The 3rd Commercial Close Up Forum
Sunday 14th October 2007
Reviewed by
David Hawkins

Last Sunday a small but select group of Close-Up enthusiasts gathered at the Peterborough Ramada Hotel for the 3rd Commercial Close-Up Forum. Organized by Mark Leveridge, this event had a similar aim to the first two events; to create an environment in which like minded people can learn and exchange information on all aspects of working close up for money. Accompanying Mark this year were Shaun McCree and Peter Wardell - all of whom are full time professional Close Up Performers, and all traveling long distances to attend.

The day kicked off with performances by Mark, Peter and Shaun - all three demonstrating routines from their own working repertoires and quickly demonstrating why they are at the very top of their profession. Mark performed some of his trademark routines, including his trademark ring and string / Flying Ring routine, and a unique coin box effect ideal for walkaround. Peter followed with some devastating card routines, Slydini Silks (including a watch steal) and non stop comedy (which, early on a Sunday morning was no mean feat!). Shaun was the last performer with several of the routines featured on his recent Mix and Mingle DVD including a lovely folded rising card effect and a commercial version of the Razor deck. Already the day was off to a cracking start with the anticipation of lots more to come.

One feature of this and previous events is that Mark ensures there is plenty of time between the formal sessions for chatting, informal sessioning and generally chilling out. I find this aspect really useful and gives a great opportunity for networking.

The second session was a talk on Corporate Magic by Peter Wardell. I found this absolutely fascinating - if you think Corporate Magic is just performing an Ambitious card routine with a company name mentioned a few times, think again; Peter has come up with a highly original and creative approach called Brand Magic which must be a first in this country, if not the world. Working with companies he develops magical presentations which represent the brand image of the company. It sounds confusing but Peter explained this extremely well and gave some examples to illustrate the concept. The information Peter delivered during this talk was top class and very thought provoking and inspiring. Peter is now one the top corporate performers in the country, and to divulge such valuable information was very generous. To get an insight into Peter's previous life as a street performer and how he has transformed into "a street magician in a suit" I would thoroughly recommend Peter's DVD set Crowdpullers.

Lunch followed, overlooking probably the biggest man-made lake I've ever seen (apparently it's a rowing course) and everyone took the opportunity to chat, make new friends and generally relax in the sunshine.

The first session of the afternoon was Mark Leveridge talking about walkaround magic. Once again this was an absolute goldmine of information with Mark describing in detail all the aspects and potential problems in performing in this type of situation. For anyone working commercially you are bound to be forced in performing in a walkaround situation sooner or later. Mark also had a number of his products available for sale - in particular his DVD the Art of Hopping Tables and book The Strolling Magician are both excellent and highly recommended.

Following Mark, and another short recess, was Shaun McCree talking about working at tables. Again this was a terrific lecture with lots of valuable advice on how to approach a table, what sort of material you should be looking for, how to deal with potential problems and so on. The combination of a great personality, gentle northern humour and devastating sleight of hand makes Shaun one of the top close up workers in the country.

The day concluded with a Discussion Forum, giving everyone the chance to ask questions and discuss aspects that may not have mentioned during the rest of the day. I found this absolutely fascinating, and a wide range of topics was covered. I'm sure I wasn't the only person that wished that this session could have gone on much longer.

The only disappointing aspect of the day was the relatively low number of people attending. I'm not sure if Mark is planning any future Forums or similar events but, if so, I'd urge anyone with an interest in performing close-up magic commercially to sign up straight away. Unique events like this can only continue with the support of you and I.

The 3rd Commercial Close-Up Forum was a highly enjoyable and fun day, excellent value for money and I'm sure everyone would agree we all came away refreshed, inspired and motivated to work harder on earning money from our magic.

David Hawkins, October 2007.