The 9th British Close-up Magic Symposium
Bath University, Sunday 10th April 2005

Reported by Tony Griffith

Every two years Mark Leveridge hosts and organises The British Close Up Magic Symposium. This year's affair was the 9th such event and took place on Sunday 10th April 2005. Held at Bath University, it had the best possible viewing conditions. The near capacity audience seated in a tiered lecture theatre had the perfect view.

Delegates arriving from 9 a.m. onwards were served coffee and biscuits. The day's events commenced at 9.45 a.m. with the final event concluding at 9 p.m. During the day a hot Lunch and High Tea was served for those who had included this in their registration package.

Mark's life long friends were again to the fore. Chris Payne was co-organiser and MC, Chris's brother Mark was on lighting and sound while Stuart Bowie controlled the spot light. Mark's delightful wife Ros, was in charge of registration and general trouble shooter. Finally Bob and Pete Hamilton of The Magic Video Company were busy recording the day's events. The day ran like clockwork and all credit is due to the aforementioned people.

Housed in a separate nearby room were six dealers:- Boris Wild, Antonio Romero, Mark Leveridge, Peter Scarlett, Mark Mason and Paul Gordon. They seemed to be doing good business throughout.

This year there was an international flavour to the day with four overseas artistes booked. From Canada was Richard Sanders, from France Boris Wild and David Stone, with Antonio Romero from Spain completing the quartet. When watching them it is so easy to overlook the fact that for Boris, David and Antonio English is not their first language. The fact that all three were so fluent in English speaks volumes for our overseas cousins. How many of us could go to either Spain or France and perform in their native tongue? Surely it is about time that we English magicians got to grips with this language problem when we perform overseas, and go to the trouble of at least learning some or all of our patter in the appropriate language, and not rely on translators.

The day comprised of four lectures by Mark Leveridge, David Stone, Boris Wild and Richard Sanders. Interspersed were two gala shows. The first was an international one featuring Richard Sanders, Boris Wild and David Stone. The second one was by Mark Mason, Brian Glover and Antonio Romero.

I do not intend to detail the tricks that were performed. Suffice to say that there was an abundance of card and coin tricks, which of course you would expect when there is a gathering of close up magicians. All were very entertaining and of a very high standard.

I thought Mark Leveridge's lecture offered the most commercial and practical 'do able' material. All good solid stuff with the Leveridge cunning that one has come to expect. He even sneaked in a routine with an envelope. The lecture was laced with humour, and was very well explained and structured. But then you always get that from Mark. He's a true professional in everything he does. Mark has now been giving lectures for 25 years. Today's offering was aptly called CELEBRATION.

Boris Wild lived up to everything that I have heard about him. A delightful gentleman, he extolled the virtues of THE KISS COUNT, which could easily replace the overused Flustration Count. Boris demonstrated this with a variety of different sized cards, envelopes and even dominoes. Well known for his work on the Marked Deck he showed just how very effective this is, especially when combined with a memorised deck. The use of a lap top computer to explain the markings on the cards was a great touch.

David Stone was a performer with that lovely French charm one associates with our neighbours from across the channel. It is obvious that he would be a hit with the fairer sex when he performs commercially. Very very skilled, his charismatic personality soon had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. His bottle of wine production, with credit to Bob Read, was simply 'magic' and drew gasps from the audience. It is easy to see why he was such a hit at a recent FFFFs convention.

Richard Sanders scored well at a recent FISM convention. He has a relaxed likeable personality that makes him easy to watch and listen to. Some of his mannerisms at times reminded me of Daryl .......... the giggle, his "I'm a professional." Richard's handling of volunteers was a lesson to us all. I thought his rope routine was simply outstanding and very magical. It just flowed from beginning to end

Antonio Romero comes from the Ascanio school of magical thinking in Spain. Very adept in the use of sleeving and the reel. He performed some amazing visual effects which were demonstrated to full effect on his dealer stand. His cups and balls using clear glasses showed a lot of original thinking. Some of the appearances and vanishes of the coloured balls were extremely magical. A charming performer, who again like his European colleagues treated his assistants with the respect they deserve. How nice to see this.

Blackpool's Mark Mason has to be the best demonstrator in the UK since Ken Brooke. He is a worker and it shows. Just back from another visit to the USA, he was very entertaining and working simply with a pack of cards, Mark performed some amazing effects including one wherein a shuffled deck amazingly returned to its new deck order. Quite baffling.

Brian Glover from Manchester has been around the English magic scene for a long time and is one of the quiet knowledgeable men of magic. Seated at a table with a one spectator Brian gave a solid demonstration of very good card magic. Routines and effects flowed into each other. Probably suited to a more intimate gathering, nevertheless Brian's quiet personality came over on the larger arena and he was given a good ovation at the end of his performance.

This report cannot really do justice to what a really good day Mark gave us. Very much value for money with some really outstanding magic.

Roll on the next two years and Symposium Number 10. I can't wait.

Tony Griffith, April 2005