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Topic: Storytelling in Performance Mentalism
Message: Posted by: George Hunter (Feb 23, 2017 08:15PM)
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.

Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (Feb 26, 2017 08:47AM)
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.
Message: Posted by: George Hunter (Feb 26, 2017 12:24PM)
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.

Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (Feb 26, 2017 02:56PM)
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.
Message: Posted by: George Hunter (Feb 26, 2017 08:02PM)
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.

Message: Posted by: ProfessorMagicJMG (Mar 31, 2017 03:01AM)
Here's my storytelling magic list forum thread:

Message: Posted by: gomerel (Mar 31, 2017 10:24PM)
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.
Message: Posted by: Ba Ba Booey (Jul 23, 2017 10:50AM)
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.
Message: Posted by: Shoreline99 (Jan 18, 2019 05:09PM)
I always talk about my efforts. Modern mentorists are not psychics but probably they are thought to be real Sherlock Holmes and psychological artists. So, I will be honestly talking about why I was interested in mentalism and how I learned such techniques, I will tell them the importance of making efforts.
Message: Posted by: Sean (Jan 22, 2019 11:32AM)
Not a mentalist, but someone who uses story-telling a lot and is a wonderful performer (and a great guy)is Christian Cagigal. Look him up on YouTube.
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Feb 11, 2019 10:28AM)
Hello! May I (with some humility anyway) suggest my book which has withstood the test of time? “Tales of Enchantment: The Art of Magic” was written to enthuse and inspire the new Magical Storyteller and provide further thought and practical material for the seasoned performer. Here is a link to the book:

...And also a very recent review (thanks to G. H.)

“I bought and read Tales of Enchantment several years ago, and learned more with a recent second reading than before. I was now ready for it. A narrative approach to some of your magic is a great way to engage and move audiences, and if you are a story teller (or want to be), this book is indispensable.
Walt shows us how to engage people's imaginations, help them suspend disbelief, and even catalyze "transcendent feeling" within a performance. This is the author's approach to Magic Theater.
Walt shows how to magnify traditional magic effects, like the Linking Rings, or the Haunted Key, or the Egg Bag, or Miser's Dream, and many others by supporting the effect with a story, or even a poem. You may not actually copy his script for any effect, but you will learn how to craft your own.
This splendid text was ahead of its time. If it came out now, it would attract a stampede.”

Best of luck as you pursue this fascinating facet of Magic! Walt
Message: Posted by: Dr. O (Feb 12, 2019 09:25AM)
I'll second the recommendation for Tales of Enchantment. A most excellent book and contains probably the best routine based on the die box that I have seen.
Message: Posted by: Christopher Taylor (Jun 2, 2019 06:34PM)
I began my performing carrier as a professional storyteller and started to bring magic, and then mentalism, into my stories some three decades ago. I've made a LOT of mistakes and had some successes. The latter have been due largely to a study and application of the fundamental principles of TRADITIONAL ORAL STORYTELLING. What's the difference between the traditional approach and the modern approach to scripting magic? Well, to start, traditional Storytelling DOES NOT rely on written scripting (hey, it predates the written word!). If you want to learn Storytelling, I suggest you consider an alternative to just magic books. Go to the sources that reference the ancient approach. You will not find a finer example of such as source than Storytelling Process and Practice by Livo and Riezo (1986). It's an essential text on the topic. Taking those principles and applying them directly to mentalism or magic does not quite work however; you need to learn to transition between the two characters that you will play when adding story to your mentalism: the old character of the Magi and the even older character of the Teller.

As it happens, I am writing a book on the topic of applying the traditional oral storytelling approach to developing stories in magic and mentalism performance. I hope to have it ready for publication (by H&R Magic Books) by the end of the year.

Christopher Taylor
Message: Posted by: Penduluminary (Jun 3, 2019 12:05PM)

Very interesting. I'm genuinely looking forward to this. Do keep us posted on progress.