely get
something from it. I take that weekend off every year and I am willing
to travel over 9 hours to do so. Don’t miss out.
© Fraser Stokes, September 2023