Etienne Pradier LectureA packed club room greeted the lecture by Etienne who was a member of the SMC some 18 -20 years ago. (Older members may remember him!)
The lecture consisted mainly of items that Etienne uses on a daily basis and according to his lecture notes he is extremely busy with Private Parties and other engagements. He packed a lot of Magic into his lecture and If I described everything he demonstrated and explained this article would be extremely long. I will list all that I can remember with some brief notes. Etienne started with a 4 Ace Production leading on to an Ambitious Card routine which finished up with all the cards being blank, the highlight for me being a very clever and deceptive card switch using his watch strap. There followed a variation of the two ace trick as made famous by David Blaine (or Paul Gordon?) with a clever ending producing Cards adding up to the seventeen of clubs as verbally forced on the spectator.
Next were some short comedy items including bending a fork, apparently cracking a spectators finger and finally a broken and restored wine glass. I was particularly impressed by Etienne’s use of misdirection when two cards appeared under a glass whilst all the attention was drawn to the pack in his other hand. Again the same use of misdirection was used in the Coins across Routine when he then stole a watch.
Ring Flight was next, an item that a lot of Magicians use and also one that a lot of Magicians are very wary of using, Etienne had a holder on his belt which seemed to solve a lot of the problems about rings disappearing or stones falling out. However he did offer the comment that if something goes wrong - be professional about it ,offer your business card and promise that they will be fully recompensed. He also presented his ideas about ’looping’ effects together. Ring flight ’looped’ with a watch steal was demonstrated as a ’package’.
Finally he showed us his Ring on String effect and talked of a very strong moment which was achieved by getting the ring back to its owner before the final reveal, totally
fooling the watching audience. This was followed by a short demonstration of a bulldog clip which he had for sale. Any mentalists in the audience would immediately recognise this as an ’Austin Clip’. He had several sets of lecture notes for sale which did a roaring trade.
I thoroughly enjoyed Etienne’s lecture but felt that the explanations could have had a bit more ’ depth’. All in all a good night was had by all present.
Pete Wardall LectureWe’ll start our notes as Pete started his lecture, by diving straight into the Cups & Balls. In my ignorance I didn’t know this was Pete’s trademark routine, but with good reason. The routine was fast and furious with non-stop banter and some really nice touches.
As Pete himself commented, very few of the audience are likely to make their living from performing magic on the street. However, as he talked us through the development of his routines and the thinking behind them, there were lessons for each one of us, regardless of our performance area.
The Cups & Balls routine was essentially the Dai Vernon one, but heavily influenced by Gazzo and Cellini and their ’street’ attitude. He also attributed various moves in the opening sequence to Michael Ammar. Pete has been doing this routine for 12 years on the street and it showed.
We were taken right through the routine in detail and the thinking behind particular props (he heavily plugged Gary Animal’s cups and other props) was well explained. It was a good reminder that lay-people don’t notice things which we may think are very obvious - like large bags attached to our waist! Pete’s discussion of misdirection - and especially things like covering noise with a good gag or a laugh was really helpful. His discussion of ’crowd drawing’ was likewise useful. And many of the principles of routining so that you refer forwards and backwards within the show could be applied to any show.
For those of us who had never actually seen it before (I am probably demonstrating my ignorance here) the Flip Stick vanish looked very magical. Pete explored the psychology of making a noise to indicate the ’magic’ is happening and sell the effect (based on an idea from John Carney in Secrets).
There was a lot of instruction about the problem of ’too much magic’. What the audience really want is performance - and that doesn’t necessarily mean non-stop magic. Sometimes we also need to help the audience when there is lots of magic going on. So he would introduce the Cups with the line "keep your eye on the little white balls".
He also presented his ’one cup’ routine and explored the difference of performing on the street and in a corporate context and discussed the different issues of angles and alternative approaches to misdirection in these settings. Very practical.
After tea (yes we took an hour on the cups and balls!) Pete rushed through a number of different effects and their thinking. He praised the Slydini Silks routine and took us through the basics of a 3 phase routine (recommending Fulves or Gibson as the reference works for this classic of
magic, or Charlie Edwards in Routined Manipulation Finale). He told a hilarious anecdote about a Romanian body-builder who managed to break his silks at a Trade Show - so watch who you ask to help!
One of the great things about the Slydini Silks is the opportunity it presents to make any number of different ’steals’. Pete took us through watch, wallet and pen steals and even shared thoughts on a tie steal - but you need a lot of front for that.
We then explored some card ideas, and in particular looked at this business of routining a show to maintain people’s interest. On the street, when a trick finishes, that is an excuse for people to move on. And that is the last thing you want them to do. So by flagging up tricks which are to appear later, and not allowing too much time after a ’climax’ but moving straight into the next thing, you can really hold on to people.
Pete demonstrated Ambitious Card linking into Ring Flight, with an extra climax of the ring appearing in the wallet (after the card has done so) - a wonderful example of clever and entertaining routinging. He also showed us a way of setting up the cards for McDonalds Aces by cutting to the aces and
then performing a ’Triumph’ style mix up and resolution - very neat. He also showed us a really nice card to wallet steal - the "cheeky steal".
We had an excellent evening and learnt a lot about the performance of magic. Perhaps above all he urged us to learn a few tricks and then to perform them - rather than to ’do a lot of magic’. If its good enough for David Devant (see the preface to The Royal Road!) then its good enough for us too.
Tri-Wizard TournamentThere was a palpable buzz in the air before the inaugural Tri-Wizard Tournament. Members of the ‘Sussex’ arrived in their usual ways; some came on the Knight Bus, others by Floo Powder. The younger members flew energetically in on their Firebolts and Nimbus’s, while some of the older members chose to apparate in.
It was however, our guests who caused the biggest stir; the ACES arrived on a ship arising out of a nearby mirage and the Southdown members arrived in a horse-drawn carriage pulled through the air by a dozen palominos…
When the wand waving and spell casting began there were three categories: ‘Dark Arts’, ‘Spells’ and ‘Wands’.
Mike Elvin kicked off the evening by shouting… a lot! He had an interestingly scripted introduction about witch hunting which led to a cleverly presented ‘sword through neck’ illusion. He finished with a ‘witch’ escaping from a hangman’s noose.
Alan Hatcher, with his usual style and clever presentational hook performed the ‘Seven Keys to Baldpate’.
Ross and Guy performed the squeamishly realistic ‘needle through arm’ illusion.
Martin Lewis performed a routine with three coloured ribbons which was accompanied by a story and plenty of ‘acting’. The image of Paul Leacy with big ears, wizard’s hat and cape will live long in the memory.
Professor Paul Bromley had a very inventive routine especially created for this one-off performance. He remained silent throughout and performed a simple ‘Cards Across’ routine. He interpreted the theme in a clever and unique fashion, and had an amusing and well routined act.
Philip Sweeting successfully predicted a freely chosen ‘spell’ and had a clever and apt presentation based around preparing for ‘quidditch’ for ‘Newton’s Nightmare’. He finished with a beautifully performed booktest which even fooled some knowledgeable magicians in the audience.
Peter Bennett presented a nice set with polished patter and gags. He performed a wand routine, a ‘No Tear Newspaper Restoration’, the ‘Unequal Ropes’ and a ‘Cut & Restored Ropes’ routine.
Wearing tights and a fake bottom, amidst farcical comedy and tremendous applause; Len Angel performed his ‘Zig Zag Tortoise’ … Nuff said!!!
Stuart Harley used three different spells to create three different effects. “Alohomora” caused a lock to open, “Ferveo” caused some water to evaporate and the Unforgivable Curse “Avada Kedavra” caused a glass to shatter.
The competition was conceived with the spirit of fun and integration in mind, and, it was surely a resounding success. Each act contributed towards a very memorable evening which ended with all the performers on stage receiving certificates and the Presidents from each club accepting awards.
Much praise and thanks must be heaped upon Stuart Harley. It was he who originally had the vision for this innovative event and it was he who largely implemented it. (He also hosted the evening AND performed a well constructed routine on the night.)
Well done Stuart. Due to the evening’s huge success, the Tri-Wizard Tournament will surely become a regular fixture for years to come.
Club NightJonathan was selling cards!
Paul Leacy demonstrated a couple of ‘coin moves’, a coin roll and vanish and an innovative ‘Han Ping Chien’ move in the hands, which generated some discussion.
John Schofield was performing a nice ‘Colour Changing Deck’ routine and chatting with Sylvia and Andrew about magic and life…
Giles was chatting to John Southgate, enjoying amusing anecdotes and gleaning pearls of wisdom.
Ali, Matt W and Reg were having a session before joining John Southgate, John Schofield and Giles for some card routines.
Andrew was having some interesting chats with some of the guys; magical philosophical meanderings, mainly. He was talking with Stuart and Paul L, and to Matt P about his close-up set and a few tricks he is working on.
AJ, GC & MP
Card CompetitionI was sitting back and enjoying the performances and not making notes. The review is therefore only as accurate as my memory allows! And tonight, more than usual, there were several repetitions and similarities between the effects performed.
Geoff Hunt performed a routine I hadn’t seen before. I guess you could call it a ‘Colour Changing Deck’ routine, only it was the faces of the cards which changed colour. This led naturally into an ‘Oil & Water’ routine, culminating in the whole deck separating into ‘reds and blacks’. Apparently black cards are heavier than red cards! Who would have thought it?
I really like the way Rosman begins his acts. He seems quite comfortable just chatting and connecting with his audience before getting on with the magic in hand. Memorably, he performed Daniel Garcia’s ‘Torn’. In my opinion, this is one of the most wonderful and visual pieces of card magic ever created and Rosman certainly did it justice, performing it beautifully. He also performed ‘Easy Ace Estimation’, ‘Phoenix’ and a variation of Jay Sankey’s ‘Paper Clipped’.
Mike Pettit performed a ‘Three Card Monte’ routine and a really clean ‘Coincidence’ effect ending with a deck full of blank cards. He finished with a complicated looking ‘Ace Assembly’ with a ‘royal flush’ kicker! If memory serves me correctly, Mike attempted this during last year’s competition but something went wrong. It was worth the wait Mike!
Ryan is an intriguing, funny and offbeat character and he has a unique and different performing style. He walked on stage with his jacket over his head and scotch tape over his mouth and performed Jon Allen’s ‘Silent Treatment’. His audience management however, could do with a bit of work. He then performed a routine mid-way up the aisle with his back to at least a third of the audience. Some of us were baying for his blood and we duly got it. He swallowed several razor blades before cutting his tongue, bleeding all over his arm and revealing a previously selected card. His final trick ended with a large hole through the centre of the deck.
Ali Ceurvorst has been an alcoholic for four years, spent ten years of his life in Japan and learnt the ‘Three Card Monte’ on the streets of New York! Something just doesn’t add up here. Still, his magic is strong and he showed some good skills with cards in hand – relying more on technique tonight than mathematics! Amongst other routines, he performed a ‘Four Ace Production’ and the ‘Ambitious Card’ – the card ending up in his pocket, folded in quarters and ‘stapled’.
I don’t immediately recall what Matt Parr did – and I mean this as a compliment. What I do remember is him - his presentation. I remember his energy and the feeling of his act. It was uplifting and exciting.
I now remember the music (more upbeat this time, and maybe more in line with his performing style?) and the manipulation - which was for the large part immaculate. I am recalling Matt performing a very clean ‘Rising Card’, a card’s name etched on his arm and a series of ‘Transpositions’, ‘Vanishes’ and ‘Appearances’.
Matt’s magic is always unique, and his presentations often bold, and tonight it all seemed to fit together. Anyway, Matt won the competition and deservedly so!
GilesCompiled by: Gordon Burtenshaw