74th British Ring IBM Convention
22nd - 26th September 2010, Eastbourne
Update 17, July 2010
Bob Hayden, British Ring PRO

From Eddie Dawes come details of the speakers and the subjects they will be discussing at this year’s History of Mystery session. For the 38th time the session has been arranged by Eddie and will be presented by him but moves to Friday afternoon after many years of occupying a Saturday afternoon slot.

The varied and interesting programme will include Peter Lane recalling the famous Westminster Royal Aquarium which from 1876 to 1906 occupied the site where the Central Methodist Hall now stands. Although initially intended to be a Central London rival to the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, with up-market attractions plus an aquarium, it never achieved that ambition and eventually became a place of popular and risqué entertainment where magicians, jugglers, acrobats and aerialists were to be seen – but very few fish!

Owen Clark (1877-1929) was a highly original magician and shadowgraphist who earlier in his career made such an impression that Maskelyne & Devant sent him out to the Antipodes in 1908 to head their Touring Company in Australia and New Zealand, and subsequently presented him with a medal to commemorate the tour. Over the years, Christopher Brinson has carried out diligent research on Clark, whose personality led to problems later in his career, and his biography of this enigmatic performer is currently in the press. Chris reports “I have made some exciting discoveries concerning Owen Clark. Some of the material is surprising, and some slightly controversial!” which, together with some of his remarkable inventions of the 1920s, will clearly make for a fascinating talk.

Where would magicians be without their assistants? Assistants come in many guises, some visible others not, some highly competent others less so. Paul Freeman says "I want to pay tribute to those lovely magicians' assistants that never fail to enchant audiences whenever they appear" and presents the results of his researches in which he identifies and then focuses on "The Iconic Magicians' Assistant".

The final presentation, “Hellis in Wonderland”, which is the title of Will Houstoun’s latest book, will be given by the author on Robert Hellis, the 19th-century magician and dealer who gave lessons to Professor Hoffmann and Dr Lynn. Will’s interesting research stems from a notebook in Peter Lane’s collection containing lessons written by Hellis and continued by an anonymous student, and leads to a study of Hellis’s life and his magic. At the Magic Collectors’ Association Weekend in Chicago in May, Will became the first recipient of the Edwin A Dawes Bursary Award for Magic Scholarship, instituted by Magicana and the MCA, with a cheque for $2000 to assist him with his forthcoming doctoral research on the cultural history of Professor Hoffmann and his impact on conjuring literature in the Literature, Film and Theatre Department at the University of Essex.

Eddie has once again arranged a thought provoking session to those anxious to learn more about the History of Mystery.

An event, the Ali Bongo Micro Magic Marathon introduced in 2008 into the Convention programme is proving popular for both contestants and spectators alike. This year it is again being co-ordinated by Viv Davies (Mysteeny). The number of competitors that can take part is determined by the size of the room in which it is held. This year it is in the Floral hall of the Winter garden complex which will have the tables set out in cabaret style. If you are interested in taking part as a performer contact Viv immediately on 029 2079 2789 or by e.mail: mysteeny@btinternet.com Here is an opportunity of showing off your prowness as an entertaining close-up worker as the winner is decided by the people who have been entertained and you take the title of table magician of the year plus a bottle of champagne.

Wednesday night is going to be extremely busy for Viv. Not only will he be overseeing that the M.M.M. runs smoothly he will be host to the cabaret that follows. Who will he be introducing? It is the terrific line-up of Charlie Frye & Co, Graham P Jolley and the comedy musical act of Pluck. All three of these acts have previously been profiled in Convention News but the name Viv Davies may be unfamiliar to you. He is of course well known in South Wales where he resides and many of you will have met Viv at previous British Ring Conventions as he has been a regular attendee with his wife Ros (family commitments permitting) since 1974.

It was the present of a David Nixon Magic Box that kindled Viv’s interest in magic. In the early days getting further information about magic was difficult to obtain, library books being one source. Making props described therein was a cost effective way of progressing his magical skills. As he got older his D.I.Y. skills improved and he found he was making all his props tables etc. By his late teens he was providing entertainment at Old Folk Homes and dayrooms in hospitals. Later by developing a magic cabaret act he was booked to perform at the likes of Church Dinners and W.I. functions.

In the 80’s he started entertaining at children’s parties, so successfully that by the end of that decade he decided it was time to become a fulltime professional magician. Viv is involved in all brands of magic from mentalism, children’s cabaret and close-up. As well as being a professional magician Viv also has a keen interest in his local theatre groups performing in musicals and Pantos, working backstage, giving technical support, building sets, making props and last Christmas making his debut as the director of a pantomime.

Viv Davies is now willing to help in the running of the British Ring with the varied experiences he has gained over the years.


Bob Hayden, British Ring PRO, July 2010. www.britishring.org.uk




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