The August meeting was a new format for The Modern Mystic League as Brian Lead, Chairman and Concert Secretary, interviewed member David Hemingway for an open afternoon billed as ‘David Hemingway Against The Audience’. Not that Brian had to ask too many questions, as David regaled us with lots of stories from his long experience of magic as a performer, writer, prop maker, illusion builder and adviser to theatre shows and television programmes.
The interview was accompanied by many film clips projected onto a screen behind the protagonists thanks to Allan Clarke. The initial theme was how good performers can take an ordinary trick and make it special. However, there were many tangents. David can be forthright in his opinions and he is usually right. Much of what he said was about things more important than the tricks themselves.
Lots of famous names in magic came up during the course of the discussions. Ken Brooke had given him good advice in his early days - “be yourself”. David is proud of the fact that the illusion he developed for the Mystique show in Blackpool to vanish the whole cast had over five thousand performances. David talked about some of the pieces he has performed over many years and demonstrated how to get a lady on stage to help using ribbons without causing her any embarrassment. He also told us about working with Laurence Olivier on the television production of Lost Empires.
Before the refreshments we were treated to a clip of the vanishing railway carriage shown on the Jeremy Beadle show Box of Tricks. After the raffle David showed us a George Blake routine with a hat before more film clips. Stories about David Nixon, Tommy Cooper and John Calvert followed in quick succession and David closed the afternoon with a clip of him performing a stand-up routine with Jumbo cards.
This report can only touch on the many things that were dealt with in the course of the discussions between David, Brian and the audience. David’s books and DVDs are highly recommended; several in the audience mentioned how having sat down to watch a bit of the DVD The Magic Fly On The Wall they had to watch it right through to the end. President Roger Woods gave the vote of thanks at the end of a most enjoyable afternoon.