Magicians from around the world descend for South Tyneside International Magic Festival

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Magicians from around the world will be honing their skills at a special event in South Tyneside this weekend.

The South Tyneside International Magic Festival (STIMF) Convention, organised by South Tyneside Council, returns from Friday, with three days of lectures, workshops and masterclasses at the Customs House, South Shields.

Among those sharing their expertise at the event, planned in partnership with magician John Archer, is the Magic Circle’s Close Up Magician of the Year 2015, Dr Will Houstoun.

Will, who specialises in close-up sleight-of-hand with a historical persuasion, recently completed a PhD in Victorian Magic and will be hosting both a lecture and a masterclass to share his secrets.

“While many are searching for what is new, they miss the fact that so much has already been created and written down,” he said. “I get most of my inspiration from old books of forgotten secrets, underpinned by an attempt to discover how and why things happen.”

Joining Will at the STIMF Convention 2016 is self-confessed nerd Andi Gladwin, who returns to host a new lecture by popular demand.

“The festival brings in some of the best magicians from around the world,” he said. “I put a comedy show on last year and did a lecture the year before that. This time I’m looking forward to sharing my magic again, as well as learning from the other people there.”

Among the other people Andi may have chance to learn from is proud old-school practitioner, Michael Vincent.

“My magic is pure, classical, sleight-of-hand” said Michael. “I get my inspiration from old books, not DVDs or YouTube and use cards, coins and borrowed objects to make magic occur in the natural flow of conversation.”

Michael, who is also an experienced photographer, lost his hearing two years ago and is making his STIMF debut in 2016.

“Even with no hearing I can still function as a magician,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to making a powerful contribution to the festival.”

Before Will, Andi and Michael take to the stage, the STIMF Convention will be opened by children’s entertainer, Paul Megram, perhaps better known as his alter ego Colonel Custard.

Paul, who was named British Children’s Entertainer National Champion 2014–2015 will be performing for delegates and leading a lecture based on his 10 years’ experience of entertaining younger audiences.

“While we never quite lose the fun, magic for adults does tend to be much more sophisticated,” he said. “For the kids it’s a bonkers mix of magical mayhem and I’m really looking forward to performing live.”

Other acts on the bill for the STIMF Convention include North East mind reader Ken Nedy, conjuring consultant Peter Clifford, American act Chad Long and Belgian man of mystery, Rafael.

Many of the artists, who will be hosting sessions throughout the weekend, are also taking to the stage as part of the festival’s International Gala Shows, which are open to the public on Friday March 11 and Saturday March 12.

Tickets for these events, which are open to all ages, are priced from £13 per person and available by contacting the Customs House Box Office on www.customshouse.co.uk or 0191 4541234.

Tickets for the festival’s three-day convention, designed more specifically for professional performers and magic enthusiasts, are priced at £65 each and available by contacting South Tyneside Council Events Officer Karri Prinn on 0191 4554031 or karri.prinn@southtyneside.gov.uk

Other highlights in the South Tyneside International Magic Festival 2016, supported by the Customs House and BBC Newcastle, include a Family Magic Extravaganza sponsored by specialist retailer, MagicBox on Wednesday March 9.

For more information and a full line-up visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/magicfestival