NGM Competition bw

I recently came across a few old photographs and press cuttings which my reader may find amusing.

This cutting is from the Nottingham Evening Post, circa 1960. Second from left is Ken Scholes, I believe, who wrote for Harry Stanley’s Unique Magic Studio and The Gen. I’m third from right, with hair. The guy in Chinese costume is Ron Massey and on the right is fellow Long Eaton Grammar School student Allan Falconer, now Director of Corporate Outreach and Professor of Geography at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, USA.

GC 2Creative magician Geraint Clarke is touring will present his new lecture Polymath on Thursday 2 July. His unique style of impromptu miracles using everything from borrowed phones, playing cards and even chewing gum has been widely praised, with some of his miracles being used by TV magicians all over the globe.

Polymath is a lecture packed with Geraint’s original take on impromptu magic for magicians or hobbyists of any skill level, and contains some exclusive new effects that are yet unpublished.  Chris Kenner has described his work as “Awesome” (a widely used term in North America which indicates praise and not to be confused with the standard dictionary definition); “…a creative rising star in magic” Daniel Madison; “…Great Stuff!” David Copperfield. “Magicians, take note! Geraint Clarke is very good!” Ben Hanlin.

The lecture is free to Sheffield Circle members and £10 to non members (junior magicians £5). It will begin at 7:30 pm at the Magic Lounge, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG. Doors open at 7:00 pm with our well-known alacrity..

How to Fest

Roger Curzon and I are scheduled to repeat our slightly acclaimed excursion into the rarely-trod byeways of magical history and performance for the experimental theatre company Slung Low in Leeds this Sunday from 3:30 p.m. I’m opening with an illustrated exploration of the curious history of magical invention, followed by Roger who will weave strange, magickal tales around the bizarre curios and artefacts discovered in his late, unlamented Uncle Albert’s suitcase.

This is a medium-sized but pertly formed part of Slung Low’s How-To… Festival 2: Magic & Showmanship. Sounds like it’ll be a great day out for some of the family. To quote their publicity: “Sunday 31 May is a day of performance, film, lecture and food from Myra Dubois, Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Russell Hall & Roger Curzon, Freddie Brook and Manjit’s Kitchen. And because it’s the How To… Festival  you can learn new skills in £paywhatyoudecide creative workshops though out the day; learn how to make the entertainment and the food. No experience necessary!”

The day starts tastily at 11:00 a.m. with Manjit’s Kitchen where she will demonstrate how to cook delicious vegetarian Indian dishes and curries, and you can then have a go at creating them yourselves – all ingredients and equipment are provided.

At 2:15 p.m. Freddie Brook plans to teach us how to Simply Amaze Our Friends in a workshop that will focus on “the performativity of magic and how to incorporate your own style into the tricks that you do.”

As I said, Roger and I will be strutting our various stuffs from 3:30 p.m., including a dab or two of performativity as the occasion demands.

Then at 5:00 p.m. Professor Vanessa Toulmin will take you on a filmic tour of Edwardian Leeds with live piano accompaniment presenting pioneering films of showmen Mitchell & Kenyon in Leeds. If you’ve not seen this presentation before, I highly recommend you catch it. Click here for more details.

There’s a break for dinner at 6:00 when you can enjoy delicious food from Manjit’s Kitchen and refreshments from the HUB’s £1 bar with free tea and coffee. Plus live music from Bianca Gerald before rounding off the day with a hilarious performance for grown ups from Myra DuboisAuntie Myra’s Fun Show is at 7:30pm.

I understand that there is a very limited capacity for all Festival workshops and performances so to reserve places please email boxoffice@slunglow.org with the number of places you wish to book for each event and a contact telephone number.

FESTIVAL SCHEDULE RECAP

11:00 Cooking with Manjit (recommended 14+)
2:15  How To… Simply Amaze Your Friends (recommended 11+)
3:30 Magical Inventions and Magickal Tales (recommended 11+)
5:00 Mitchell & Kenyon in Leeds (suitable for all)
6:00 Dinner and Live Music from Bianca Gerald
7:30 Auntie Myra’s Fun Show (Adult content 16+)

See you there!

All events take place at The HUB, 67-71 Bath Road, Holbeck, Leeds, LS11 9UA. There’s free on-street parking on Bath Road on Sundays.

What better meeting place for the purveyors of dark, magickal tales than Sneaton Castle situated on the wind-swept moors above Whitby, a town with plenty of darkly magickal connections itself. On Ashton Carter’s recommendation we stayed at the Number Seven Guest House, near the whalebone arch. The house was built in 1847 and in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, published in 1897, is mentioned as the home of Count Dracula’s lawyer.

I’d been hoping to attend this gathering of practitioners of magic’s more bizarre reaches since Roni Shachnaey first introduced the event. This year I made it. Doomsday VI was the first to be organised by Dan Baines of Lebanon Circle; he is to be congratulated! I’ve attended many conventions in the UK and across Europe and this has to go down as one of the most enjoyable.

We met for introductions and drinks early Friday evening after a somewhat protracted journey from Sheffield. The opening performance was guaranteed to put us in appropriate mood for the weekend: Doctor Diablo‘s Carnival Macabre — classic sideshow featuring “fire, nails, swords, pins, electrocution, escapes and many other dark delights”, plus guest contortionist and sword-swallower Bendini.

Saturday’s array of lectures, discussions and performances opened with Todd Landman’s Mystery Boxes, a real lesson in carefully-crafted story telling magic rooted in a deep understanding of the history and philosphy behind each tale.

Stuart Burrell followed with a discourse on The Dark Origins of Escapology, with demonstrations of ancient and modern devices of restraint. Stuart is a multiple world record holding escapologist and stamina strong man. He finished his piece by bending a heavy frying pan in half and rolling it into a curl.

In At the Heart of the Tale Prof BC revealed his aproach to ‘haunting investigations’, in which his role was as a facilitator working with a group of spectators in a way which got them truly involved in the development of the presentation and its resolution.

The morning concluded with the incomparable Voodoo Mick, The Singing Psychic, with musical revelations of thought-of songs. Thence to lunch in the castle refectory.

Lothar Malmberg, assisted by his daughter Grace, presented Echoes, which gave us a fascinating insight into Lothar’s approach to bizarre magic which aligned with his own religious beliefs — a gentle approach which eschewed the traditional tales of horror and darkness in favour of presentations which could be positive and thoughtful.

Ingeniously constructed first-class mentalism was at the core of Lars Ruth’s Arcanum Mentis — Secrets of the Mind.

To close the afternoon Oskar Hejll opened his Cabinet of Curiosities to fascinate and entertain us with his talk on the history and folklore of vampires and the ‘undead’.

On to the evening show, which opened with a classic performance by Master Bizarrist and godfather of Doomsday, Roni Shachnaey.

Nick Brunger had the unenviable task of following that, which he did with his richly textured Strange Tales from the Darker Side.

CSI Whitby? Tracy Wise’s Crime Scene Illusion brought together mentalism and crime investigation in a novel presentation which featured the enthusiastic involvement of Lounger Tony McMylor as the ‘murderer’.

I’d been primed beforehand to watch out for Brian Maxwell… his hilarious The Travelling Werewolf Show did not disappoint, from the opening werewolf song to the final manifestation of the lycanthrope itself!

Closing a memorable show was Iain J Mindwraith’s Glass-Walking demonstration which he took that extra scary step further by at one point being sandwiched between broken glass and a bed of nails with a hefty volunteer atop the lot. Afterwards he kindly offered to teach a few foolhardy spectators the correct technique of fractured glass perambulation. (I made it without a scratch.)

This bare description of the programmed events doesn’t really give the full flavour of Doomsday. The late-night discussions and unscheduled performances were fascinating, provocative and invaluable in stimulating our own thoughts and ideas. Difficult to single out one item with so much going on around me, but a definite highlight was watching the reaction to Jim Critchlow’s ‘one step beyond’ ACAAN which culminates with the thought-of card at the chosen number in a punched and laced deck, cased, sealed in plastic and wrapped in brown paper.

Next year we’re promised twin Northern and Southern Doomsdays. Put my name down for both!

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The first lecture of the 2015-16 syllabus is by Ravi Mayar on Thursday 7 May. Ravi is a well-respected international magician, hypnotist and pickpocket. Check out his website http://www.mayarmagic.com. There will be something for everyone and the evening promises to be a very interesting one.

The lecture is free to Sheffield Circle members and £10 to non members. It will begin at 7:30 pm at the Magic Lounge, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG. Doors open at 7:00 pm fairly promptly.

I had a call a few days ago from Cyril Walters‘ daughter to say that Cyril died on Monday 9 March, age 91.

Cyril was a popular Sheffield club entertainer, performing regularly into his early 80s. He was best known as a ventriloquist, working with his ‘partner’ Rusty and a talking Toby Jug. Walters was his stage name, his real name was Cyril Walter Hogg.

I understand that Cyril was a member of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians some years ago, and a good friend of Stan Leslie, but I’ve been unable to find any further information or photographs. If you can help with more details please contact me.

Cyril’s funeral service and cremation will be on Friday 20 March at Grenoside Crematorium North Chapel at 2.00pm. Family flowers only please, donations if desired for The Alzheimers Society may be sent to John Fairest Funeral Home, 10-56 Penistone Road North, Wadsley Bridge, Sheffield, S6 1LQ.

John CareyNext Thursday 5 March sees the welcome return of John Carey, internationally respected for his creativity and streamlined approach to sleight of hand magic. His five critically acclaimed DVDs have proven popular with magicians all over the world.

Those who attended John’s previous lecture will know that as well as being an all-round nice guy, his enthusiasm shines through his entertaining performances and clear explanations. I’m sure that everyone will leave the lecture having learned some powerful, practical, commercial magic.

John’s lecture is at The Magick Lounge on Thursday 5 March at 7:30. Doors open at 7:02. Admission is free for Sheffield Circle members, £10 for visiting magicians. Not to be missed!

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