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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Once upon a time... » » Storytelling in Performance Mentalism (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

George Hunter
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I am experiencing an evolving interest in performing mentalism accompanied by narrative. Some magicians tell stories, and many Bizzarists, but not many mentalists (to my knowledge). I may have taken this route because I am a better storyteller than mentalist! An added source of interest comes from the discovery that, when an audience is engaged by the story as well as the effect, they NEVER ask "How did you do that?" An engaging narrative's power to move spectators out of their critical mindset has really surprised me.

I have read some of the important writings on narrative, from Aristotle's Poetics to current stuff like Jonathan Gottschall's The Storytelling Animal. I have read Burger and Neale's Magic and Meaning and Walt Anthony's Tales of Enchantment:The Art of Magic. Both are splendid. But I cannot read everything, AND I have found precious little on narrative in mentalism per se.

So I have four questions for this community:

1. Knowing my interest, what books on Storytelling are essential?

2. What sources (like books, articles, DVD's) reflect on narrative's possible role in performance mentalism?

3.What effects in mentalism might lend themselves to, and be enhanced by, narrative accompaniment?

4. Who are any mentalists who are doing some version of what I am kind of talking about?

Thanks for any thought you can give to this. I am, by the way, thinking about writing about this when I feel that I know almost enough.

George
friend2cptsolo
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If you feel free in sharing, Do you have already a storyline for a entire show? or do you have many individual stories that go with effects?
Also do you usually have the effect first and then fit a story into that? or have the story and fit an effect into the story?

I feel like I am on the more bizarre or storytelling end of the scale.....but also do a touch of mental effects; really these are all just labels. I often laugh about how these are marketed; Like a "NEW" mentalism effect and then you read the description or promo vid and the effect is really just a card trick.
So mentalism is really just about how you frame the effect, right?
So storytelling seems to be that framework that works well for you.
George Hunter
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Yes, I most often set a performance within a Victorian setting. I briefly describe what urban life was like in 19th century England, and the noble people and events of the time, and the (then) unprecedented experiences of the people--like literacy and plays, and the people's issues-- like sickness and security. Each effect then involves a more specific story within that Victorian narrative setting. I actually do a couple of bizarre effects--like Haunted Key and Sole Survivor.

Less often, the narrative setting is the J B Rhine story, with effects consistent with that setting.

The story-effect sequence of development can go either way. Sometimes I ask what effect in my (too many) purchases would fit a story or an experience that I hope for the spectators. With some effects, more than framing is involved. The revelation may take place within, or an the end, of the story.

George
friend2cptsolo
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I bet this gets more reactions then just playing the effects as a "mentalist". To me this sounds more like what bizarre magic is; but again that is just a label.
George Hunter
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I do not perform Halloween magic, nor try to scare people at all. But so far I have learned more about narrative-based performance from the bizarrists than the mentalists.

George
ProfessorMagicJMG
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Here's my storytelling magic list forum thread:

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......orum=161
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Clarke's 3rd Law

"Any sufficiently primitive technology can mystify a postmodern audience." - Green's Corollary to Clarke's 3rd Law
gomerel
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I also do Victorian era - in Gold Rush Old Sacramento. I talk about how that era was into spiritualism and use spirit slates to "contact the spirits." No elaborate story for that. I force a card and ask the spirits to name it on the slate. Plays very well.
Ba Ba Booey
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Mick Ayres has a wonderful monthly column in MUM magazine which focuses on the storytelling aspect of magic. People often think that bizarre magic has to be creepy, but basically, bizarre magic is magic with a story. There's a terrific book called "Devil of a Bar and Pub" that is full of stories with magic effects tossed in. The book has over 60 reports by the Scribe. A lot of them are from the Linking Ring, but many had never been published. I recommend getting a copy of this book. The stories themselves are entertaining, and there is such a variety of material found in its pages. The contributors include Larry White, Ed Solomon, Brother Shadow, and a host of other well-known bizarre magic story-tellers.
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