This year the Bristol Day of Magic took on a new team and a new venue. After fifty-five years, with several at Weston-Super-Mare, it looked as if the Day wasn’t going to happen until Paul Macleavy decided to continue the tradition. The old venue was no longer available so he hired a school in Nailsea, between Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare, which has some excellent facilities in its shiny new premises. Meals were available and a small dealer area was set up.
The event started with a lecture by Richard Griffin who spoke about cruising and covered several of the effects he uses in one of his two forty-five minute shows: the Nosey Volunteer, an ingenious Card through Hanky, a bottle top routine and a fascinating Matrix using a note pad and spots and the Torn and Restored poster that would appear in his performance in the Gala Show.
Then we saw Paul Stone, over from Las Vegas and ready to talk about his life as an Executive Producer of shows such as the two he had run at the London Palladium in honour of, firstly, Siegfried and Roy and, subsequently, John Calvert’s 100th birthday. He also talked about his friendship with Ken Brooke and his close association with Hans Moretti, both providing some great stories. In between Paul showed us his new close up version of Overboard, a utility prop based on a Ken Brooke one and a very useful tool for customised magic. He intrigued us with Mumbo Jumbo, a kind of appearing card, and also the Nemo Rising Cards which was another from Ken Brooke.
After lunch we met Inaki Zabaletta from Argentina, a funny and clever magician, whose accented English enhanced his quirky performances. He was introduced by Paul Ray, the British Ring IBM President who was to compere the Gala Show later that evening.
Inaki (pronounced Inyecki) started with two cards being selected and lost in the deck. He removed the Jokers which amazingly changed into the two selections and back again. His method for this was fascinating, using a principle from an old Spanish magician. He used the same method for his version of Out of This World, placing the cards in two tumblers for a more visible effect. His wine production, without a jacket, was simple but effective, based on that of Bob Read. Then it was back to his same card method for Cards Across which also utilised a false count from Derek Dingle and sounds to give the impression of cards passing from one person to the other.
His final trick was based on a Malini one which involved a chosen card being returned to the deck. A silk covered the cards and three slaps on the covered deck caused it to vanish, leaving only the selection.
All of Inaki’s work was done with great humour and had us laughing along with him from the start. We all looked forward greatly to seeing him perform both close up and stage later.
The junior workshop saw mostly familiar faces who had attended on previous years and they were delighted to see their first tutor was one of the local idols – and now a huge name – Kieron LeFever! The ten young guys (yes, sadly, all male) asked immediately to be taught regurgitation which was not going to happen – but Kieron did entertain them with a polo mint demonstration!
He then neatly sidetracked them to his Rubik’s cube work and they happily enjoyed learning some great ideas and methods as it was something they wanted to use in their repertoires.
Next up was stage magician Richard Griffin whose stage manipulations had everyone’s fingers and cards working overtime as he carefully taught some basic back palms and some more intricate vanishes and reappearances of split fans.
Finally we were delighted to have the return of Russell Levinson to the Bristol Day Junior Workshop – he taught a basic version of Out of This World and another very useful self-working card trick followed by the Elmsley Count with a couple of ways to use it effectively. Those who had learned this count before told me how pleased they were as they’d completely forgotten they knew it or how versatile it was!
The Close Up show was performed twice, once whilst we were at the Junior Workshop and again after it had ended. There were three performers.
Dave Bonsall, of Prop Dog started with Ring Flite and then vanished the ring once more, to be found in a sealed envelope in his wallet. He moved on with a very fast selected card section which included Card on Forehead and ended with the Omnideck. He closed with the vanish and appearance of sugar from a packet in various ways, such as loose sugar to sugar cube, with the packet ending up restored.
David Jones had lots of jokes to offer as he teased us with a silk and a thumb tip before executing a one handed shuffle of a deck of cards. He had ten cards chosen and found each one in different ways before sitting at a table to perform eloquently with a pile of coins, a leather cylinder and a piece of cork. His last trick saw theree people take small packets of cards off the deck, look at the bottom card and shuffle them, returning them to the deck. Dave was then able to name each of the first two chosen cards before naming every card in the third person’s hand and finally naming his chosen one.
Inaki Zabellate had cards named one at a time as he found them effortlessly and magically in the deck he held. Then two spectators chose cards which were ‘invisibly’ taken from the deck and reversed only to be found face up in the middle of the face down deck. Inaki spoke about cheating at card games. Four cards were then chosen from random places in the deck and all proved to be the Aces. He continued by shuffling the deck and dealing Aces as every fifth card. Finally he asked for a member of the audience to call out a poker hand, the cards he chose to make that and the position at the table of the person with that winning combination. Inaki was able to deal a Full House of fours and eights to the fourth player as requested.
Time for a last visit to the dealers, and a fish and chip supper from the caterers, then it was on with the Gala Show which proved to run a lot longer than expected.
Paul Ray cracked gags throughout his compere spots apart from his last appearance when he sung along to an old pop song with watery results! The first act was Megan Knowles-Bacon performing as a prima ballerina. We saw Appearing Cane, Drink in News where she turned water into wine, the appearance of a bouquet and a dancing cane, all done ‘en pointe’. Her Linking Ring routine was very beautifully done and a special feature of the act was a floating ballet shoe. She ended with Snowstorm in China.
Matt Pang is a street performer and spent a while building up the audience, getting them to give a mexican wave and applause before he caught his hat on his head when it was thrown to him by a spectator. He then went on to balance the hat on a cigar, held in his mouth, before some other balancing tricks. His final section was a long preparation towards his escape from a straight jacket while balanced on a unicycle.
Richard Griffin appeared as a very large clown! Everything he touched went wrong, including a torn and restored newspaper. The sad clown walked into a hoop of black material and lifted and dropped it around himself – for one of the fastest costume changes as Richard reappeared immaculately dressed and ready to continue.
He magically constructed a cocktail in a glass, everything appearing magically He removed his tie and the little paper umbrella appeared from it before the tie reappeared around his neck. A very fast Dancing Hank followed and then he perofrmed Cardographic followed by a Torn and Restored poster which he’d explained in his lecture earlier. His classic card manipulations were beautifully done and then he pushed a silk into a balloon before performing some rope magic which ended with a spray of confetti. There was some audience participation too as the spectator on the stage had a free choice of clown’s hat, bow tie and comedy nose – all of which matched Richard’s prediction. He ended the act by eating several coloured flat rings and some candy floss before bringing it all out of his mouth in a long string with the rings tied at intervals along it. He ended his act with a snowstorm.
Hulan from the Mongolian State Circus was refreshing as she is a contortionist who performed on a circular plinth. It was not an act anyone there was likely to copy as she molded her body into amazing fantasy shapes.
Paul Ray performed the Rich Marotta version of the Oswald Rae Hold Up trick before introducing funny man Mark James. I can honestly say that in the past I had seen Mark perform and not been impressed with him at all but this time I enjoyed every minute! Gone were the tired gags and now we had fresh material that offended no one – and surprises such as the appearing cane as he was talking which seemed to suprise him as much as the rest of us. He used silent movie cue cards to perform a version of the Invisible Deck and then did the Colour-Changing Hank. He took a photo of all the audience for his Facebook page and then had a card chosen from a borrowed deck in order to perform his own Sam Spade type patter before finding the card. He ended wth a spoof tie race, and then the juggling of plastic carrier bags plus, believe it or not, mouse trap juggling!
Inaki opened with something that continued throughout his act, Cards from Mouth. He did his aforementioned bottle production, and a gag with a coat hanger when removing his jacket, before producing another bottle for Drink in News which led into Torn and Restored Newspaper. This was all done to music but now the patter section started. Inaki then performed the Colour Changing Hank too – but this time every silk appearance was a different colour, ending with a whole line of silks. His Six Card Repeat was very different too as he dropped cards all the time but still ended up with six left in his hand. Five cards were now chosen for a blindfold Card Stab done on a board on a table. The cards were shuffle spread by a spectator before Inaki found every single one by stabbing a sharp knife into the table top. He ended with a newspaper that turned into a newsprint jacket and a final Cards from Mouth.
The last act of the night was White Magic – Michael White and his assistant, the contortionist Hulan who is now his fiancee. He started with a dancing cane and then Hulan returned with some more floor contortions. There was a section of appearing and multiplying CDs and then a large radio was vanished to beome some giant CDs – this was his award winning CD act from the recent past. Then it was onto the illusions – Hulan was produced from an empty cage, then climbed into a large red and white box that was dissected and had poles pushed through it before it was opened to show she had disappeared. After she was recovered, Michael walked through a solid steel plate and then balanced Hulan on three scimitars before removing two of them so she was suspended on one. . Hulan then performed an archery effect using her feet to pull the bow and shoot the arrow before she climbed into a very small glass tank and was vanished to appear in the doorway of the auditorium. Finally Michael climbed into a large open box on a stand and a curtain was held up by Hulan, before they magically changed places.
It was a full day and a shame that it ended almost an hour after schedule but we saw some great magic and wonder what’s in store for Bristol Day next year!
Photos and report by Mandy Davis