What a wonderful thing The Session convention is!
This is my second time and I loved every minute of it. The 2016 convention rang in a number of changes, the two main ones were a special Friday “Event” for mentalists curated by Luke Jermay and a move from the old venue in Cheltenham to the Thistle hotel next to Heathrow terminal 5. The number of attendees seemed larger, maybe 400, with folks from all round the world including the US, Canada, Norway, Germany, France and Dubai. I arrived on the Friday evening so I missed the special mentalism sessions which included a lecture by David Berglas.
The Saturday activities started with a set of five 15-20 minute lectures. The first three were by Tony Chang, Florian Severin and Justin Higham. All gave great ideas and advice and were available to discuss techniques and get mini tutorials throughout the weekend. The fourth lecture was by Darren Litten, actor and writer of Benidorm and the Catharine Tate Show, who gave us his 5-point plan for creativity. He also gave us the best put down in history if someone is giving you a hard time! The final talk was by Wolfgang Moser who explained the 4 phases of innovation that lead him to his FISM award winning “Any drink called for” kettle routine. The routine blew everyone away!
After lunch the Tom Stone lecture introduced us to a number of great routines but for me the stand out was his Factory Blank cards (which sold out immediately). Imagine showing a blank deck to the audience, getting a member on stage to select a card from the blank deck and then the magician writing on a white board the chosen card (say 9 hearts). Imagine the reaction of the audience moving from puzzlement about what seems to be a joke, because all the cards are blank, to amazement when the person on stage names the card that you have written on the white board that only the audience can see!
Richard Wiseman a magician who is better known as the Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at Hertfordshire University, then gave a great lecture on perception, which included the first public showing of his new YouTube video.
Pipo Villanueva the showed us his take on Kangaroo coins and Chop Cup followed by TED talk magician Helder Guimaraes. Helder’s opening card effect was excellent. Imagine spreading a red backed deck face down into an arc and asking a spectator to say where they would like to place a blue backed card (face unseen). The red cards are slowly flipped over to show that they are in new card order and, you guessed it, the blue backed card was the only missing card, which just happened to be in Helder’s pocket.
The evening was rounded off at 10:30 with “Never Mind the Buzzsaw” where two teams (Michael Weber, Andi Gladwin and Darren Litten) and (Rune Klan, Josh Jay, Richard Wiseman) battled it out to see who had the most magical knowledge… so much fun I can’t even remember who won (although Rune was taking the score!). Needless to say the much more informal part of The Session continued in the bar until “far too late o’clock”.
The first lecture of the day was Christian Schenk, owner of Card Shark, and the creator of the Phoenix Deck. Christian explained how cards are made, the difference between mass produced bikes and casino quality, and some of the cunning extras he has added to the Phoenix deck.
South American magician Luis Otero was up next and opened with a super trick where audience members put 4x £20 notes into a spread deck and low and behold they had all located the same numbered cards. Lots of very strong ideas so I bought his DVD/Notes package.
Spanish magician Gabi Pareras followed. The lecture was in Spanish and was translated by Pipo. This was the first time Gabi had lectured outside Spain. There were so many ideas and concepts that I am glad I picked up his lecture notes (which were specially written for The Session). One observation that Gabi made which stuck with me was “The spectator is not you mum, so don’t approach them and basically do a “look what I can do” effect”, you need to think how can you get the spectator to see the effect how you want them to”
The last lecture of the convention was by one of the giants of magic, Max Maven. I partially liked the ESP routine that finished his set on. Max also had special notes just for the convention.
To close the convention Danny Buckler hosted a Gala show starring Tom Stone, Ben Hanlin, Max Maven amongst others. What a great way to finish “The Session” – I learned so much and it was great discussing ideas, learning new moves and concepts and generally having your mind blown by the skill of those there. It was just brilliant watching folks like Keiron Johnson, Tom Crosbie, Henri White and Marc Lavelle talk about their ideas and there was one chap could memorize the sequence of black and red in a deck of cards, though I am not sure if I have quite recovered from Jasz Vegas hammering a long nail into her nose! At the same time, you have legends like Guy Hollingsworth, Andy Nyman, Roberto Giobbi, Rune Klan, and Marvin Berglas just attending the convention!
What else can I say, other than, I’ll be back!