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The Vikings are coming

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 17:00

From the beginning of time the fascination with magic and the impossible has been widespread. Egypt was the cradle of magic. Sorcerer Priests used scientific principles to create illusions for the edification of worship and to hold power over the people. Where there was power there was magic. Then there is the age-old skill of sleight of hand, which proves that ‘the hand is quicker than the eye’. Magicians were known as ‘Jongleurs’ lest they by sentenced to death for ‘witchcraft and conjuration’ under the edicts of Henry V111. 

With the emergence of the Music Hall, Magic gained a new respectability and audiences flocked in there thousands to watch the extraordinary feats of The Great Illusionists. This gave birth to legendary tricks such as pulling a rabbit from a hat and sawing a lady in half. And if magicians guarded their secrets with their lives, how was the Magic Circle formed ? – Home to 10,000 secrets.
Even Today in our super technical age of ipods and broadband, the wonder and surprise of magic are as popular as ever, not forgetting the Harry Potter craze.  Wonder Workers and the Art of Illusion is a whistle stop tour of the history of mystery from 3000bc to the 21st century and be careful! – you might be amazed and bewitched. 
“…in which it is the very trickery that pleases me. But show me how the trick is done, 
and I have lost my interest therein.” 
 Seneca (3BC-65AD) 

60 second interview with our featured speaker Bertie Pearce

What first got you interested in magic?

Aged 5 I came downstairs one evening to see my mother being levitated 5 feet in the air. It seemed like a dream. In fact it was real. My mother inherited the illusion from her father who was a drawing room amateur conjurer of his day.

Your talks are always funny as well as fascinating – do you think humour plays a large role in your profession?

Humour is a gift from above. It relaxes the soul and is the most wonderful lubricant for any type of talk. It unifies the audience and helps people to remember the information. In Magic there is always the debate of whether the humour should come first or the illusion.  Sometimes one is sacrificed in favour of the other.

How do you go about linking magic to the arts?

Magic is an art form in itself and is the most immediate one in existence.  The live relationship between performer and audience makes illusion very powerful, not least because of the reaction of the audience. As well as this, artists throughout the ages have depicted this eccentric art form in one way or other.

Have any tricks ever gone wrong on stage?

Oh yes -  I'd always pay extra to see it go wrong, not least to watch the way a professional can turn the situation around or at least die on stage with honour. Magic is technically difficult and the possibility for disaster is always there. But this gives it an edge and excitement which is fun to watch. Of course many performers specialise in getting it wrong with the greatest example being  Tommy Cooper.

How difficult is it to get into the Magic Circle?

Joining the Magic Circle is  a cross between joining a golf club and taking a music exam. After being proposed and seconded you take an exam in front of a panel of magicians and are judged on different criteria. It's terrifying but a worthy badge of honour to be part of this famous organisation.

You’ve also done some ventriloquism – is this a difficult skill to learn, and do you still practice it?

Ventriloquism is a beautiful illusion. It gives the impression of creating life through another character. It is difficult to learn and even harder to present it in an entertaining fashion for any length of time. The beauty of it is seeing an audience forget that the ventriloquist is involved as they are captivated by the controlled character.

Any advice for aspiring magicians who might be tempted to give it a try?

You learn by doing. Perform as much as you can and always better to master one miracle than stagger through several