While the image of the magician as a dinner suit-wearing trickster with a rabbit in his hat has been overtaken by an edgier, more cerebral character, the magic world is still opting for a traditional location for their modern-day gathering of the UK’s illusionist elite.

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More than 500 card-manipulators and knife throwers will appear in a puff of smoke at the Britannia Pier in Great Yarmouth on September 28, as the International Brotherhood of Magicians (British Ring) Convention meets there for the first time since 1991.

Top magicians such as Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee and large-scale illusionist Andrew Van Buren will be joined by Sooty and Richard Cadell for two shows aimed at children and adults.

However, they will be keeping a lot up their sleeve, as the main aim of the convention is bring the magicians themselves together, to trade secrets and discuss magical developments. Illusionists, children’s entertainers, mentalists, close-up and stage magicians will be entertaining and teaching their fellow magicians throughout the convention.

The publicity officer for the International Brotherhood of Magicians British Ring, Geoffrey Newton, said: “We were very impressed with all the wonderful improvements that have been made to the seafront.

The International Brotherhood of Magicians

The parent body, The International Brotherhood of Magicians – founded in 1922 by Len Vintus, Gene Gordon and Don Rogers – is governed by elected officers and a board of trustees, with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, America.

It is the world’s largest organisation for magicians, with 15,000 members worldwide and 300 local groups, called Rings, in more than 73 countries.

The British Ring was founded in 1928 by Oswald Rae, and is the largest ring of the brotherhood with more than 1,000 members.

The British Ring keeps in touch with members through a monthly magazine called ‘The Budget’, which includes news of interest to members, reviews, advertisements from Magical Dealers, and tricks.

They meet once a year at the September convention where magicians from around the world gather to entertain and instruct.

“We are all looking forward to visiting this new and improved Yarmouth, it looks marvellous.

“Magic has changed a lot, it has become more edgy with people like Dynamo and David Blaine, but there is still a core of magicians that remember the end-of-the-pier days, and close-up table magic for parties, which people love, so where better then Great Yarmouth for our convention? A return trip was well overdue.”

The convention travels all over the country, and never goes to the same place for two years in a row. It was in Yarmouth in 1981 and 1991, this year it will be using the Britannia Pier, the Marina Centre and Hollywood Cinema for shows, trading, conferences and an internal competition in close-up and stage magic.

And in a tradition dating from 1955, members of the brotherhood give thanks to the area they visit by performing free shows in the community.

On Thursday, September 27 they will visit St George’s Infant and Nursery School, Greenacre Primary School, Salisbury Residential Care Home and Eversley Nursing Home.

Alan Carr, head of tourism at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: “There is going to be a real buzz in Great Yarmouth with the magicians taking over. We are delighted that they will be bringing magic into the community, giving those unable to attend public events a taste of the best of British magic.

“It is going to be a truly magical five days.”

The International President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, John Pye, will also be attending. Mr Pye is only the fourth British person to hold this role in the society’s 90-year history.

The British ring of the international brotherhood is the largest individual group within the brotherhood, which is based in America.

Brian Miller, president of the British ring, said: “There are thousands of magicians all over the country, working all the time.

“But it is not on TV so much, so people may not realise. While it is still interesting it will appeal to the public.

“We have always preferred seaside towns, it is a family few days, for the magicians who come and the public who see the shows.

“It is a lovely stage at the Britannia, it is great to see it still surviving. It is better to get bums on seats than TV viewers. Magic is an art form.

“I remember coming to Yarmouth as a child for the summer holidays, some people look on variety as old hat, but we still like to show there is room for it.”

To book tickets to the shows call the booking office on 01493 842209.

See www.magicconvention.co.uk

joe.wilkes@archant.co.uk

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