FreshBooks

Archive for April, 2008

delirium.jpgI’m a massive fan of Cirque Du Soleil, and have been to a number of the shows that have run at the Royal Albert Hall, and Battersea, in the big top.

We had the opportunity to get tickets for Delirium at The O2 for last night, so we jumped at the chance, especially as this was the retirement of the two year run of Cirques first Arena based show.

I’d read a few things about the show before heading up to London, and understood that it was ‘different’ to Cirques normal performances.

We had drinks and food at Raan at the O2, which was really fabulous, and then we managed to head into the O2 VIP lounge. The lounge was great, with only a few people in there, no queues, it’s own bar, comfy chairs and room to breathe, we left the queues behind and enjoyed some pre-show drinks before heading up in the private lift to the 4th floor.

The O2 is a 20,000 seater arena, and the setup for the show divided the space basically in half. giving around a 10,000 seat performance. A pretty huge number for anything except a concert.

Delirium is Cirques first foray into the Arena performance space, and to be honest, it’s got it’s draw backs. The show is, if you sat in the right place, a spectacular show of music, light, projection, multi-media and performance. However from the wrong seats, you’re watching something that could become confusing, long, disjointed and a disappointment.

The stage incorporates 540 feet of projection surfaces, the equivalent of four IMAX screens, allowing massive multimedia videos to be projected onto the screens. The main stage also incorporates a massive semi transparent fly-screen that can slide across the stage to allow projections to be show in front of the performers on stage. This allows some very impressive hologram type effects to be shown on the stage. The visual experience of seeing a 120 foot high woman interacting with the performers on stage is or could be quite breathtaking. I also enjoyed the section at the beginning with the 120 odd foot tall doors that opened and closed with similar sized faces peering out into the audience.

I say, could be quite breathtaking, because I feel that Cirque really failed to make the show what it could be. Yes the show is clever, and large scale, but to be honest I think The O2 was too big for the show. In other cities, the custom stage is viewed from both sides, with the audience sat behind, and in front of the flat stage, pulling them to a more central viewpoint, and creating more of a connection with the performance. With the O2 performance, the audience (all 10,000 of them) were seating in front of the stage only. With a stage that is also quite narrow (for the audience size) it means that a lot of the angles don’t work, particularly some of the fly-screen projections that interact with the performers.

Cirque shows are normally a perfectly balanced mixture of music, singing, acrobatics and on stage performance. Delirium concentrates more on the music, containing music, and remixed music from the last 20 years of Cirque shows, many with an additional vocal section laid over the top. This is the closest you’ll probably get to a Cirque Du Soleil rock concert. However the issue is that Cirque isn’t a rock band, it’s not a super group, and it doesn’t pull off the job of trying to be one.

We were very disappointed that a lot of the performance time, two hours with no interval, contained few acrobatic or circus performers compared to other shows, for a 10,000 one performer with a red balance ball doing contact juggling is really not great. The only exceptions were the hula hoop girl, who was both visually excellent, and dynamic enough to hold your attention, and the balance acts half way through.

The rest of the show was slightly confusing, the large screens showing a mixture of multimedia and realtime feeds from stage, and almost hypnotic visual effects, meaning that at times, the biggest thing in your eye line, the 560 foot screens, became the center of attention, and not the on stage performance. I regularly was distracted by audience members getting up and walking round, and drifted from watching to listening, not sure if I was there for the music, or the visuals.

Personally I think any of the existing cirque shows could have worked well in an arena, possibly with a smaller audience, but the new style arena show wasn’t my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong, the show visually was stunning, if you were central to the stage, but it lacked the normal Cirque feel and ambiance.

Maybe it was good that the show retired last night, for me Quidam at the Albert hall next year will be much more of the true Cirque experience for us..

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presto.jpg

Pixar Studios, creators of Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Cars, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Ratatoullie, also create ‘short films‘. Normally to accompany the features films (you may have seen ‘lifted’ if you went to see Ratatoullie). Pixar have now started on their latest short, a film based around a magician character and his long suffering rabbit.

The film, entitled ‘Presto’, is described as featuring a turn-of-the-century magician named Presto DiGiotagione, who’s become famous for an astounding rabbit from a hat trick. His rabbit Alec become more and more dissatisfied as he shares none of Presto’s wild success.

One day while Presto is out eating a lavish dinner, Alec is left behind, locked in a birdcage with a carrot tortuously out of reach…

via: HCMS website

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I’ve seen all the previous shows Derren has done, indeed I’ve seen this show at least twice, and after a busy day up in London I headed back to Reading to meet up with two other members of HCMS and two non magical friends to see the show.

Thankfully Derren has also opened a west end run of this show this time, and the Home Counties Magical Society hopefully will have some interesting news about that event in the next few days.

Last year Derren didn’t do a run in Reading (possibly to do with the Reading crowd managing to, lets say deviate most of the effects from their intended outcome year!!) but thankfully he’d decided to give them another chance and return to the Hexagon this year. We had back of the flat stalls, center tickets, a very good view point. I think one of the nice things about Derren Brown shows is that the tickets are very reasonably priced (unless you pay the £200 odd on ebay!!) and the programs are a fair price at £5.. anyhow… On entering the theatre I instantly spotted a Malloy Master Prediction box hanging above the stage, that was quite exciting in itself, since I’ve been wondering how it worked (now I know!). The stage was set in the guise of a Victorian front parlour, think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, seances, mediumship and mystery, fitting the show very well

Before I go further, I should warn you there are some spoilers in this review, so.. if you’re lucky enough to have tickets to the remaining sell out shows.. go away.. come back after the shows run is over.. You’ll just enjoy it more…

Read the rest of this entry »

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As well as the huge number of other things we’re currently juggling, this weekend was the big walk. The Hangers Way, a 21-mile long-distance walking route through Hampshire.

The route begins at Alton Railway Station, out into the lush Hampshire countryside, along a series of steep-sided wooded hills, known as “The Hangers”, through the pretty market town of Petersfield to finish at Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

The walk’s divided into eight sections, each around an hour to an hour and a half, providing a really good day out if you chose to do just one section in a day. The route also passes through the famous village of Selborne, once home to Gilbert White, the 18th century naturalist and author of “The Natural History of Selborne”.

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The Magic Woods has started it’s voting process on The Magic Industry Awards. The Magic Woods Awards are awards given to magicians, tricks and institutions in the magic industry, by fellow magicians. Nominations are made by magicians on The Magic Woods forum, and then anyone is welcome to vote on The Magic Woods Awards website. The awards cover everything from best new trick, to best magic website, and the awards are run annually in April. The nominees looks very good for this year, including our own Home Counties Magical Society Website!!!

TMW Award for Best Trick

Current Nominees for TMW Award for Best Trick
The C.A.N.N.A.B.I.S Effect – Daniel Young & Lee Hathaway
Between The Lines – Michael Murray
The Casanova Closer – Steve Haynes
Extreme Burn – Richard Sanders
iKnow – Jason Palter

TMW Award for Best Teaching Video

Current Nominees for TMW Award for Best Teaching Video
The Casanova Concept – Steve Haynes with Big Blind Media
Don Driver’s Jam Auction DVD – Don Driver
Past Midnight – Benjamin Earl
Here I Go Again – Bill Malone
The Roadrunner Cull – Kostya Kimlat
No Camera Tricks – Richard Osterlind

TMW Award for Best Book

Current Nominees for TMW Award for Best Book
Jack Parker’s 52 Memories- Andi Gladwin
Designing Miracles – Darwin Ortiz
Scripting Magic – Pete McCabe
The Secret Life of Houdini – William Kalush, Larry Sloman

TMW Award for Best Magician

Current Nominees for TMW Award for Best Magician
John Archer
Jeff McBride
David Stone
Shoot Ogawa

TMW Award for Best Website

Current Nominees for TMW Award for Best Website
Magic Unlimited -Tim Ellis
iTricks
Magic Video Depot
MagicWeek
Home Counties Magic Society

TMW Award for Best Newcomer

Current Nominees for TMW Award for Best Newcomer
David Forrest
Benjamin Earl
Justin Lee Collins
Peter Harrison

TMW Award for Lifetime Achievement

Current Nominees for TMW Award for Lifetime Achievement
Wayne Dobson
Michael Ammar
Harry Lorayne
Pat Page
Ali Bongo

Make sure you get over to the awards site and vote for your favorite in each category, voting closes at the end of April

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After almost six months of hard work, from conceptual stage to launching last night, I’m very pleased to say that the new Home Counties Magical Society Website is now up and running.

A fully fledged content management system is now in place, and the site provides a full and flexible portal to the magic community and our members.

Visitors to the site will be able to see everything about our Society, from joining instructions, through to finding the location of our Society though interactive maps, you can even get the site to plan a driving route for you!!

As well as the normal Society information, the site provides information about the next lecture, reviews of previous lectures, magic related news and events, show and convention reports.

Members of the society get access to the private side of the site through their own unique username and password, giving them the ability to look through previous society news letters, the DVD Library lists, reviews and new purchases, and other content that is private to the society.

Members can also become more involved in the society through the ability to vote, and have polls on subjects, as well as a number of surprises that we have in store for later in the sites development. Members can also contribute to the site by writing article and news reports.

Advertisers also benefit as we are running a banner advertisement program for magic related companies and magazines, our rates are very very low! If you lecture for us, as an added advantage you’ll get one month of free advertising space following your lecture, which is a great way for members to buy additional items or other societies to contact you following a successful lecture.

We feel that the Home Counties Magical Society now has one of the leading and most flexible society resources for it’s members, and look forward to the opportunity to welcome more visitors and members to the site.

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