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The Magic Cafe Forum Index Ľ Ľ Penny for your thoughts Ľ Ľ Alternative premises for mentalism (9 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Christopher Taylor
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V.I.P.
British Columbia Canada
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I play this game professionally. I have come to realize that because of simply who I am, I am far more successful at convincing my audience that I can sense the energy-residue in an object handled by a participant than I am at convincing them I can read their minds. I have also TOTALLY convinced people I can bend metal. So, does all that mean I am a professional mentalist or Bizarre Magician? I don't care. I am being me and I get paid either way and my audience has fun.

Christopher
Christopher Taylor

Member P.E.A.

www.taylorimagineering.com

MAKING MENTALISM MORE IMPOSSIBLE
Mac_Stone
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Inner circle
Miami, FL
1167 Posts

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Quote:
On Oct 24, 2020, Christopher Taylor wrote:
I am being me and I get paid either way and my audience has fun.


All the professionals that I talk to are completely in line with this. They also agree that there are no hard and fast rules about what is and isn't mentalism, only aesthetic choices.
Mr. Woolery
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Inner circle
Fairbanks, AK
1944 Posts

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Frankly, as I go through old notebooks, I realize that brainstorming (which is at least part of whatís happening on this thread) will produce a lot of short-lived avenues that donít get us where we want to go. But those ideas can get us closer just because they are outside the box we started in.

I get exasperated with Mindproís strong definition of mentalism sometimes, but I respect him for having it and I appreciate that he holds a line. I do wish I actually had a better understanding of his definition, but that seems to be a difficulty in communication.

However, with no offense intended to Mindpro or anyone else, shutting down folks who are contributing ďwhat ifĒ ideas or ďmaybe one couldĒ ideas is counterproductive. I fully expect that 95% of the ideas in my notebooks wonít go anywhere. And thatís true of performance ideas as well as physical art I might plan out. If I lose my excitement for an art piece during the planning stages, I wonít make it. But the idea process is what gets me to my passion.

On subject, I think the core of mentalism is that it demonstrates what the human mind can (apparently) do. But most of the popular approaches are either psychic or psychological. Is there room to perform mentalism with a spiritual frame or does it become something else if thatís your premise? One of the lines Osterlind uses in his L&L videos is ďI donít know how I do this...Ē This seems a bit disarming and allows him to break out of the range abilities already shown without having to explain the ability now shown. I donít really know what other theatrical premises might be the next game changer. But I donít think shutting off brainstorming opportunities will help answer the question.

Patrick
Mindpro
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Eternal Order
10021 Posts

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Quote:
On Oct 24, 2020, Mr. Woolery wrote:
I get exasperated with Mindproís strong definition of mentalism sometimes, but I respect him for having it and I appreciate that he holds a line. I do wish I actually had a better understanding of his definition, but that seems to be a difficulty in communication.

Patrick


Patrick, please understand that none of this has anything to do with my definition of mentalism, but rather only as it pertains to the OPs original post as intended for most here as mentalism within the magic community.

Also, my distinction between working professionals and hobbyists and amateurs was by no means meant to be offensive or dismissive, but rather than just to point out that those who work professionally have different perspectives, needs, expectations, and understandings especially as it pertains to getting bookings and making an income from performing. This factors into how they create and position their performances. It was from this position I was referring.

No offense taken.
WitchDocChris
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Inner circle
York, PA
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Quote:
On Oct 24, 2020, Djin wrote:
I'm not a pro. That said I'll throw my two cents in anyway.

How far you can go, what you can get your audience to believe, depends on you and your audience. People will swallow hook line and sinker that which reinforces what they already think they know. If the body language and psychology approach is in line with their beliefs, you can push that as far as your skill allows. If they believe that their tinfoil hat is blocking CIA mind control rays, then you may get them on board with your recently regained suppressed memories of having been a child MK ULTRA test subject that left you with these amazing abilities. There are people who want to hear about moonbeam power, enhanced brainwaves, demonic possession. All of it. The trick is twofold. Your ability to perform and your ability to "spot" the audience who is picking up what you're laying down.


I would counter this idea with a slightly different take.

You don't have to perform something that is within a person's specific beliefs. I seriously doubt most people have any serious beliefs on most of what we do on stage. Why would they? Psychic abilities or psychological skills are not something your average person is going to put much energy into thinking about; it just doesn't apply to their lives.

Most people have a generic sort of blanket belief in a variety of things, and if pushed can develop more of an opinion.

The key, in my opinion, to a good performance is in developing a narrative within the performance that makes the claimed demonstration seem plausible. Really, this applies to any theatrical endeavor that wants to achieve immersion.

Another way to put it - Spiderman can't fly. The established narrative of Spiderman gives him specific abilities, and if he suddenly used an ability outside of that set without explanation, people would instantly be pulled out of immersion because ... Spiderman can't fly.

The mistake I most commonly see is a performer failing to either properly establish the character/premise, or failing to stay within the established character/premise. IE: Starting a routine as a display of mind reading, then showing they had predicted the outcome ahead of time. Or claiming to be a mind reader and then bending metal. What do those things have to do with each other?

If the premise, character, and scripting all flow together, though, then you get the synergy required to get people to buy into it.
Christopher
Witch Doctor

Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
Jporter123
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Pueblo, CO
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WitchDocChris. I donít mean to start anything I just want clarification. You stated that the audience most likely does not put much thought into psychic abilities. If that is the case, then why does it matter if I read minds then bend metal? The audience has no idea if you can do that or not. And by said definition they donít know much anyways. I guess Iím trying to understand these points is all
Mindpro
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That is one of the main benefits and appeal of mentalism is while some (audiences, lay people) may think they have an idea of what it is, they really don't know for sure. Their mindset stops at "this guy has some special abilities..."

As a performer and person in business, this creates many great and unique opportunities. This is where many miss this huge point (and amatuers and hobbyists haven't yet gotten to this point) that it (mentalism) shifts from being about you and what you think, want, and believe, to being more about the type of expecttions of others as I just gave and WitchDocCris was mentioning.
Socrates
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How about no presentation at all, it seems to work for David Blaine.
funsway
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old things in new ways - new things in old ways
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"shifts from being about you and what you think, want, and believe, to being more about the type of expectations of others" - good advice.

Not limited to Mentalism, though. Any endeavor based on audience engagement can benefit from looking at affairs from the point of view of the other person(s) --
teacher, musician, clerk in candy store, magician, handyman ...

No sure why you think an "amateur" (one who does not accept pay) cannot have that knowledge or knowledge?
If anything, being concerned over getting a repeat billing might dilute concern over what is best of the observer, or bias selection of effect as to time or "amount of pay."

Yes, we can all agree, methinks, that many "new to performing" choose what is easy, popular, cheap or "all about me."

Maybe it is more "growth" than "shift" - and good mental based effects do require at least an illusion of interpersonal connection more than "wanna see a card trick." (opinion)

Sadly, few in any audience today have expectations not borrowed from social media, or wants not plunked in head by a marketer (politicians and religious folks included).

I would suggest that most spectators do have a notion about paranormal stuff, but no depth of understanding - so they are open to being taught or swayed as to what is important or 'real.'
Folks paying to see a known Mentalist may have personal experience and be looking for validation more that enlightenment.
Some may be confused over what a Mentalist does vs a conjuror, hypnotist, psychic, etc. - and need some gentle guidance in to theme.

So, would it not be prudent to start off a show with effect/demonstration designed to measure the extent of experience or expectations before plunging into some "deep stuff?"
You can use all of your empathic and non-verbal skills to gauge reaction to phrases and themes while building trust and focused attention.

I am amazed by a performer in any endeavor who has a set list of 'favorites' to inflict on all audiences and settings.
Even an actor who has an exact script to follow strives to make that evening's performance unique and special for the audience of the moment (professional or amateur).

Even more sad (to me) is evidence that many spectators today will be "more entertained" by poor performances they "can figure out" than good effects that require then to think or be involved emotionally.

Just what does a lay spectator in a general audience expect of Mentalist? Does that change if they know the performer is being paid?

I remember one performer of old who knew that he might be recognized at any time and be asked to perform. So, when entering a restaurant or store
he would drop key words or draw attention objects. He was alert to people's reactions and interests at all times - always "on" to discovering interest and expectations.
If he did perform later he was astounding as his selection of effect or story line was alive to that particular group of people.

Not sure that would work today with so many people lost in a cellphone, but a good peformer does not have to wait for the curtain to go up in order to connect ...
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



ShareBooks at www.eversway.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
WitchDocChris
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Inner circle
York, PA
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Quote:
On Oct 26, 2020, Jporter123 wrote:
WitchDocChris. I donít mean to start anything I just want clarification. You stated that the audience most likely does not put much thought into psychic abilities. If that is the case, then why does it matter if I read minds then bend metal? The audience has no idea if you can do that or not. And by said definition they donít know much anyways. I guess Iím trying to understand these points is all


Because when you switch up the ability being displayed without giving context for the switch, you are breaking the narrative that has been established. It's poor story telling, and poor stories don't engage and immerse. It's difficult for an audience to immerse themselves or engage in the performance if they are constantly trying to figure out what's going on.

In my experience it's often not even a fully conscious thought on the audience's part. Most of them won't actually think (or say), "Why does being able to read minds let him bend metal?" What will generally happen is they will walk away thinking, "I wonder how he did those tricks." Which, if that's goal that's fine, but that's not mentalism.

Quote:
On Oct 27, 2020, Socrates wrote:
How about no presentation at all, it seems to work for David Blaine.


David Blaine has plenty of presentation - he just doesn't have much spoken scripting. His presentation is in his body language, his clothing, his mannerism - his whole brand, really. All of that is calculated and done completely on purpose.
Christopher
Witch Doctor

Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
Mindpro
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Eternal Order
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He's also not a mentalist
Ray Pierce
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Inner circle
Los Angeles, CA
2448 Posts

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Quote:
On Oct 27, 2020, Mindpro wrote:
He's also not a mentalist


I agree, he tends to position himself as an "exceptional artist" which transcends any title we can define. Smart if you can pull it off.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
WitchDocChris
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Inner circle
York, PA
2524 Posts

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Quote:
On Oct 27, 2020, Mindpro wrote:
He's also not a mentalist


True.
Christopher
Witch Doctor

Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
The Magic Cafe Forum Index Ľ Ľ Penny for your thoughts Ľ Ľ Alternative premises for mentalism (9 Likes)
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