10 June 2008

Convention Catch Up

There’s a lot to catch up on, so let’s start with the Magic Conventions. The start of April saw me in Scarborough to lecture at the Northern Magic Circle’s “Spring Parade”. A small convention, about the same size as the Scottish SAMS Convention, but very, very friendly. There were a lot of familiar faces there from my other trips to Conventions in England and it was good to be able to catch up with people I don’t usually get to see too often.

Me lecturing at the Northern Magic Circle's Spring Parade
(Photo courtesy of Walt Lees)

My lecture was the first thing in the programme, after the Official Opening, and it was well attended by a fairly enthusiastic crowd. After my lecture, I had been asked to judge the Close Up Competition – never an easy task, especially if you are friends with one or more of the performers! Overall, it was a pretty decent show with some strong magic. In the end, it was judged by that Alex Moffat had won the competition with Steve Gore second and Alan Duncan third.

The rest of the time was spent hanging out and enjoying myself. I checked out the new Riley's American Pool and Snooker Club there, and was very impressed by it. Since it was Grand National weekend, I popped into the local betting shop and put some money on a couple of horses, and one of them won it! I had £2 each-way on “Comply Or Die” at odds of 9-1 and I walked away with about £24 (brilliant stuff!). I also need to mention the guys from "Burning Card Magic" which is a relatively new company specialising in Close Up. They might be worth checking out.

Let’s fast-forward to the start of May for the 58th Annual Convention of The Irish Ring - Ring 85 – of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (aka The Irish Magic Convention). This Convention is always a lot of fun and this year was no different. There were lectures and performances from, amongst others, Joshua Jay, Alan Shaxon, Trevor Lewis, Jack Wise and Quentin Reynolds. Friday gave me a chance to go walkabout around Dublin city centre for a few hours, something I had not done for some 6 years! It looks as fascinating now as it did then, but then that’s why I like being in a different city from time-to-time.

As for the Convention itself, it was the usual laid-back Irish affair - any more laid back and it's horizontal! Most Conventions are just an excuse to get together and hang out with friends that you don't get to see too often and this one was no different.

The Friday evening saw lectures by Trevor Lewis and Keith Bennet, as well as what was billed as a show by Joshua Jay. This ended up being a show come lecture come workshop that had nearly everybody in the room following Josh's lead as he took them through the finer points of a couple of his effects.

I had to miss Tony Sadari's lecture on the Saturday morning as I was performing in the Close Up Show that afternoon and did not have an act! The Close Up Show was, from what I saw of it, excellent with highlight after highlight - Jack Wise brilliantly opening the show, Alan Shaxon proving that he can do any form of magic asked for, Keith Bennet's brilliant gag about a ghost in a box, sing-a-long-a-Quentin Reynolds' "5 Minutes With A Pocket Handkerchief" and Joshua Jay stealing the show again (I'm starting to dislike this kid - he's too damn talented for his own good!). Heck, even I was happy with my performance! That just shows how much fun everyone - performers and audience - were having.

One of my favourite parts of the Irish Convention is the Banquet. It means one less meal to worry about buying! (typical Scotsman, eh?!) Traditionally, this is the point in time when the Irish IBM Ring hold their stage competition but, sadly, there were not enough performers for this to take place. In place of the Competition, this year's post-banquet entertainment was a genuine highlight for me. I have known Quentin Reynolds for a good number of years but have hardly ever seen him perform. Quentin owned the Saturday night of the Convention as he presented his "Psychic Game Show". About an hour (I'm not too sure as the time went so quickly) of well presented, well performed and well received Mentalism that had a room full of magicians scratching their heads (I was too as he caught me on several occasions).

Quentin Reynolds during his Psycic Game Show

The Sunday morning saw Josh Jay present his formal lecture. The lecture itself was brilliant with everyone finding stuff they could learn and use. The most impressive thing about the lecture was that Josh was able to present it at all. You see, a group of the "young ones" at the Convention (that makes me sound REALLY old!), including Josh, made their way to the Nightclub that is part of the hotel after the previous night's banquet was over. (please note that I decided not to join them for 3 reasons - first, I HATE dance music, second I was in my kilt and didn't want to go into an Irish Nightclub in a kilt and third I HATE dance music! Now, I realise that the first and third are technically the same but it is so important that it had to be said twice.) According to all reports, they came back to the hotel and got the guitars out for a sing-song session that lasted until around 5am.

Joshua Jay presenting his lecture in Dublin

Josh's lecture was scheduled for 11:15am and not long before 11am, a somewhat hungover and extremely tired young American magician arrived in the room where he was going to lecture. Josh proceeded to charm, baffle and entertain everyone that was there to see his lecture. He earned a well-deserved, and rare, standing ovation from the Irish audience. For me, the next event I attended was Max Marshall's lecture, which he had entitled "Silent Patter". This was excellent and I highly recommend it to all.

Max Marshall presenting his "Silent Patter" lecture

Not your typical "sit down and watch" style of lecture, Max had us meditating, playing hand slapping games with each other and trying out examples of non-verbal communication that, in my eyes, took this from being simply a lecture to a workshop where we could all participate, and where those that chose to (most of the room in this case!) got at least one or 2 things from the talk.

The Irish Convention Gala Show is always a highlight, which is helped a great deal by, in my opinion, one of the best Gala Show Comperes I have seen - Aonghus McNally. Aonghus is a TV and radio personality and radio producer for RTE in Ireland who is also pretty handy with a guitar. As ever, there were more gags and stories than I could remember (I really need to remember a notepad next time I'm there!) and a couple of songs thrown in for good measure.

Convention Organiser Nevin Cody (left) and Gala Show Compere
Aonghus McNally
give us a song during the Gala Show

Pat Fallon opened the Gala Show with his excellent dove act and closed with a couple of well-presented illusions. Alan Shaxon fooled me - again! - with his Human Gasometer and Airial Fishing and Max Marshall, in the guise of Congo, caused mayhem with members of the audience. Max's lecture earlier in the day were able to see the theories that he had explained to us put into practice. Great fun!

Max Marshall as Congo during the Irish Convention Gala Show

Typically after the Gala Show, everyone gathers in the bar to chat the night away and this year was no different. One group of people were exchanging stories of times gone by, another were sharing tricks and techniques they had learned over the weekend. As always, the sad part came when people started saying their goodbyes and went to bed. That is generally the point when I realise that I need to back to reality.

A couple of pictures from late on the Sunday
night - drinks, coversations and card tricks

It was a great weekend. Lots of great magic, lots of fun and loads of chances to catch up with friends that I had not seen in quite some time.

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

1 comment:

Ethan said...

Sounds like you had lots of fun. Have a great day!

-Ethan
http://www.themagicvideodepot.com

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