There is no argument about the dilemma faced by many newcomers to mentalism. Are mental effects best presented as natural phenomena of the mind, or as examples of rare paranormal or supernatural abilities?
Most of today's mentalists use the "mental skill" as opposed to the "psychic gift" approach, but only rarely are they particularly consistent about it. Even Joseph Dunninger, the pre-eminent mentalist of the twentieth century, sometimes made conflicting claims. While he stated that his thought reading skills were "scientific" and not those of a fortune-teller or psychic, his promotional materials often gave a different impression.
For example, he claimed that he discovered while in grammar school that he could pick up thoughts from his classmates, thus enabling him to pass tests without studying. (He simply read the thoughts of students who knew the answers!) He stated that as a child he initially believed everyone could "hear" other people's thoughts and didn't think there was anything particularly unusual about it. Thus, he impliedly made the claim that the foundation of his ability was a "gift" rather than the result of what he also claimed to be a scientific application of psychological principles.
Since many of today's most successful performers are just as vague in their claims, it is clear that the successful presentation of mentalism has nothing to do with its premise. Whether you present mentalism as the expert use of body language and applied psychology to create the appearance of psychic phenomena, or if you sell it as a power you were born with, both claims are simply examples of premises upon which a presentation of mentalism can be constructed. Presentational skills, both physical and in the area of stagecraft, are what determine the believability and effectiveness of the performance.
A familiarity with the basic principles of staging and presentation is an essential skill to any performer or public speaker. In the field of mentalism, the application of these principles can also facilitate the sometimes difficult, risky or illogical moves that are often required to accomplish a particular effect.
In this ebook, Bob will focus on essential staging and acting techniques that are prerequisites for a successful presentation of any sort. While some of these approaches are taught in any good acting or public speaking course, others are unique to the professions of magic and mentalism. Among them are a few of Bob's favorite techniques. They will enable you to perform effects that many performers avoid because they are either often difficult to execute, too contrived, or just too risky to get away with.
The companion ebook is Working It.
1st edition 2004; 23 pages.
word count: 9559 which is equivalent to 38 standard pages of text