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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Seance performance dilemma (advice requested) (10 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Snoogans
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Gang,
I've amassed over the years quite a Holy Grail list of literature concerning Séance performance and I've devoured every word as I want to be well prepped for my first performance among a small group of guests at my annual Halloween party. I have recently realized that none of the books I have address an issue that I feel is important both for performance and the magicians code.

First, a little background: I live in the Bible Belt as will my guests. With respect to the gentle handling of the guests and their beliefs as addressed in many of the books, it has occurred to me that it is very likely that none of them have ever experienced a séance before and most of their experience will be from ghost hunts, television, friend of a friend stories, and so on.

I have no intention of going all out on my performances. There will be no secret doors for confederates to use. At best, there will be a table levitation or something breakable falling from a shelf. To be blunt, I will not be surprised if this scares the living hell out of the sitters.

I want everyone to have a great time and having something to talk about long after the event, but I don't want to traumatize anyone. My concern is that I won't know how much any given individual will be able to withstand. It seems that something as small as a levitation, a disembodied voice or a breakable object falling from across the room could very well cause a sitter to go into hysterics which of course, I do NOT want.

So, here is my question: in a situation where the sitters must be handled with the most gentle kids gloves possible, it is taking away from the performance to explain prior that everything the sitters experience is either their imagination seeded via suggestion by the Medium, or a trick? What about the ethics of the Magicians Code? I do not mean explain the secrets but explain that it was supposed to happen and part of the performance?

My goal is to give the sitters a positive and memorable event, but what if the safest way to do that is to explain that there is no actual paranormal activity happening?

Your wisdom, please!

Thanks!

Snoogans!
Godzilla
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Snoogans,
K.I.S.S. Less is more!
Provide as much protection for the sitters, as possible. (Extra protection candles etc...)
They, will believe what they want to believe ... explained or not.
Be, prepared for anything !
There will always be something happen, you think you are prepared for ... YOU ARE NOT !

Have Fun !

~G
"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"
Snoogans
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Thanks! I had a feeling this is what I'd hear. Sounds like a constant balancing act.

Thanks again!
gothicmagic
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Also test the waters through conversations in the areas you wish to perform (start off safe with "local" legends and or old time ghost story questions) we're doing our second seance magic convention East Coast Spirit Sessions in SC pretty close to the bible belt (not as strict as some areas as it is Myrtle beach)
the feedback you get from have you ever heard of... may help you see where the boundaries are
Vlad ^0^
One of The Founding Fathers of The East Coast Spirit Sessions & Co Producer of Bizarre hauntings
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Snoogans
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Good idea! I'll certainly use that!
jglumley
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If you disclaim "that there is no actual paranormal activity happening", some people actually see that as "there IS actual paranormal activity happening"

Spooking people out can actually be a snowball effect, IMHO. Just talking about, places people and times can be enough to send cold chills down peoples spine. Minds tend to go to dark places, to explain the unexplainable. Just shy away from anything "demonic" and you should be ok, maybe leave the spirit taps off too.
The "18"
horus1
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My performances are presented as part of "An Evening of Paranormal Entertainment".
In the moment I've found people are sometimes scared and exhilarated, but they generally love that feeling.
I you have control.. it's important to "know" your audience. Don't invite Grandma who will most certainly keel over. (unless you want to be trying to
contact her next week).
I find the most difficult time is after the performance. People often want to talk at length as if what they have seen is real.
Last week a s spec told me they were going to try bibliomancy with a relative who passed after a performance of Enoch. (Thanks Perkins and Prof BC!)
I had NO IDEA how to even respond except for.. "Cool...."
The day after or on the ride home, most people come to their senses and remember it was all entertainment.. but the lingering feeling that maybe it was real is part of the fun.
Slim King
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How many real seances have you yourself attended? Smile Smile Smile
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
weepinwil
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Quote:
On Jun 1, 2015, Snoogans wrote:

My goal is to give the sitters a positive and memorable event, but what if the safest way to do that is to explain that there is no actual paranormal activity happening?


How do you know there will be no paranormal activity? Just because you don't plan to invite them doesn't mean they will not show up.
"Til Death us do part!" - Weepin Willie
Mr Timothy Gray
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Snoogans,

Read Paul Voodini's 'The Paranormal Entertainer'. He gives great advice on how to deal with this situation, or with people that suddenly feel an 'unwelcomed' presence.
Yr. Obdt. Svt.,
Mr Timothy Gray

Specializing in the Occult Arts of Fortune Telling, Magic & Mediumship; Est. 1986
JAlenS
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Quote:
On Jun 1, 2015, Mr Timothy Gray wrote:
Snoogans,

Read Paul Voodini's 'The Paranormal Entertainer'. He gives great advice on how to deal with this situation, or with people that suddenly feel an 'unwelcomed' presence.


Also Voodini's It's a G G Ghost book has some great information on different types of audiences and thoughts on the different types.
Godzilla
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On Jun 1, 2015, Slim King wrote:
How many real seances have you yourself attended? Smile Smile Smile


I've never attended a "REAL" seance, myself !
"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"
Snoogans
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Quote:
On Jun 1, 2015, JAlenS wrote:
Quote:
On Jun 1, 2015, Mr Timothy Gray wrote:
Snoogans,

Read Paul Voodini's 'The Paranormal Entertainer'. He gives great advice on how to deal with this situation, or with people that suddenly feel an 'unwelcomed' presence.


Also Voodini's It's a G G Ghost book has some great information on different types of audiences and thoughts on the different types.


I actually own both and love them. They both seem to address how to handle the issue once it comes up. I expect th e issue to come up but I have no way to know how severe it might be. With that in mind, do you feel it is warranted to warn the sitters first or explain that what happened is either in their mind or staged to happen? In other words, defuse the situation before it happens, not during.

Thanks!
RCP
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Quote:
On Jun 1, 2015, Godzilla wrote:
Quote:
On Jun 1, 2015, Slim King wrote:
How many real seances have you yourself attended? Smile Smile Smile


I've never attended a "REAL" seance, myself !



What's a real séance?
Mr Timothy Gray
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Quote:
On Jun 2, 2015, Snoogans wrote:

I actually own both and love them. They both seem to address how to handle the issue once it comes up. I expect th e issue to come up but I have no way to know how severe it might be. With that in mind, do you feel it is warranted to warn the sitters first or explain that what happened is either in their mind or staged to happen? In other words, defuse the situation before it happens, not during.

Thanks!


Most importantly, you need to ask YOURSELF what it is you are hoping to achieve. Are you hoping for something akin to an ACTUAL seance, or are you just PERFORMING a seance? You might think you know the answer to this question, but you must dig deep. If you are only performing, then everything about you, your publicity and what you say should be tailored to that. No need for a disclaimer. Your natural showmanship will reveal that this is only a performance.

Being concerned that what you are doing will be mistaken for the real thing, is a HIGHLY problematic mindset. Are you nearly as good as all that? (This, let me assure you, is not meant as an attack - simply food for thought - the very same thing I ask myself.) If you are a performer - and a good one, at that - no one will mistake what they are experiencing as the real thing.

Audiences are much more intelligent than the literature of magic (and most magicians) give them credit for.
Yr. Obdt. Svt.,
Mr Timothy Gray

Specializing in the Occult Arts of Fortune Telling, Magic & Mediumship; Est. 1986
Snoogans
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I'm certainly not a professional, that's for sure. I'm more concerned that any belief of actual activity will not be because of me, but rather the religious beliefs of the sitters as I'm in the middle of the bible belt. Lee Earle warned of this in "Manifestations".

I intend to make the experience all about the sitters, with myself only playing a role of a guide, so to speak. For instance, glass moving, pendulums, Spiritus Claritas, and finally the dark séance. The example of the table levitation or breaking vase will be a last-ditch effort. I plan to follow Voodini's and Burger's wisdom as closely as possible. I have no desire to do any Trance Medium stuff as I'm not so confident as an actor, plus it looks too convenient and unrealistic to me, but that's JMHO.

Eventually I'd like to move into some of the topics covered in Hoodini's "Magician Among the Spirits" and include some Medium's Grip work, but that's far in the distance att.

It has occurred to me that 98% of what I want to do will have probably never been seen or heard of by my sitters before. As this will be a new experience for most of not all, I want to be certain that everything goes smoothly. Precautionary measures (white ball of light, salt, etc) will be observed. I guess in the big scheme of things, I'll just have to plan and rehearse everything to proficiency and hope for the best.

I appreciate everyone's thoughts. Please, keep them coming!

Snoogans!
Mr Timothy Gray
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Your last post includes a lot of different ideas and concepts - which is fine! - but where is the through-line? Ask yourself, what is it that you are trying to achieve? Stringing together different presentations does not a seance make. Right now, it seems, you haven't found the core reason as to why this seance is happening in the first place. You don't need an over-arching story - but you do need CLARITY. Your own clarity will lead to the audience's clarity as to what they are witnessing.

Also, second guessing how the audience will respond, is nothing more than an excuse on your part to keep tinkering and never actually executing.

You've got this! Now just ask yourself deeper questions, find what the through-line is, and aim for CLARITY!
Yr. Obdt. Svt.,
Mr Timothy Gray

Specializing in the Occult Arts of Fortune Telling, Magic & Mediumship; Est. 1986
Godzilla
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Quote:
On Jun 2, 2015, RCP wrote:
Quote:
On Jun 1, 2015, Godzilla wrote:
Quote:
On Jun 1, 2015, Slim King wrote:
How many real seances have you yourself attended? Smile Smile Smile


I've never attended a "REAL" seance, myself !



What's a real séance?


You know ... A real Medium, where there is no Knocking / no Channelling / no Movement / no Spirits / absolutley nothing happens ! Smile

Something, always happens at a unreal seance ! lol
"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"
Slim King
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You said ...."I have no desire to do any Trance Medium stuff as I'm not so confident as an actor, plus it looks too convenient and unrealistic to me, but that's JMHO."

Does this mean you actually went to a Seance performed by a Trance Medium? Who was it? Who was the Spirit guide?

http://www.fst.org/trance.htm
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
Snoogans
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Quote:
On Jun 2, 2015, Mr Timothy Gray wrote:
Your last post includes a lot of different ideas and concepts - which is fine! - but where is the through-line? Ask yourself, what is it that you are trying to achieve? Stringing together different presentations does not a seance make. Right now, it seems, you haven't found the core reason as to why this seance is happening in the first place. You don't need an over-arching story - but you do need CLARITY. Your own clarity will lead to the audience's clarity as to what they are witnessing.

Also, second guessing how the audience will respond, is nothing more than an excuse on your part to keep tinkering and never actually executing.

You've got this! Now just ask yourself deeper questions, find what the through-line is, and aim for CLARITY!

You're right. I should have mentioned that earlier. I intend to follow Voodini's Jack the Ripper séance, except I won't do the past life portion. I have visited the graves of all 5 victims along with taking several JTR walking tours (both guided and self-guided) so this has served as a nice foundation for the séance. The card reading portion will take place throughout the evening and will serve only as a primer of sorts to jump start suggestion and encourage the sitters to start making connections with what is suggested. It'll help get their imaginations going. I also intend to use "From Hell".

The rest of the activities are planned for the end of the party.

Thanks!

Quote:
On Jun 2, 2015, Slim King wrote:
You said ...."I have no desire to do any Trance Medium stuff as I'm not so confident as an actor, plus it looks too convenient and unrealistic to me, but that's JMHO."

Does this mean you actually went to a Seance performed by a Trance Medium? Who was it? Who was the Spirit guide?

http://www.fst.org/trance.htm

No, only read about them in several books and listened to others talk about them. My goal is to give the sitters something to talk about for a few days after. I don't want them saying "Did you see what he did?" I want them to say "Did you experience what I did" or "Did it happen to you, too?" I want the séance to be all about the sitters, not about me.
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