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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Has walkaround and propless taken over? (47 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Michael Zarek
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Quote:
On Sep 13, 2017, Martin Pulman wrote:

You can certainly enjoy mentalism if you are not a professional. But if you do not perform mentalism professionally it would be rather odd to consider yourself a mentalist, don't you think? Would someone who enjoys reciting Shakespeare for their friends and family consider themselves an actor?

I have performed professionally as both an actor and a mentalist (far, far more of the former). But as I am currently choosing to perform neither I don't consider myself to be either an actor or a mentalist.


I rarely perform professionally (mostly due to choice and not having time) and yet I do consider myself a mentalist.
Your comparison is slightly flawed. I would agree that someone who occasionally recites plays would not be considered and actor and yet if that person often volunteered to perform in small plays for no money but just because they enjoy the art, that person in my eyes can be called an actor.

Same situation here, if someone just likes to perform for strangers and friends alike and it's one of their main hobbies, I would consider them a mentalist.
Maybe an amature mentalist but a mentalist nevertheless.
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Matt Pulsar
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This is the first few paragraphs of "Pillars of Destiny" by Matt Pulsar

"There is a movement amongst the younger generation of mentalists, stretching the horizon of what can be done without writing anything down, or using any props.
(There is a lot of amazing thinking on this subject and I have dabbled with much of the thinking.) Most of the work is not exactly new, but expanding on previous ideas, from branching anagrams to psychological forces and actual body language reading.

I believe this shift towards, and the popularity of this perspective has a lot to do with the prevalence of television shows such as The Mentalist and Lie To Me, as well as Derren Brown and the existence of NLP in the modern zeitgeist. Whereas most mentalists of the past come to the art from a background in magic, many modern mentalists are finding the art in their search for the real thing.

When they are told to read Annemann and Corinda’s 13 Steps they are often confused and disappointed, it is when they finally find work that uses prop-less methods that they feel they are getting something close to what they were looking for to begin with. The interesting thing is that they often then realize that while many of these methods can be powerful, most of them are not 100% sure fire. This then leads them back to the classics."

There are also people who come to this art from reading books like "The Game." The idea that one can read minds or influence others is a fascinating thing. Many people will come to the art form today, which is now more accessible than it ever was before due to the internet and YouTube (Scam School), from the perspective of wanting to be able to do these things, achieve these feats, with absolutely no interest in being a stage performer. I imagine that is even more prevalent in the magical illusion side of things. When I used to run a magic show it was a rare thing to have people were workers and especially stage performers compared to the many many hobbyists or those new to the art of magic.

I like the effects we are now calling prop-less and the explorations they give, but they are only a small tool in my tool box. However as far as the audience is concerned I think many of the oldest methods still play much stronger than an anagram. The art of pulling off an anagram or something similar to not seem to be what it is is a lot more difficult and rare than people let or or seem to realise.
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Martin Pulman
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Quote:
On Sep 13, 2017, Michael Zarek wrote:
Quote:
On Sep 13, 2017, Martin Pulman wrote:

You can certainly enjoy mentalism if you are not a professional. But if you do not perform mentalism professionally it would be rather odd to consider yourself a mentalist, don't you think? Would someone who enjoys reciting Shakespeare for their friends and family consider themselves an actor?

I have performed professionally as both an actor and a mentalist (far, far more of the former). But as I am currently choosing to perform neither I don't consider myself to be either an actor or a mentalist.


I rarely perform professionally (mostly due to choice and not having time) and yet I do consider myself a mentalist.
Your comparison is slightly flawed. I would agree that someone who occasionally recites plays would not be considered and actor and yet if that person often volunteered to perform in small plays for no money but just because they enjoy the art, that person in my eyes can be called an actor.

Same situation here, if someone just likes to perform for strangers and friends alike and it's one of their main hobbies, I would consider them a mentalist.
Maybe an amature mentalist but a mentalist nevertheless.

When someone calls Daniel day Lewis an actor, I think they are aware that they are talking about something different than what Uncle Bill does with his local am-dram group. Both acting and mentalism are bloody hard professions to do well, and only the talented will ever truly prosper. I think we should respect all professional performing artists and not think we have the right to claim their status for ourselves because we enjoy performing for our friends.
paul180
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Before addressing the propless mentalism question, I'd like to talk about walk around mentalism.

1. Those thinking walkaround mentalism isn't "professional" might want to read Mark Striving's work on the subject?
2. While it may not be exactly "table hopping" to do individual readings for everyone at a party or social gathering, it certainly is professional.
3. Some of the most long lasting impressions we as mentaist might make on our Participants will be the ones we do one on one.

While I have worked the stage perse, I flourish up close and personal. The connections I can make through intimate contact is to me the only way for me to perform. The light touch of the hand , or to caress a cheek even to palm a forehead all lend themselves to an intimacy unable to be appreciated when working the stage.

As to the propless question I'm not sure who itwas or the exact quote but it goes something like "whenever you pick up a prop, you bring down your show". Now I don't know if that's altogether true as Larry Becker seems to have made a good living using props but I do think that even if one is using props they should be natural and organic. Normal items that can be found anywhere. In that way the illusion is still than of proplessness. As to propless techniques ie psych f, anagrams, cold reading and the like, the more of those things we have in our arsenal, the better prepared we are to perform on a moments notice. Just like a magician who must be on at all times how can we really sell the whole "planets are not in alignment" thing to explain our inability to read minds? No going propless prepares the mentalist for any situation that require him to demonstrate his abilities on the spot.

Having said all that, I believe a show comprised of just propless work would be comparable to a magic act of just card tricks. It could be great but only if you like card tricks. Brown would mix things up and his stage show has many so called props. So to get all cought up in some kind of purest thinking that one is not a true mentalist unless he goes propless is poppycock.
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Michael Zarek
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Quote:
On Sep 13, 2017, Martin Pulman wrote:

When someone calls Daniel day Lewis an actor, I think they are aware that they are talking about something different than what Uncle Bill does with his local am-dram group. Both acting and mentalism are bloody hard professions to do well, and only the talented will ever truly prosper. I think we should respect all professional performing artists and not think we have the right to claim their status for ourselves because we enjoy performing for our friends.


Vast majority of magicians don't perform paid gigs and still call themselves magicians (and get called that by people that know them).

You're saying I have no right to call myself a mentalist (Which to be fair, I rarely do and yet people refer to me in that way) despite practicing for over 5 years (magic before that), having performed countless times and owning many publications on the subject.

I think as magicians and mentalists we tend to take ourselves way to seriously. Saying "Ow no, you can't associate yourself with us because you're not doing this professionally" is silly... especially in the context of doing tricks.

I spent way more money on mentalism then I ever got back from performing it, and that's because it being something I like, I have no problem spending money to learn an effect if I'll get the enjoyment of being able to perform it in return.
Doing walk around and stage is fun but to me it's way more fun to just sit with a couple of people and perform in a very casual way without having any restrictions as to how long I can take and what effects I can perform.

And that's why I (and I'm sure many others) choose to do it that way.
Reader discretion is advised.
Martin Pulman
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Quote:
On Sep 13, 2017, Michael Zarek wrote:
Quote:
On Sep 13, 2017, Martin Pulman wrote:

When someone calls Daniel day Lewis an actor, I think they are aware that they are talking about something different than what Uncle Bill does with his local am-dram group. Both acting and mentalism are bloody hard professions to do well, and only the talented will ever truly prosper. I think we should respect all professional performing artists and not think we have the right to claim their status for ourselves because we enjoy performing for our friends.


I think as magicians and mentalists we tend to take ourselves way to seriously. Saying "Ow no, you can't associate yourself with us because you're not doing this professionally" is silly... especially in the context of doing tricks.

No one said that. Why make things up? As a short hand way of referring to everyone here who enjoys and studies mentalism there is no harm in calling yourself a 'mentalist" or a "magician". That's no different than someone saying "our Jeannie is a singer" when they mean she likes to sing at parties. They don't mean she shares the same profession as Barbara Streisand.

You have the "right" to claim equal status with people who perform professionally if you wish. No one is stopping you.
Michael Zarek
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Quote:
On Sep 13, 2017, Martin Pulman wrote:

No one said that. Why make things up? As a short hand way of referring to everyone here who enjoys and studies mentalism there is no harm in calling yourself a 'mentalist" or a "magician". That's no different than someone saying "our Jeannie is a singer" when they mean she likes to sing at parties. They don't mean she shares the same profession as Barbara Streisand.

You have the "right" to claim equal status with people who perform professionally if you wish. No one is stopping you.


That's all I meant, I thought you were implying the opposite.

The mentalism/magic scene is different then that of singers and actors.
Most of us are hobbyest and yet it doesn't stop us from freery interacting with those that do it professionally, we go to the same conventions, read the same books.
Obviously those who choose to do it professionally deserve respect and yet there should also be no discrimination against those that don't (not implying that this is what you meant).
Reader discretion is advised.
WitchDocChris
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Personally I'm kind of happy that there's so much propless material being put out. It's much easier for me to control my impulsive purchase habits when there's nothing I'm interested in being pushed in front of me every day.

I don't think it's a problem. Anyone who wants to do "pure" mentalism can simply ignore those releases they don't like. What's it matter what the magic/mentalism market is flooded with? Personally, I focus on trying to create a unique and mysterious experience for my audience. If a performer is doing that, it won't matter what other performers are doing.
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IAIN
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I've gathered some comments, potentially re-written or added to some...thanks everyone...

so maybe times have changed, a lot of people in the current time feel that its a change for the worse - yet that "thing" abides, it continues, and more often than not - survives just as it ever was... if you read any amount of older pamphlets and booklets you'll read the same thing. the writers and performers of the time saying "magicians ruining it", "mentalists are arrogant and boring", "people release things just for the sake of it", "X has ripped off Y and knows it"...and all the usual stuff...

anyway - here's some handpicked comments/thoughts:

most users/consumers of the Café only perform for friends and family

always wanting to be prepared vs selling your show

the worry that propless feels like a logic puzzle above all else

walk-around or table-hopping isn't really mentalism and is destroying traditional mentalism

there's potential for a fully rounded character to do walk-around, if the focus and delivery is specific and singular (to a degree)

close-up mentalism can feel far more intimate and real, as apposed to buying a ticket and seeing a stage show with its lighting and music

it hasn't taken over - and maybe its stage is dying out and close up/walkaround is flourishing (this may be area/country dependent)

how much do the labels matter?

i think there's a difference between propless and things like prevaricator - not all propless is created equally

corporate (uk) tends to be mix and mingle

propless kind of doesn't matter, as its performed mainly in social situations (but not all)

you don't have to be a professional full-timer to contribute to mentalism

you can't contribute to mentalism if you're not a full-time performer

does professional equate to full-time these days?

we take ourselves too seriously, and sometimes not seriously enough...

why does it matter if someone thinks the market is being flooded with propless effects?
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The thing with propless... You CANNOT judge it's value by the fact that it impresses or "fools" other mentalists! The mindset of someone who performs mentalism is very different from the lay person. It's the same with musicians. They tend to be impressed by musical technical virtuosity more than the average person. Why is obvious: they know how hard it is to play the instrument in a certain way. Non-musicians have some appreciation for technical ability but are much, much more focused on how the music makes them feel. That is the same with mentalism. So what impresses US is not necessarily what will impress real world audiences. I would say that much of the propless stuff captures the attention of mentalists because of impressive mental gymnastics that much of it requires, NOT because the effect is any better.

Given two mindreading scenarios... one having something written down and another without anything written down but employing a bunch of confusing language and extended procedure, I will take the billet route EVERY SINGLE TIME. Because through presentation you can erase the significance (if not the memory) of the writing, but try to erase the long, convoluted and often arbitrary procedure. Good luck with that.

Regarding walk around, I posted this on FB a few weeks ago...

"Newly discovered interest in "walk around mentalism"... Worked a gig today for a corporate VIP room. First closeup or walk around gig I've done in some time. I THOUGHT I hated these types of gigs, but on the way home several things occurred to me...

For one, I got to work with 30-40 people... I mean, do a routine directly with each of these folks. On stage, I work with maybe a dozen people in an hour show. I repeated certain routines a lot... which means I got to practice perfecting those routines in a very concentrated way.

Another bonus? No PA to setup! No mics, no lights, no technical worries. That is really a nice benefit.

Yes, pay-wise I took less... about 20% less. But all I had to do was walk into the room with my case and off to the races!

Last time I did one of these types of gigs was probably 2014. I've grown as a performer, both from the technical side and entertainment side, so I think that made me more comfortable "up close". I came to love stage because of the distance it gave me and the "cover" for sneaky bits.

In any case, I think I will be looking for more of this type of work. I'm glad I didn't turn the gig down or else I wouldn't have discovered that it suits me well, now at least."
WitchDocChris
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I think walk around offers an experience that can't be given on stage. At least, not the scale of it.

As Rob said, when walking around you can work with many people and give each and every one of them an incredible experience. You also get to hone a routine very quickly if needs be. It can be intimate, unique, and tailor made for each person. That's what mentalists do - we employ systems. We don't have to have the same presentation for every person, we can take a basic routine and tweak it for each person and make it unique and interesting to them as individuals. I also think it's easier to bang out more gigs if you're a strolling performer. I'm not a fan of table hopping, personally, but that's just me.

The stage, I think, offers a better environment for artistic shows, though. There can be over arching themes and stories. You can take a little more artistic license with scripting and build up and such.

I think both are valid and valuable. I'm hired to do strolling performance for a festival in Ithica in October that I'm really excited about. Also a few of my best stage/parlor gigs have come from strolling or casual performances I've done.

I think one of the defining characteristics of mentalism is the degree to which a character is developed and embraced. To that end, I feel one should have things they can do off stage - which would be a close up situation usually. That way they are always keeping up the illusion of their character's abilities on stage. It all ties together to create the best experience for the audiences.
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David Thiel
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The term "walkabout" or "strolling" -- especially when applied to mentalism is misunderstood. It implies something lightweight..."drive by mentalism" if you will. To me the term simply means that I am performing for a very small group of people...that the "stage" is smaller. With this format a savvy performer can create amazing moment after amazing moment for audiences because he can tailor what he does to THEM. There is also an intimate feeling with walkabout or close-up that isn't achievable on stage.

I've found that, when I am hired to do 'walkabout' at an event, that after a few moments people come to where I am to see what's going on. Most of the time 'walkabout' turns into 'parlor.'

"Propless" is a term that's really starting to bug me. IF a performer bases his decisions as to what to perform on whether or not his effects are 'propless' he's missing the point. The issue isn't 'propless' or not...the issue is ENTERTAINING or not...INVOLVING or not...AMAZING or not.

I am a huge proponent of Col* Rea*ing and CMR etc -- but they have their places and I do them when the time and place are right to perform them. I am no more concerned about getting busted doing a bil*et routine than I am about doing something 'propless' -- because I have worked very hard to be able to perform these routines properly.

Finally: if a performer is doing 'propless' because he doesn't want the audience to be able to deconstruct how he did it (despite the clumsy fumbling about, 23 questions or over complicated premises) he is missing the point. IF the audience is working on figuring out how you did that 'trick' you've already lost.

The intent, on stage or close up...propless or...well 'propped' I guess...is to ENTERTAIN and AMAZE. The audience doesn't care HOW you do it. They just hope you will.

David
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John C
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Just because someone can read minds doesn't mean they have a good memory. So even with propless you may still need paper and a pencil.
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Robb
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Agree with what you're saying Chris. They are different beasts. I still prefer stage and always will, but I did find benefits to the walk around context.
WitchDocChris
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Quote:
On Sep 13, 2017, David Thiel wrote:
I've found that, when I am hired to do 'walkabout' at an event, that after a few moments people come to where I am to see what's going on. Most of the time 'walkabout' turns into 'parlor.'

IF the audience is working on figuring out how you did that 'trick' you've already lost.


I agree with David's post completely. Just wanted to emphasize those two points more - The first one because that happens to me, too. It is not uncommon for me to end up accidentally gathering a crowd when I start performing for even a single person.

But mostly it's that last sentence. If the performer hasn't engaged the audience enough that they don't even want to know how it's being done, the performer needs to work more on the presentation.
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Martin Pulman
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I think prop-less is just the latest attempt to create mentalism that feels as if it is real mind-reading -a desire which surely goes back to the very roots of the art? The problem is that most of it is very badly conceived and presented.
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Personally, I have no disdain for walkaround.

If a person is keeping audiences happy and providing value to his/her client, that's what matters to me. It doesn't matter if they are doing balloon animals, reading minds, reading palms, telling jokes, or leading party games. It doesn't matter if they are funny, fascinating, mysterious, or deadpan. If they do right by their audience, there is room enough in this world for them.
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Glad this is still going... and I don't apologise for any devil's advocate playing...

to be brutally honest - I don't care what any of you do... its not like I can stop anyone from doing any of it, no one can, not really...

what I find interesting though is, is how protective people are over something that they have a love for, but aren't a pro/full timer... so maybe we if focused more on the passion and love for something that is intimate and creative, then that's a better, more positive thing, rather than saying "if you do this thing that I don't approve of, then you're destroying the art..." - that is, ultimately, nothing more than an opinion...

I think for those that kinda lump everything into a set, a bit of magic, some mind reading, a comedy book test - no matter what, its going to be seen as anything other than a group of tricks put together that doesn't make much sense...

I think that those that rush in and insist that everything has to be short and snappy and to the point, end up not allowing mentalism to b r e a t h e and have a little bit of gravitas for want of a better word... it will lack rythmn and variety...

I think that those who say "its not mentalism if you do xyz" have a point, and IF you want to perform CLASSIC mentalism, then you will have to abide to the rules to a greater degree...the bottom line will always be "is this real? is this what it feel likes? how does this happen?"

however, what I also believe is, is that with the right structure and thought - that there's more than enough room to create something else, that still feels authentic - but also different...which is also hardest to do, creatively (not talking about the business side of things)...

I know some think that you offer the market what it wants, you tailor your act to suit the business to make money - and I understand why if you its purely about the business side...

I also know (because I've seen it) that there's also room to create something more left of centre, and still make a living, it might be less commercial, less business focused in a way - but more than enough to satisfy your artistic needs as well as financial...however, it also needs to be more guarded and rigorous - in the sense that you can fool yourself into thinking that what you're doing is great, when its failing on several levels...

ultimately - all these labels and opinions (which sometimes get presented as facts), how much do they matter? is it just on forums and behind each other's back? do we seek that much approval from others? what's really important?
Martin Pulman
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Quote:
On Sep 13, 2017, IAIN wrote:
Glad this is still going... and I don't apologise for any devil's advocate playing...

I think for those that kinda lump everything into a set, a bit of magic, some mind reading, a comedy book test - no matter what, its going to be seen as anything other than a group of tricks put together that doesn't make much sense...

I think that those that rush in and insist that everything has to be short and snappy and to the point, end up not allowing mentalism to b r e a t h e and have a little bit of gravitas for want of a better word... it will lack rythmn and variety...

ultimately - all these labels and opinions (which sometimes get presented as facts), how much do they matter?

Are those opinions,Iain, or are you presenting them as facts? Everything anyone posts here is simply an opinion. It's a forum. people are free to express their opinion as long as they keep it polite (I presume).
IAIN
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