In my style, it’s not the best idea to directly claim psychic abilities. I prefer to create mystery and leave my audience and spectators to draw their own conclusions. They use their own beliefs and personal experiences to label my performance.
The word “psychic” can mislabel your work and can create unnecessary resistance for your performance (at least in my experience happens that). My desired result, gives the spectator a moment of entertaining mystery, and a memory for the rest or their life. The Humanistic model of performance is my way to accomplish this.
My inspiration comes from various fields (mystery arts, theater, psychology, philosophy and other places), but the most important is Carl Roger´s writing on psychotherapy.
Since I was a child, I had an interest in communication, performing and connecting with people. I will be a qualified psychologist in a couple of years, so I study different theories and aspects of this practice. I have discovered several powerful concepts that can be of great help to your own development and understanding. Maybe for some this will be very intuitive, but it´s always necessary to create conscious awareness of unconscious knowledge to create better insights.
The 3 Conditions
Carl Rogers defines a correct environment for psychotherapy as 3 specific conditions:
1. Empathy: Be inside the mind and see thru the eyes of the client. See the world like him and as popular wisdom says: “put yourself in the shoes of others”
2. Unconditional Positive Regard: Without prejudging, accept the other.
3. Congruence/ Genuinity: A real interest about your client.
Now, what if we change the word “psychotherapy” to “perform” or “reading” and “client” to participate?
Obviously our performance isn’t a therapy session, but I believe that applying these modified concepts to our art can create a powerful moment for our participants. One that can be beneficial for them. With this attitude towards your participant, the performance will be centered on him rather than on you, which will allow him to feel good.
We can learn several theoretical tools to enhance our own performance. NLP concepts (engage your communication skills in a visual, auditory and kinesthetic way. Cover all possible paths to really being a successful communicator. Be aware of your verbal and non verbal language, etc
) If you analyze those 3 simple conditions that Rogerian Therapy give us, you will discover that they are not based on pure knowledge from books. Rather, an attitude and a predisposition to accept the human that is in front of you, in an honest and genuine caring way. To understand that he is person with the same insecurities as you. That he wants to gain something special in his life.
Being empathic isn’t just a natural gift that comes with your own personality, rather an ability that can be sharpened through your experience, and really start to communicate with as many people as you can. You should always try to connect with them and see the world with their eyes. Let him know that will all be fine and that a short moment of sharing will not embarrass him. In that way you participant will feel your true attitude towards him.
It’s essential in this model, to see the participant as a valid person to share with, on that precise moment. Let him know with your communication, that even when he “commits a mistake”, everything can be fixed and that the performance isn’t a rigid. It’s something that both performer and participant create.
One of the most important aspects on to approach is being genuine. But how on earth can we “learn to be genuine”? That’s kind of a paradox, right?
Well, at the beginning you will need to amplify the natural positive attitude that you have for your participant (even when isn’t too much). After that, you can focus on that positive part, and start from there. Several times I work in places where some members of my audience aren’t cooperative or just don’t really care about the performance. In these moments, it’s very hard to genuinely care if the caring isn’t reciprocal. Whenever I push hard in an intelligent way, I see good results.
But don’t try to be Mr. Nice. That could be very negative towards your goal, and can create resistance. Find the correct balance.
For me the solution comes from our vocation as a performer. Not everyone can be a performer. Your natural desire to share in your own performance, needs to move you to be genuine.
A therapist enjoys seeing people improve their lives, or resolve some issues, and become a better human beings. Maybe we can enjoy the mystery that we can create, and appreciate the participant for the other personal goals that you have as artist?
Fighting your EGO
Now, let’s face it, our EGO is huge, and it’s very difficult not to ask for attention. With this “participant centered performance” you may not receive the applause and attention that you want. My personal experience, when applying these ideas on performance, taught me that:
It doesn’t matter, because you will still gain recognition as a miracle worker for the simple fact that without you, this awesome paranormal thing could not be performed or perceived.
So when you read minds, you center all the attention on how skillful your participant is, to send thoughts and visualize in his mind. However, at the end, your audience will give YOU the credit for the abilities (real, theatrical or both).
Putting this in practice.
Let’s take a simple example of this model, applied to a basic magic trick:
Predicting one selected object amongst a group.
One way, is performing this trick with the focus on the successful prediction due to the abilities of the performer, just to show-off.
Question:Who is the center of the entire event?
Answer: You as performer.
What if our prediction of a selected object on the table, isn’t about us as the great mindreaders. Perhaps it could be the spectator and their intuition, and how they, with their powerful imagination/unconscious, could perceive the written object?
What if you use some playing cards, tarot cards, ESP cards or 7 Chakra stones, and give your performance an interesting inherent meaning. Ending with a reading about the predicted object?
Question: Who is the center of that event?
Answer: Your participant.
He is the center of attention. You are simply conducting the mysterious event that will occur.
Here your artistic motivation is present, and can be interpreted by your participant during or after the performance. He could find this rationally or irrationally. I mean that, he will feel mystery about the prediction, but also for all the abstract process that happens. He will think about his decision, about what could happen if he changed the decision, and how things connect meaningfully.
Each person will create a different realization, thanks to the simple fact that each human is different. We can see the same event from several different perspectives. Let them fill the gaps and create their own thoughts.
We normally talk a lot during performances, right? And we need to do it to present our premise and perform. But I suggest that you begin to let them talk more.
Obviously using common sense and good routining, without leaving dead spots during the performance. Giving them some attention that can remove you from the “center of attention”, and let them focus on something other than you. They can pay attention to the external mystery to be experienced. When we start to listen to people, we can become inspired by them. We can develop as an artist.
In that way, you performance will become a “participant centered performance” and not just “performer centered”.
Is this right for you?
Maybe this model will not suit everyone. There are some situations in which your performance will not fit with the message I an giving you. For example, loud environments, where you can’t really talk with someone and connect with them. However, if you can use a single idea that could serve you for your own development as artist, the goal of this advice is accomplished.
If you use these 3 simple steps of personal setup and self programming, I can assure you that you can entertain and leave an interesting mysterious experience for anyone, anytime. As Dominic Reyes often states in the MoM Blog, it really isn’t about the tricks in the end. It is about you, and how you can focus the power on THEM. That technique will create the most mysterious events.
If you want to learn more about powerful mentalism on these lines I would recommend that you study the work from Richard Webster, Neal Scryer and also Jerome Finley, Luca Volpe and Dale A. Hildebrandt
Thank you for taking the time to read these ideas. Anything that you want just ask me in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.