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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » In Defense of Theatrical Mentalism (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

lumberjohn
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In the last several years, I have read many books on close up mentalism, and most seem to focus on using everyday objects/props such as notecards, post-its, and other things that would seem natural to one's spectators. The idea seems to be that if the props are ordinary, then the effect itself will be more surprising and "mystifying." I have employed many of these techniques and have found this advice to be correct as far as it goes.

But more recently, I've been using more theatrical props such as those made by Rick Roth over at Outlaw Effects. I've found that these really enhance my presentations and make the effects more meaningful and powerful. I've been able to create a much greater aura of mystery and intrigue using an ancient coin or weathered book than a sharpie and a stack of notecards.

And so my question is whether the mentalism community has focused too much in the past on keeping the props simple and mundane. Mentalism is an intimate art and I would agree that the wrong props can destroy the mood that we are often trying to create. But I also believe that a more theatrical presentation with unusual, but intriguing props, can greatly enhance rather than detract from that mood and the overall performance. Any thoughts?
kriskraze
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Sounds like mental magic to me.
Philemon Vanderbeck
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Mentalism + strange props = bizarre.
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
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Andrew Sway
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Yes it could enhance the performance but I share the opinion of Mr. Vanderbeck

an if that is your personal style so it ok
Matt Pulsar
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Seems very compartmentalized to me. I only find myself using the term mentalism as a way to easily define the work I do to those in the performance world. I didn't think there was an adherence to a manifesto. Use props, do whatever, make it good and make it yours. Be yourself. Alexander "The Man Who Knows," was one of the greatest mentalists ever, he had a very elaborate show. Do what works.
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docsteve
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Completely agree with stuart above - why worry about how your 'classified' by other magicicans?
Whatever you do and use, just ask yourself: can the spectators describe the effect to someone who wasn't there in a line or two? e.g. "he pulled out 3 body parts supposedly from Jack the Ripper's last victim, and he already knew who was going to choose what! it was like we were being influenced by her spirit or something!"
v.s
"he just got 3 things off the table, and wrote a prediction right there; he KNEW what we were going to choose, even after changing our minds - it was like he was reading the way our eyes darted back and forth or something."

Both strong effects; both the SAME effect. What suits you best? Smile
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ALEXANDRE
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It's all in the presentation, really, whether with one of Rick's amazing products or a simple piece of paper.

Either way, In the end you don't want your props being the "star".
v_alfano
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I think that the best mentalism is propless. If you use ancient object, you are close to bizzarre. But in the Art, doesn't exist barrer...
mindsynced
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John,
Do what allows you to have the greatest impact on your audience. Entertain them by whatever means necessary. Don't sweat the categories. I understand what you are saying. For me, the venue and audience sometimes dictates the props or lack thereof.
Keith
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Vincent.Lynch
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I actually agree.. I think props on stage can make a greater mentalism.

Its just about how good the performer is at showing what mentalism is.
IAIN
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Avoid all labels, except on poison bottles...
I've asked to be banned
docsteve
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Quote:
On 2007-12-05 14:03, abraxus wrote:
Avoid all labels, except on poison bottles...


I seem to recall that old apothecary bottles containing potentially toxic substances were made with specific ridged sides just in case of a label falling off/fumbling for a quick swig in the dark...

...or am I just being too pedantic
(I'll get my coat)
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MentalistCreationLab
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As a mentalist, I prefer to travel very light and buy my props from a office store or gas station (cards). Mentalism is about presentation and performance rather than with other forms of magic where the props make a difference. Stage props in mental magic look quite normal and not like a Zig-Zag. I have always thought why would you put some one in a box like that anyway.
IAIN
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I semi-regularly use one old prop, its an original 1930s money-box, of a cartoony looking sargeant major type, will a pill-box type hat on...the money goes into the top slot of the hat...

but I've gimmicked it myself...because it is genuinely old, and people can handle it freely, I feel good using it, if I do a late night after dinner gig, I bring sargeant hampton along, tell the tale of the person who owned it, and what happened...

BUT! in my opinion, to produce several props one after the other (im not saying anyone does this, just rambling here) - would look very odd to me, and not in a good way...

on the other hand though, the victorians went through a phase of having little cabinets of curiousities to show their guests...i used to use an old chinese chest full of oddities, guests would pick one, I would tell the story behind it as I performed the effect...

so I reckon, unless there's a link between each, or an overall framework as to why you have these things, using a lot of them wouldnt look right to me...
I've asked to be banned
Christopher Taylor
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Carrying a very odd or intriguing looking item, which is casually seen by someone, might be a great way of starting/steering a conversation that can lead straight into a powerful “impromptu” routine.

Christopher
Christopher Taylor

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www.taylorimagineering.com

MAKING MENTALISM MORE IMPOSSIBLE
lumberjohn
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Actually, I was trying to get away from labels and just look at what might make the biggest impact on an audience. I'm not really concerned about whether the use of an ancient object would recharacterize my "mentalism" act as "mental magic" or "bizarre" magic. Of course the personality of the performer is the most important part of any mentalism act. The question I'm posing is whether the assumption that has been made by many mentalism texts, that simpler is necessarily better and stronger, is correct. Obviously, not everyone's performance style is suited to bringing out a dusty old book with a pentagram on the cover, just as (hopefully) not many of us sport Max Maven style dos. But I think that, all other things being equal, an object of inherent interest can open more doors in one's performance than purely mundane materials. Personally, I would not structure an entire act around such props, as in this area a little would likely go a long way. But I think their use has been neglected in the literature and I would like to see them get their do.
lumberjohn
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Make that, their "due."
burst
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Are the props in use causing you to concentrate on the tellings of why you have them, thus giving more dimension to your presentations? The more engaged they are, the more impact you create.

Don't take that the wrong the way. I'm just throwing something out there that may be worth thinking about.

/paul.f
doctorrigormorto
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I have PM'd you with my thoughts.
http://www.diablomanor.com
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Imagination is more important than Knowledge.

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Mind Guerrilla
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As long as you don't use playing cards. j/k
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