The magician and entertainer Bertie Pearce will be next Tuesday's (22 November) guest speaker at the Nerja Arts Society lecture. He will also be performing some of his tricks at the dinner afterwards. And before, on Monday 21st, he'll be doing the same during the Costa del Sol branch's lunch at the Sierra restaurant in Mijas Costa.
Bertie is no stranger to the Costa del Sol and has been asked on several occasions to talk to the societies.
Bertie, 48, has been a lecturer with the Arts Society since 2008 and has captivated audiences both in the UK and abroad with his talks on a range of subjects from Punch and Judy to Charles Dickens and the one that he's going to give next week; Creating An Imaginary World: Theatre Design from Temple to Playhouse, into the Picture Frame and out again.
"This lecture really goes back to the Drama degree I did at the University of Manchester," explains Bertie, who adds that you need to "look back to how the Greeks did productions" to really understand stage design. "They had special effects even then," he reveals. The talk guides the audience through the centuries to Elizabethan London and the Globe Theatre, to Victorian plays and finally more modern productions.
Bertie was born and bred in Sussex and has lived there all his life. "I've moved about three fields away from where I was born," he jokes. He continues to live there with his wife, two children and their sheep.
Having read that Bertie had a degree in Drama, I'd prepared to ask him how he'd gone from that to becoming a magician. However, it turns out that it was the magic that led him to studying Drama and that magic tricks are in his blood.
"My family did magic and my maternal grandfather was an amateur conjurer, so I got the bug," Bertie explains. Although he says he never really knew his grandfather as he died when Bertie was just five, he inherited all of the props that his ancestors had collected over the years.
Bertie's first show in front of an audience was at school when he was 17 years old and that is when he decided that he enjoyed entertaining people.
After studying in Manchester, Bertie attended the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris and went on to spend around four years working on cruise ships as an entertainer.
It was from his experiences working on the cruises that Bertie developed his first show: All Aboard – The Comedy of Cruising, inspired by some of the characters he's come across during his time. He performed the show at the Bridewell Theatre in London and it sold out for 11 nights.
This huge success gained him Gold Star status as member of the Inner Magic Circle; a select group of Britain's Magic Circle, which has, since its formation in 1905, worked to promote and advance the art of magic.
Bertie admits that travelling with his art can prove tricky sometimes, especially at airport security and reveals that he used to travel with the head of his ventriloquist's dummy in his hand luggage, which has caused quite a commotion. "The exploding bible was a difficult one to get through too," he adds.
Needless to say, Bertie has to plan his trips, and indeed his tricks, carefully.
He also says that he's "delighted" that things are getting back to normal after the pandemic. "We had Zoom which was a great alternative, but magic is not so easy. You certainly don't get the same repartee with the audience."
Bertie goes on to point out that magic tricks are very interactive, which became impossible. "You couldn't ask someone to take a card. There was no touching and you can't use sanitizer to clean a lot of the props," he adds.
Bertie says he's looking forward to being back on the Costa del Sol (and not just to escape the rain - I did ask him if he had a rain trick up his sleeve, as we're pretty desperate here) and says he's looking forward to seeing the "friends" again that he's made over the years.