February 2019 Chatter

Posted at 31/01/19 - 05:09 PM

Last month for the first time I attended The Event, which is a day of mentalism run by Joshua Jay, Andi Gladwin and Luke Jermay as a forerunner to The Session convention which takes place over the following two days.

Although I have always incorporated some elements of mentalism in my shows, and indeed have devised quite a lot of this type of material, it’s not an area of entertainment that I major on, and so I thought it would be interesting to get involved with a day dedicated just to this branch of our art.

So I sat through a number of lectures, shows and talks during the day, and one thing which came out of this and which surprised me a little, was that some hardcore mentalists seem to have a bit of a chip on their shoulder when it comes to magicians.

I got the impression that for some people, magic is the poor relation, the lesser commodity, and that mentalism is the ‘real thing’ and is far more worthy or important.

Now as with any branch of entertainment, there are always those who perhaps believe their own publicity a bit too much and who therefore overstate their own importance, but I must admit I hadn’t realised the antipathy that exists for some mentalists when it comes to their magic brethren.

I suppose this attitude is no worse than that held by some magicians who try to claim that all mentalists are boring! After all, there are clearly many different ways to present mind magic and you only have to look at the legions of high profile commercial performers who make great impact with it to realise that if they were all tedious they wouldn’t be successful.

I know that there are some mentalists who try their best to distance themselves from magic as much as possible. They do away with all but the most rudimentary of props, even refusing to use regular playing cards as they feel this smacks too much of tricks and they aspire to a higher goal. But is this really all necessary?

If you are talking about entertaining lay people, I can’t imagine that most of them are less impressed if a deck of cards is used, for instance. I know from my own work that apparently reading the mind of a spectator to reveal a chosen card can leave quite an impression, and the fact that the spectator took a card from a deck first really doesn’t seem to matter to them.

I fully appreciate that there are those purists who want to give the impression that they really can read minds, and I can see that if you could really do the deed, you wouldn’t bother with a physical card selection, you would just get the spectator to think of one instead. But in practical terms, I still see no reason why the use of cards will diminish the strength of the ‘mind reading’ for the average onlooker.

Purists also state that you should never mix mentalism and magic. Again, for most lay audiences I suspect that the distinction between the two forms of entertainment does not exist, it’s all just part of a baffling series of events, and whether we class it as ‘mentalism’ or ‘magic’ is of no relevance to them. So come on you mental guys, lighten up a bit, what you do and what the magicians do all has a valid place.

Author: Mark Leveridge

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