We’ve done it again – sold out our magic show in a Cheltenham for the fourth year running. An Evening of Deception was an idea I had with Andi Gladwin and Paul Duggan in a pub a few years ago. We all wanted to see live magic near where we lived and went to see a show at a local theatre. Without naming names it was pretty terrible. A guy with a table full of tricks bumbling his way through them in no particular order in the name of entertainment. It was exactly what magic shouldn’t be. So, we hatched a plan.
I had a few contacts at The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham and pitched the idea for a show. We slotted into their Cabaret week and sold out our one night pretty quickly. It was great fun. In fact posts elsewhere on this this blog catalogue how the other shows ran.
This year we sold out again and I think it was our best year yet. The studio at the theatre only holds 42 seats which is great for stand up magic. Having performed an act for last year’s show I was looking forward to just compering this year but due to one of our performers having to pull out a couple of weeks before the show I had to come up with an act to fill the gap. We tried to find another magician but no one was available for all four nights. So I reached for the magic bookshelf once again and had a rummage.
As you may know, my magic collection, like many other hobbiests, is way too big. But having so many books means there are thousands of tricks and effects to choose from. It was actually great fun trying to find the tricks to do but I had to make sure they were straightforward enough to rehearse and get ready for the show in just 10 days. Add in to that a full time job to do as well! i plumped for Timeless by Liam Montier, Vino Aces by John Guestaferro and Heist from Andy Nyman.
Timeless is fantastic and I’ve been wanting to try it out for an audience for a long time. The same goes for Vino Aces. I first saw it performed by John at The Session convention. It’s a lovely and elegant update of a classic card effect, MacDonald’s Aces. I’m no card monkey and it does require some basic sleights which I’m more than capable of doing. However, doing in front of a live audience meant the nerves kicked in and the shaky hand syndrome struck. Nothing went wrong, but I’m sure many performers will empathise!
Heist by Andy Nyman is simply stunning. A routine where a spectator puts one of their own banknotes into one of four numbered envelopes. He doesn’t know which one. Then another spectator selects a random set of instructions telling him to shred three of the envelopes leaving just one – which contains the spectators banknote! The kicker is that the magician correctly predicted which envelope the money would be put in and which set of introduction would be chosen. It’s a fantastic routine that includes risk, tension, comedy and drama. I highly recommend it. The fun part was getting the props made up. It’s all routines around a gameshow format “Let’s Shred Some Cash!” I think I ordered enough different envelopes to open a stationery shop of my own! Again, magicians will know what I mean 🙂
So all in all the show went brilliantly well. If you’re a magician and have always wanted to put on a show then my advice is to go for it. There’s a real appetite for it amongst audiences and they consistently told us they were blown away and didn’t realise that seeing magic live was so good! I couldn’t agree more. If you are planning on putting on a show then I’m more than happy to offer some advice. We’ve learnt a lot along the way and are always trying to do things better.
Anyway, for the curious here are a few behind the scenes pics for you to have a look at.
I mentioned this in my last post, but this time The Session really is nearly here – just five days away in fact. For the first time in decades, an international magic convention is taking place in Cheltenham, the birthplace of the legendary victorian magician, JN Maskelyne.
For those of us interested in magic, the line-up is going to be difficult to top. My friend, and fabulous local magician, Andi Gladwin, has worked really hard with co-organiser, New York magician, Joshua Jay, to bring a fantastic line-up to the session.
Over the past few days I’ve been working on the event that I’m helping out with – interviewing Las Vegas magician, Chris Kenner. Chris is a major influence on magic today and will be here to pick up the Session’s Lifetime Achievement award. Not bad considering he’s not yet 50. He’s made major strides in shaping modern magic – starting as a close up and stand up magic comedian to now working as David Copperfield’s Executive Producer. He’s also supportive of young magicians – again shaping the future of magic. But he’s also blatantly outspoken about what is right and wrong with magic today, so expect a home truths.
Such is his influence, and the calibre of the other performers (I’m really looking forward to seeing Dani Daortiz from Spain as well as Penn and Teller Fool Us magician’s John Archer and Piff The Magic Dragon) that magicians are flying in from around the world to be in Cheltenham.
Anyway, back to the research…
It’s regular date in my calendar now and The Session is back in January. Organised by my good friend, and all round top magician, Andi Gladwin it’s a fantastic two day event and in 2012 will move to a new venue in Cheltenham. Closer to home. Nice. Magicians fly in from all over the world to be there – it’s a real chance to see the cream of the conjuring crop. Regular readers will know that last year I interviewed David Berglas at the Session for their lifetime achievement award. I’m more than pleased to say that I’ll be doing the same again for this year’s recipient, Chris Kenner. Chris is a major influence in magic today – notable for his incredible close-up work, he went on to become the Executive Producer for David Copperfield in Las Vegas. He’s also passionate about encouraging young people to get into and improve their magic. I’m really looking forward to finding out more about his life and views on magic. I’m reading as much as I can about his work at the moment and, even though I’m not a finger flicking sleight of hand artist, I know it’s going to a great event. See you there?
After all the build up I can’t believe that An Evening of Deception is over. We had a fantastic three days at The Everyman theatre in Cheltenham and thanks so much to all of you who came to see the show. It was a complete sell-out and I know the box office could have sold plenty more tickets. As I said in the show it meant so much to all of us involved that people spent real money to come and see magic live. Even with the resurgence of magic on TV you can’t beat the experience of seeing magic up close and personal. I spoke to many of the people who came to see the show and often they’d say that they hadn’t seen magic live before and they loved it! This was really important for me as my driving force for setting up the show was to put magic back in theatres. Not big illusion type stuff, that’s not for me, but more contemporary cabaret style magic.
Thanks must go to all of the people involved : Andi Gladwin, magic supremo, for not only booking all the acts but for doing a brand new act himself. His Rubiks Cube routine was one of the most talked about in the show. Rob James made the trip up from Bristol again to show off his classy style of stand-up magic. From Canada we had the unique Tyler Wilson (sorry to those of you on the last night who couldn’t get to see him) and finally the incredible Steve Faulkner. He’s an award winning street performer and deserves much success. His energy, comedy and ability is second to none and you must try and get to see him. He’s starting to put some magic nights on in Sheffield this year so look them up. Huge thanks to Paul Duggan who was our stage manager. He made everything run smoothly and kept us all calm. Maybe next time he’ll perform as well 🙂 Apart from the EoD team, we’re also grateful to Corin, the technical manager at The Everyman was fantastic and helped with all our little problems without complaining. Without him we couldn’t have done it.
As I mentioned in a previous post I performed Larry Becker’s Casino Royale. Thanks to Tyler we added a really great idea for the prediction – a postcard from my honeymoon in Vegas. A great idea that took a great effect and made it fantastic. If you ever need magic inspiration then track Tyler down.
Thanks also to all of the magicians who came to see the show as well. You were all well behaved – apart from a couple and this is where I want to moan. If you’re a magician and you come to see a show please don’t sit in the audience telling your friends/partner/pet rocky racoon how we are doing stuff DURING THE SHOW or even after it for that matter. It’s a magic show. Telling people how we do stuff no longer makes it magic. I love going to see magic shows and I love sitting there being ENTERTAINED. I do not want to tell people how stuff is done because IT SPOILS IT FOR THEM. Of course I discuss methods with fellow magicians but not with laypeople. Oh, and while I’m on the subject, even if you’re not a magician, and you get picked to help with a trick, why do some of you feel the need to try and screw it up for the performer on stage? Deliberately being cocky and unhelpful and trying to catch them out. Again you’ve come to a magic show to be ENTERTAINED. You get no sympathy from the rest of the audience. What’s the point of trying to make the performer look stupid on stage? They can cope with it, but wouldn’t it be better to see the act they’d rehearsed? AND…relax…..feel better now…
Thankfully 99% of the audience who came to the show didn’t fit the above category – thanks! You were all fantastic and made An Evening of Deception worthwhile. If you did come to see the show then please let us know what you thought by leaving a comment on this blog. All feedback is gratefully received and if anything didn’t work we can fix it for the next time. One thing is for sure – An Evening of Deception will be back!
Finally, here are a few photos that we took backstage and around the show. Some of the show, some backstage, some sneaky “what do magicians use in their dressing room” shots and some other random stuff. Hope you enjoy them.
Well, the Session is over for another year and what a weekend it was. It was the biggest and the busiest yet. Nearly 150 magicians from all over the world came to see the likes of Darwin Ortiz, Pit Hartling, Denis Behr, Ben Earl and Luke Jermay. Andi Gladwin and Josh Jay put together a fantastic weekend with some great lectures, talks and sessions. There were too many highlights to list but stand out performances from Denis Behr and Pit Hartling bring a sublime smile to my face. Their card handling is wonderful and looks like real magic. It takes years of practicing every day for hours to get that good and it showed. Excellent stuff. In fact, I recommend that you check out Denis Behr’s database here – an incredible resource if you’re in any way interested in magic.
There was, as you’ll have read on Tricktopia, one event at the session that I had a personal involvement in. It was the final event of the weekend on Sunday night – the interview with David Berglas. After many weeks of planning and meeting up with David it was great to finally get to the event. David was on top form – we talked about his start as a psychtherapist, the fact that his first magic convention was in Cheltenham in 1948 at the Cotswold Magical Society, a couple of his big publicity stunts, his theatrical work, his approach to magic and his friendship with Uri Gellar. We could have talked for several more hours – but we also wanted to hear about his card magic as his new book is out in April. David handles cards in a unique way so he talked about that and how he shapes his effects. The big surprise for everyone (only a few of us knew in advance) was that David performed some of his card magic. It was an incredible moment – with five volunteers on stage he found their merely thought of cards in incredible ways. Ever the showman, his patter was second to none and he had the audience in stitches. But the highlight was his performance of his legendary Berglas Effect – Any Card At Any Number. The picture below shows the moment the nervous spectator counted to his card. You could have heard a pin drop in the room – the tension was palpable. When he turned over his card the crowd roared and David received the first of two standing ovations!
After the event Andi and Josh presented David with the first ever Session Lifetime Achievement in Magic Award. Well deserved. All of us there knew that we had witnessed an historical event. At the age of 84, David still had the power to steal the show. An incredible end to an incredible weekend.
How do they top it next year?!