Monday, September 25, 2006

Audition for Edinburgh Magic Circle

It had been raining all day.

Me and my Magic Books had cuddled up on the bed and cards, coins, and ropes could be found all over my room. Tonight was AUDITION for the Edinburgh Magic Circle.

History of the Edinburgh Magic Circle, courtesy Richard Phillips

A long history of magical performing exists here in Edinburgh.

Professor John Henry Anderson, The Wizard of the North, one of Scotland's greatest ever magicians, performed here in the late nineteenth century. The original 'Wizard of the North' was the writer Sir Walter Scott. The title was later, and more fittingly, applied to a magician.

The Wizard of the North, John Henry Anderson

Anderson who was a showman in the grand manner, is credited with moving magic from fairgrounds to the theatre and was believed to be the first conjuror to ever pull rabbits from a hat.

He had some wonderful tricks and illusions in his act. These included: the Inexhaustible Bottle, which produced any drink requested by the members of the audience, and the Great Gun Trick, in which Anderson was seemingly able to catch a bullet fired at him from a musket.

The Gun Trick was described as "the most wonderful feat ever attempted by man; an extraordinary deception" was always kept as the finale of his act in order that "ladies might withdraw, to avoid witnessing the Gun Trick".

Early in the twentieth century, a brash American performer named Houdini packed the theatres for an extended run. A few years later, in 1911, another famous magician, The Great Lafeyette, died in a theatre fire in Edinburgh on the site of the current Festival Theatre.

Several amateur magicians began associating, and in 1912 formed the Society of Scottish Magicians.

Soon, however, the lights were going out all over Europe, and not only in theatres. The members of the Society of Scottish Magicians were not to see them lit again in their lifetime. By the end of the Great War the Society of Scottish Magicians had ceased to exist. However, there were many professional and amateur magicians in Edinburgh during the next two decades - as in most cities.

Several boys who had recently left school began associating to practise magic, and in the summer of 1939 resolved to form the Edinburgh Magic Circle after the end of the summer holidays. But the stormclouds were gathering again in Europe.

=== They agreed that whoever returned first from the war would found the new Circle. ===

The Edinburgh Magic Circle was eventually formed in 1946. In its early years it performed a full evening show in a theatre every autumn, and took a coach load of members to the magic convention at Newcastle.

With the rise of television, live performing declined, and fewer places existed for magicians to perform. There were still children's magicians, but few adult stage shows. Instead, adult performing began to turn to close-up magic, at dinners and other functions. Magic also began to be popular for corporate entertaining and promotion.

For many years the Circle has held the Scottish Young Magician of the Year Competition, and also had a junior section. It now meets in licensed premises, and has no juniors at present.

Edinburgh Magic Circle continues to be a lively club with a Day of Magic convention in the autumn, an Open Night in the spring, and a high proportion of active performers.

... some of them will be me, hopefully ;o)

So, what to startle my professional magician brothers with?

No rabbit at hand, I decided to do some close-up magic tricks.


  • First, a slik handkerchief tighly knotted to a preexamined piece of rope mysteriously de-attached itself from the rope with a pinch of magic salt.

  • Next, the Royal Family in the deck of cards had dinner with me at the magic table. Whenever they got separated in a shuffle, they always returned in their seats, next to their husbands or wives!

  • Then three fellow magicians have been invited to sit at my 'dinning' table and eat cards for supper ;o)
    Of course, since it was a Royal meal they had to borrow coins of me to pay for each dish. Whilst turning away, I could predict who would borrow which coin of me; 1 pound, 2 pence or 50 pence. Again applause!

  • Moreover, each of my 'guests' left a coin in one of three glasses, then filled them up with Scottish mineral water (see figure below). The moment I was blindfolded and tasted the water I again could tell them which coin was in which glass. Amazement!!

  • Coin prediction trick by me, the great Tornaldo

  • Finally, the Grand Bet. I betted with two assistants that the one who would empty their glass of water with a straw first would keep all coins. After the count of three, we al sucked our water out of the glass, but no wonder mine got emptied first.... I got to keep all coins ;o)

  • -----

    NOTE: Would you like to win a bet with your friends? Try the Great Bet as I did at the end of my audition.

    Make sure you first pierce a hole halfway straight through each plastic straw, with a needle... and secretly cover the holes whilst you suck the water out of the glass with the coin. Your friends will have a hard time getting any water out of their glasses.... You win all coins!


    In two weeks time from now the Edinburgh Magic Circle will have come to a verdict. Either I have become an honourable member, or they will turn me into a rabbit... eeeeks.

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