Associated Wizards of the South One Day Convention
Sunday 5th March 2006
Reviewed by Marc Dominic

On Sunday 5th March the biennial convention of the Associated Wizards of the South was held on the edge of the New Forest, near Southampton.

The setting was a pleasant community centre with a large hall that comfortably accommodated the eleven dealers who attended and was also used for the evening show. There were also two smaller halls that were used for the lectures and close-up demonstrations. The lectures were repeated in each room so all attendees got the chance to see them in a small intimate setting. With four lectures, a close-up demonstration and a gala show it was a packed day.

AWS president Ian Marriott welcomed people before the convention was opened formally by the guests of honour, President of the Magic Circle Alan Shaxon and his wife Anne.

The lectures were as follows.

Sean Carpenter, former IBM and British Magical Close Up Champion, with years of experience on the cruise ships, presented his lecture on general magic including items from his cabaret act. This was full of good information of use to any performer and was well received.

Ron Popple, UK Children’s Entertainer of the Year 2002, presented his lecture on children’s magic. This fast paced lecture dealt with many standard effects such as magic painting and was crammed full of useful tips and bits of business.

Mike Stokes (Playtime Balloons) is probably one of the best balloon modellers in the UK and his workshop was a master class in practical and impressive balloon models with everyone making a special bunch of flowers. It is no wonder that Mike is in demand for his private and group modelling lessons.

Mark Mason is a prolific and original magical thinker and his company JB Magic, markets a wide array of Mark’s practical ideas and routines. His lecture could only touch on the vast array of his skills and effects but was nevertheless appreciated by all.

An entertaining close-up show was provided by a selection of AWS members including Rob Bone, Marc Dominic, Peter Killworth, Gavin Marriott, Harold Straker and Phil Wedgbrow.

With an impressive line up the evening gala show provided great entertainment for the 150 strong audience. This show was well supported by many locals and families and friends of the AWS.


Compere Marc Dominic kept things moving, providing interludes with bits of magic and a nice vent spot featuring Desmond the Dragon.

Alec Powell got the show off to a good start with his act as known. With his dry humour and visual comedy and magic, including topical bird flu gags and his speed camera, he kept the audience laughing and concluded by sawing in half a member of the audience who just happened to be the president’s daughter.

AWS member Laurie Brokenshire performed a selection of classic magical effects including sidewalk shuffle and a nice Gozinta box routine which concluded with an impressive production of silks and flags. It was good traditional magic performed well.

Sean Carpenter is a seasoned cabaret performer, used to working for varied audiences and it showed as he rattled through lots fun filled routines that engaged the audience. His finale of Bottle /Glass was very well received by an appreciative audience.

Ron Popple has a very quirky Black Country sense of humour and his unique style was appreciated by both magicians and lay people alike. His spot included the elusive Trevor and a mind reading duck, along with lots of visual gags.

Van Buren and Company promised something special and they certainly delivered with a wonderful mixture of stage illusions, magic and circus skills. After the impressive illusions using two glamorous assistants, Andrew showed his circus skills juggling whilst riding a unicycle and his plate spinning finale brought gasps and cheers from the audience, providing a great finish to the day. Surely acts of this quality make a strong case for the return of true variety to the television screen.

It was a very enjoyable friendly convention, the only disappointment being the lower than usual number of registrants, especially in view of the high quality lecturers and performers.


© Marc Dominic, March 2006