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  1. #1
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    Introduction

    Greetings all,

    The name is Mark and I'm a beginner in mentalism. I decided to join this forum because I've been studying for a while now, but could really use some guidance. I had figured I'd leave that judgement to the forum and hopefully get some feedback. I've read on other forums that it's a good idea to find a mentor. Currently, I'm taking my time making my way through steps 1, 4, and 6 of Corinda -- as these are the steps that currently interest me. For a few years I had researched, here and there, a variety of sources of mentalism, but never really sat down and put 'the work' in.



    My (mentalism) reading list consists of the following in no particular order:
    1) The Amateur Magician's Handbook - as suggested by Bob Cassidy in his Artful Mentalism
    2) Strong Magic - I figured this would help with stagecraft
    3) Magic and Showmanship ^
    4) EB's switchcraft - to complement my learning steps 4 and 6
    5) PMM - I'm really starting to gut it for ideas for routines
    6) Craig Browning's Intro to Mentalism - I've been reading and rereading this for months now and allow me to say that it has been a terrific guide and has really encouraged me to dig into my mentalism studying and find the gems in what a few consider "outdated." Each day I spend a little time going back over the lessons in this and find myself more confident (in the route I'm taking) than yesterday.

    In case anyone was curious about what sources I have available to me, other than the above:
    1) Unreal - Bruce Bernstein
    2) The Alchemical Tools - Paul Brook
    3) The Nailwriter Anthology - Thomas Baxter
    4) Maximum Entertainment
    5) Scryer's Band of Readers
    6) The Manchurian Approach
    7) Reality is Plastic
    8) 13 Steps - Richard Osterlind
    9) Prevaricator - Patrick Redford
    10) Vol. 4 ETMMM - Richard Osterlind
    11) Palm Reading Secrets - Dean Montalbano
    12) Vol 3. Master Billet Course
    of the over

    Getting back to guidance... I'm having trouble coming up with my persona and pretext, some trouble with some steps in Corinda, where to start with scripting, and a load of questions for "what else might be out there" or "how else could I rework this 'n that" in mentalism. I have a burning passion for psychology, but I feel like the 'psychological manipulator' persona is a tad overused, but then again maybe that's the only thing that "fits" my personality. I don't feel comfortable making claims or even what they would be or what I would talk about. I guess what I need help with most is context. The context of my learning, constructing, and then performing.

    I look forward to hearing from you all and contributing. Thanks for taking the time to read this rant.

    - Mark
    Last edited by MentalMark; 08-30-2015 at 02:40 AM.

  2. #2
    ChristopherThisse's Avatar :: Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by MentalMark View Post
    Getting back to guidance... I'm having trouble coming up with my persona and pretext, some trouble with some steps in Corinda, where to start with scripting, and a load of questions for "what else might be out there" or "how else could I rework this 'n that" in mentalism. I have a burning passion for psychology, but I feel like the 'psychological manipulator' persona is a tad overused, but then again maybe that's the only thing that "fits" my personality. I don't feel comfortable making claims or even what they would be or what I would talk about. I guess what I need help with most is context. The context of my learning, constructing, and then performing.

    - Mark
    There's nothing wrong with starting from a base that you are at least a little comfortable with, then building the character from there. I don't think anyone starts out knowing exactly what character they are going to portray. My original character was a time-traveling psychic, it has since evolved to be a modern day witchdoctor. Though I do occasionally make references to time travel.

    Yes, the psychological manipulator is a bit played out since Derren Brown got big. However, there are still guys out there making it suit them. Paul Brook has a very psychological way of performing. Ben Cardall is the Sherlockian Mentalist. Colin Cloud is the Forensic Mind Reader. Huh - I just realized how many of the guys I look up to are British. So it's possible to define it further to suit you better.

    When you do mentalism you are somewhat restricted to take either a scientific path, or a mystical path. I wouldn't say that's completely set in stone, but if you don't decide you're doing one or the other it tends to muddy the presentations. Actually, Derren Brown has just done a Penguin Live lecture and he talks about this. I recommend it. Regardless, you need to find a claim and study it enough to be able to hold a conversation with other people who have studied it. That means if you want to say you're reading palms, you darn well better be ready to talk shop with palmists. If you claim to be using psychological methods, you better be able to hold your own in a conversation about psychology.

    So! How do you choose a character? First - think of something you think would be really cool to be able to do. An easy source of inspiration is comic book characters and literature. I'm heavily influenced by Neil Gaiman and the Urban Fantasy genre, as well as Abney Park's music and the steampunk scene in general. Throw in a healthy dash of Burning Man, and a sprinkling of Nikola Tesla and there you go - That's my character.

    Sometimes it helps to find a single piece that is something your character would wear or carry or do. I can honestly say that the cornerstone of my character developed from a single routine. My Energy Transfer routine. That gave me the desire to emphasize connection, energy and the borders between science and mysticism. I started wearing simple, black clothing to keep the emphasis on the volunteers instead of me, but I also started wearing a black coat with bold red sections to stand out as an unusual character when not performing. On stage I usually end up removing it. From that routine I knew the flavor of the presentations for everything else I did. From there I built a show and truly became The Witchdoctor.

    So think about what you want to do. Imagine yourself on stage in front of your audience, doing a great show. What's in that show? What's your idealized 'perfect' routine? What does it look like? What do you look like on stage? Think about those things, and then develop from there. And understand - it's probably going to take years to really develop the character until it fits you well.
    http://www.ellusionist.com/boffo-pdf-by-christopher-thisse.html

    The HP Lovecraft of Bizarre Magic

  3. #3
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    Hi Christopher,

    Thank you for the response! That definitely helped clear up some issues I'm having. Looks like I will just keep plugging away and do and say what makes me comfortable until my skills are more established. I watched Derren's "Infamous" a couple months ago, right away I noticed the muddy water you mentioned. He started off very strong and then somewhere (I felt it was an abrupt turn) dipped into a more "magical" performance -- as oppose to the more mental/psychological illusions. It made sense for Derren, but if I felt a little awkward following him after that strong psychological/suggestive atmosphere intro, it made me question how it made the audience feel. Were they as lost as me by the end of it? Granted, it's Derren, he's almost always entertaining to watch and personable.

    I saw the pre-order for his lecture in December. I was really excited to read that it's about performing, today. Needless to say, I'm already committed to the purchase. Again, thank you for the feedback! I haven't entirely been at a loss, but self-teaching and having no one to bounce ideas off of or to answer questions, definitely made me ask myself "Am I doing it right?" Or "Am I wasting too much time on this?" Your reply definitely makes sense. Maybe I shouldn't be too worried about it just yet. I've been planning to test out a few routines on a group of friends and acquaintances - the ones I've made impressions on using purely psychological forces (which are pretty powerful when they hit) and it definitely established me as 'a little different.' I was introduced to someone by one of the people I plan to perform for, as "this is my friend -- the psychologist I was telling you about." Word spreads fast, so I'll keep that in mind when constructing my character and claims.

    I'll admit, I laughed out loud when you mentioned Tesla, because of its sheer brilliance! And I would have never thought of that. It's a balance, like you said, of science, mysticism, and a little quirkiness. Definitely put it in perspective for me and I much appreciate you taking the time to talk about and share it! I look forward to chatting more throughout the forum.

    - Mark

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