MAGIC is loved by people of all ages the world over.
For the last decade, magicians and illusionists of all kinds have flocked from around the world to the South Tyneside International Magic Festival.
Now in its 11th year, the week-long convention, which is held at the Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields, is still attracting big names in the profession and magic fans of all ages.
The festival, organised by South Tyneside Council and magician Martin Duffy, gives people the chance to see live performances from some of the world’s best entertainers, many of whom have never stepped onto the UK stage before.
It also showcases some of the best homegrown talent and has attracted more than 60,000 visitors since its launch in 2004.
American magician and trick and toy inventor Mark Setteducati is travelling from his native New York for the festival.
He said: “I’m very much looking forward to the festival. I’ve been to the UK many times before but never up that way, so I’m looking forward to spending time there.
“The organiser, Martin Duffy knew of me and invited me over to speak.
“I work in the creative side of magic, inventing tricks and toys too, so I’ll be giving a talk to other magicians about how I come up with my ideas and create things. Hopefully, someone will get some inspiration from what I tell them.
“The best magicians are always the ones that are most creative and come up with their own tricks or can put their own spin on existing tricks.”
He added: “These kind of conventions can be very inspiring and there’s always good people to watch and learn from.
“Magic is universal and it’s always changing.”
Young magician Edward Hilsum is also heading to the festival.
The 22-year-old, from Kent, will be performing tricks with his doves at one of the festival’s Gala Shows.
At the age of 18, Edward joined The Magic Circle, who immediately spotted his potential and sponsored him to develop his one-man show in Las Vegas.
He has since performed across the world and was asked to appear during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012.
He said: “I’m really excited for the festival. I’ve never been before, but I’ve heard a lot about it.
“It’s one of the big ones, so I’m really looking forward to being there.
“I’ve loved magic ever since I was eight years old.
“I saw an American magician on TV doing amazing tricks with doves and I knew that was what I wanted to do. I got my first doves and it all went from there.
“It is a classic type of magic, but I try to put my own twist on it and modernise it.”
He added: “These conventions are always a great way to meet up with friends and make new ones too.
“It’s always good to see what other people are up to and it helps bring you to a wider audience too.
“I’ve never been to the area before so I’m looking forward to visiting for the first time.”
Time-travelling Victorian duo Morgan and West are coming to the festival fresh from performances in American and Australia.
Rhys Morgan, who performs alongside Robert West, said: “It seems to have been a month of festivals for us. We’ve just done the Fringe Festival at Perth, in Australia too.
“We’re looking forward to the one in South Tyneside. We’re going to be performing at the Gala Shows and also giving a talk on our particular brand of mentalism.
“We haven’t really been professional magicians for that long. We were both teachers and weekends were filled with either gigging, catching up on sleep or catching up on marking.
“Our act has evolved a lot over the last three or four years and as far as I know, we’re the only time-travelling magicians out there.
“We started off as two guys in Victorian outfits and funny-looking beards, but now our characters really have their own voices, and we only perform in our characters and as each other.
“We really go for that shock reaction and we want to fool people, but we don’t mind if a few hours later they start thinking about how we did it.”
He added: “We’ve never been to the festival in South Tyneside before but we’ve heard a lot about it from magician John Archer, and we’re really looking forward to going.”
The South Tyneside International Magic Festival runs from Monday, March 10 to Sunday, March 16.
Three shows will take place at the Customs House.
A Family Magic Extravaganza kicks off at 6.30pm on Wednesday, March 12. Tickets cost £6.
Two International Gala Shows will run at 8pm on Friday, March 14 and Saturday, March 15. Tickets cost £13 with a £12 concession.
To book tickets for any of the shows, go to www.customshouse.co.uk or call the box office on 454 1234.
The Magic Convention is open exclusively to practicing magicians and the most dedicated magic fans.
Tickets cost £65. To inquire about attending, contact Karri Prinn at South Tyneside Council by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 424 7986.
More details can be found at www.southtynesidemagic.com
n See the Gazette next week for interviews with another trio of magicians heading to the festival.