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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Some Tips on Seance Performance (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

dmkraig
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After having performed numerous "seances," I just wanted to share some of my ideas. They're mine. They may or may not mesh with yours. I'm not looking to be "corrected," but if you want to share your ideas, go ahead.

1) Re: Disclaimers. I don't give one. They're useless because people will believe what they want to believe no matter what you say. The only people interested in them are people wishing they were Randi and those who feel guilty about this type of performance. If you don't want to do this type of performance...DON'T!. It's that simple.

1a) That said, I don't call my demonstrations seances, I call them "seance experiences" and describe them as a combination of what a Victorian seance was like combined with modern ghost hunting techniques and technology. I begin by talking about the history of seances and how, when the dark seance was introduced, it became a breeding ground for frauds (yes, I know fraud began before that, but with the dark portion of the seance it became easier to accomplish). I also explain that I have been a magician for many years and that I know how the frauds did their work. I even show people how it can be done (Corinda's Powers of Darkness--a great opening, IMO).

2) Realize that this should not be a show for people to watch, but something for participation by EVERY PERSON THERE. The larger the audience, the more the focus needs to be on the dark seance. Everything must prepare and give a mindset to the audience for the dark seance at the end of the presentation. While that should still be the focus, a small audience can participate in various experiments.

3) Eugene Burger recommends writing scripts for each effect, memorizing them, and presenting each effect as a virtual play. If I had Eugene's voice, I do that, too! I don't have his voice, and I don't think most people do. From what I've seen, people reciting a memorized script sounds like...people reciting a memorized script. I suggest memorizing an outline of what you want to say and, perhaps some key lines. Then speak from the heart and with a focus on what's going on. It will seem far more genuine.

4) To do this type of show it's important to BE THE MEDIUM. Look that way. Act that way. Bascom Jones, in his famous "Magick" journal, used to say that a storm would be created by a female mentalist who acted the role and dressed all in black. That hasn't happened...yet...but I agree with the point.

5) The key to performing a seance show is not the effects, but the presentation and what you say. If you think you can do 10 effects in a full evening show, with dialog and participation you may only end up doing five or six. Be able to change the structure of your presentation so you can immediately go to the dark seance portion of the show.

6) Lately, I've been including Jack Reimon's L.I.F.T. You can do this with a surprisingly heavy table. This can allow it to come back down with a loud THUD! Strongly recommended! Treat it like a typical horror movie. Imply that one thing is going to happen. Be patient. Let audience anticipation build up. Call on the spirits repeatedly. Then the table goes up quickly and as high as possible (Jeff McBride gave me this idea...I was thinking slow would be better, but I was wrong). Straight up!

7) For a seance, "less is more" (according to Burger) and I agree. So how do you fill the evening with fewer effects? Get the audience involved. Get them doing something. Try having them do visualizations and breathing together. I like to include Kenton's "Time Machine" for this.

8) The key is to build the anticipation of the dark seance section. I have done several without this, but Jeff McBride insisted to me I shouldn't overlook it. He was absolutely right, and I'm convinced that every presentation should include it. Traditionally, a room should be made totally dark. In public venues, however, this is rather impossible. So I just explain that I think we are ready for the dark seance section, and that since we can't turn out all of the lights, everyone should simply close their eyes.

9) During the dark seance the medium calls on the spirits. Remember, less is more. One or maybe two effects are all that is required to get people experiencing the strangest phenomena.

To do a section with a dark seance properly requires that you control the audience and build up their expectations. If you don't know how to do this you shouldn't be giving seance performances.

10) People who come to a seance experience are either "dragged along" or very interested. The dragged along aren't going to do much more than be amazed, but those who are very interested will be eager for more! This is where BOR sales can make you a LOT of money. You may find appropriate "gadgets" to sell rather hard to find. EMF meters and temperature sensors can cost you a great deal to keep in stock, but you might consider them. I also strongly recommend pitch books. For example, I purchased Paul Voodini's "The Perfect Seance." If you do get any pitch books, I suggest that you do more than simply print them out. I've yet to find one that doesn't need editing. Read it over and make changes, especially ones that put it into your "voice" rather than the voice of the person from who you purchased the rights. If your name is legally on the book as author, make it your book. Correct typos. Put it in your voice. Delete things you disagree with. Add things you think are omitted.

The thing I like about "The Perfect Seance" is that after showing people what is possible, the book tells how people can do it in their home with friends. What could be better than reproducing some of the effects they've seen? If you're thinking, "Wait a minute! How can they do some of the effects I do without the knowledge and gaffs?" you don't understand this type of presentation and shouldn't be doing it.

11) After my most recent presentation, people outside the halls were arguing whether the presentation was real or magic tricks. This is fantastic! I think this is EXACTLY the type of response to get. Why? Because people are intensely involved in the presentation. They have strong opinions about it and will actually get into fights over it. A bad review wouldn't be that the show was real or fake, but that is was simply boring. People don't get into fights over boring shows, they simply fall asleep.


I imagine that some of you actually performing may agree or disagree with me. That's fine. These are tips that work for me. If you have other ideas, I'm sure readers here would love to read them. Agreeing or disagreeing with me or other posters doesn't make me, you, or others right or wrong. It's just what works for us. If people are doing seance performances, or thinking about giving them, I hope this gives you some insight. Performers of this type of experience may differ in their approach, and I hope they'll include their opinions. That is, let the flaming begin, too.
Godzilla
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WOW...
I can only say, Thank You for sharing!
I will take it as advice! If I disagree,I will let you know in a couple of years! Smile

Gary
"If you watch Godzilla backwards, it's about a big ass lizard who helps rebuild a half burnt-down city, then moonwalks back into the ocean"
ThatsJustWrong!
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That was a well organized, concise and very useful post. Really good stuff there. My only question regards item 10 in which you state that you print and resell Paul's book after purchasing the rights and editing it a bit. This just seems to slip into the realm of fuzzy ethics. As a playwright, my licensing agreement states that you must present my plays under my name as written, and permisison to make any changes to the text is required. I've also authored books on leadership and mentoring and any material quoted that is not my own is properly attributed and cited to the original authors. I'm a big proponent of BOR and have several seance programs coming up so I'd really like to know what I can and cannot sell.
Joe Leo

All entertainers can benefit from some help from an experienced stage director. How about you?

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Viano2
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Thanks for sharing. I will have a dozen performers at my house on Saturday. All are either performing seances or preparing seances. Your timing is perfect.

Rich
Voodini
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Quote:
On 2012-02-21 10:39, that'sJustWrong! wrote:
My only question regards item 10 in which you state that you print and resell Paul's book after purchasing the rights and editing it a bit. This just seems to slip into the realm of fuzzy ethics.

Hi Joe, thanks for your concern. In actual fact what dmkraig is referring to is my "pitch books". These are sold with the express intention of being printed off and sold on. The purchaser buys the rights to resell my work. The books have the purchaser's name on them and their contact details, and they can edit them or not as they see fit. It's all legit and above board. Smile
Voodini - cold reading, past life regressions, remote viewing, Q&A, palm reading, bizarre & seance...
www.readerofminds.co.uk
dmkraig
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Thanks, Paul, and thanks for your book! I think it's very good and, quite frankly, I earned more selling them at one presentation than the cost I paid to you. I would gladly encourage anyone doing seance performances to strongly consider buying your book.

A "pitch book," in my opinion, requires a pitch. It's important that the performer actually pitches the product rather than let it sit there with the hope that it will sell itself. This doesn't have to be a hard-sell TV infomercial. In my case, I made the seance interactive and involving for the audience. The next step is to let people know that it can be done at home and the book will show them how.

Joe, I am an author myself and I neither want anyone to copy my work and sell it, nor do I ever want to copy someone else's work without full knowledge and authorization, in writing, of that person. Kenton has some good pitch books available, too.
GeoffreyD
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Hi dmkraig, I am using my 100th post to say "Bravo!!!!".
All excellent advice.
Please let us know if you think of any other points.
Cheers
Geoffrey
www.dark-myst.com.au
ThatsJustWrong!
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Thank you both for your clarification. I was unfamiliar with the term but absolutely love the idea. As I said, I'm looking for some things to put on the BOR table next to my Aleister Crowley bobble-heads and Ripper victim collectible cards. Paul, can you please PM me licensing info? And Dmkraig, please accept my most humble apologies for the misunderstanding.
Joe Leo

All entertainers can benefit from some help from an experienced stage director. How about you?

www.MisfitMysteries.com
Mario Morris
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I found your post very helpful thanks for sharing it!
dmkraig
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No apology needed, Joe! You can get all of Paul's products, including his pitchbooks, at
http://www.readerofminds.co.uk/

Kenton's pitch books:
http://www.wonderwizards.com/product_inf......s_id=426

Richard Webster on how to work with pitch books, including a pitch book:
http://www.magicsupply.com/product.php?productid=2102
dmkraig
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Thank you, Geoffrey.

Yes, there are other things I could add:

1) Because some effects are dependent upon how well selected members of the audience respond to suggestion, some things just aren't as effective as you might like. I don't like the apologetic "sometimes the spirits don't respond" out. That should, in my opinion, only be PART of the out. Follow a non-responsive effect with a sure-fire (i.e. gaffed) effect. People won't remember the failure.

2) Similar heavily gaffed effects combined with non-gaffed effects multiply the effectiveness and are confusing. For example, combining the Haunted Table
http://tinyurl.com/6mxaa66
with L.I.F.T.
I mean, you can't be doing both, can you?

3) Good assistants are invaluable, especially if you can have a strong enough personality to have people watch you instead of the assistant.

4) Be strong and don't back down. If you, for example, use a gaffed book and someone asks if it's gimmicked, tell them "It's just a book." If someone says, "You're just doing a bunch of tricks," tell them you don't care what they believe. People saw what they say. I also like Dunninger's "For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is enough."

5) Be an expert! Learn about the subject you're discussing. At the same time, remember the advice of my late voice teacher: "If you make a mistake, make it with authority. Besides, the people in the audience probably won't know the difference." If someone does "correct" what you say, thank them for the correction.

I think this is a good area for people to work today. I'd be interested in reading some tips from other performers.
Voodini
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Quote:
On 2012-02-21 17:17, that'sJustWrong! wrote:
Paul, can you please PM me licensing info?

Hi Joe. I've PM'd you. Smile
Voodini - cold reading, past life regressions, remote viewing, Q&A, palm reading, bizarre & seance...
www.readerofminds.co.uk
EVILDAN
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Dmkraig wrote: "4) To do this type of show it's important to BE THE MEDIUM. Look that way. Act that way."

What exactly does a medium look like?
by EVILDAN....
"The Coin Board Book" - moves and routines with the coin panel board. - http://www.lybrary.com/the-coin-board-book-p-827955.html
"SLASHER - A Horror Whodunnit" - a bizarre close-up routine based on Bob Neale's "Sole Survivor."
PM me for more info.
"Zombie Town" - a packet effect about how a small town turned into zombies. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nzJhcoJtyOM
docsteve
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On 2012-02-23 22:04, EVILDAN wrote:
Dmkraig wrote: "4) To do this type of show it's important to BE THE MEDIUM. Look that way. Act that way."

What exactly does a medium look like?


Yeah, I'm more of a large, myself...
[
ssucahyo
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Nice tips, I llike no 4 to 6.
Marqus
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I just saw the video for DRIFT (which comes out in March).

This looks like it could possibly be an added plus to seance work.
dmkraig
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Quote:
On 2012-02-23 22:04, EVILDAN wrote:
Dmkraig wrote: "4) To do this type of show it's important to BE THE MEDIUM. Look that way. Act that way."

What exactly does a medium look like?


Hi, Dan.
I don't know if you intended to be humorous (you never can tell in forums!) or if you really do want to know the answer.
Actually, on the basis that you're being serious, it's a good question.
The answer, IMO, is that you have to make up your own mind as to what THE MEDIUM looks like.
That's not meant to be a cop-out. I'm serious.
This is acting 101.
IF you were a real medium, what would you think? How would you talk? What would you eat? How would you look at people? What is your backstory? How did you become a medium? What are some of your favorite experiences as a medium? What are your most shocking experiences as a medium? What is your greatest ability as a medium? Now, here's the thing: once you have determined all of these things, you never have to say any of them to your audience. If you act like THE MEDIUM, your words, body language, and even some non-tangables—what the acting teacher and director Constantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski (see, for example, his book: *An Actor Prepares* or *Building a Character*) called "rays"—will unconsciously tell the audience that you *are* THE MEDIUM. You will look like and act like THE MEDIUM and the audience will believe you and believe in you.
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