Avoiding idiosyncracies during performances

Instead of mentally projecting your mentalism thoughts, type them here.

Postby Guest » 03/02/06 07:36 AM

Whenever i am practising I notice that I tend to slur or change my tempo or raise my voice or deliver a sentence in a different way especially before or when I perform the critical switch or the bottom card peek or the main move.For example if i do the standard centre tear and I say"Did u write it in block letters or did u write it in english " I tend to get distracted myself.My wife invariably catches on the "move".She says that there is a facial twitch also (which coincides with the move).The audience usually does not catch on as they are seeing me for the first time.Any help David/Biro or from other practising mentalists ?

Postby John LeBlanc » 03/02/06 07:43 AM

There is one thing that will help you probably more than anything else (other than hiring a director): video tape your practice sessions, then watch and study the tapes.

Many people do the first part but never get around (or drill up the courage) to do the second part.

Tape, study, modify, practice. Tape, study, modify, practice.

Does Pavlov ring a bell?

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 03/02/06 08:07 AM

Originally posted by mindshrink:
...in a different way especially before or when I perform the critical switch or the bottom card peek or the main move...
How much of your attention do you feel you need to keep upon these secret actions?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time
Jonathan Townsend
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Postby Guest » 03/02/06 10:42 AM

John LeBlanc - Tape, study, modify, practice. Tape, study, modify, practice.
Mr. LeBlanc's advice cannot be emphasized strongly enough for all performers.

Postby David Alexander » 03/02/06 10:54 AM

The first thing to do is practice the Center Tear (or any sleight or secret action) until you can do it without thinking about doing it. You have to train your muscle memory so the action becomes automatic. If you have to think about doing it, you don't have it down.

Flitting from one method to another, constantly looking for the "best" method, is counter-productive. Settle on one method and make it your own. Later, when a certain level of proficiency is reached, refinement and polishing is possible, but, in essence, stick to one method and perfect it.

Once you can do the move without thinking you must integrate the sleight or secret move into your presentation....again, without having to think about it. A script is valuable here as is the ability to understand the beat/tempo of your presentation. Moves should be done on the off-beat, when people are relaxed and distracted - thinking about something else...looking at something else.

Once that level is reached, you have to re-learn the presentation so that it sounds spontaneous, not rehearsed or done by rote. The currently popular word for this is "Fresh."

At that level are you then ready to present it to the public. Self-confidence comes at this level because you know you can let yourself focus on the minor adjustments necessary when working for an audience. Every audience is different, needing tiny adjustments in your presentation, timing, delivery, etc.

With lots of experience comes the ability to adjust to these needs almost automatically. It takes a long time and lots of attention to detail. It can be difficult, which is why so few attain that level.
David Alexander
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Postby Guest » 03/03/06 02:06 PM

David (as is usual) is right on.

I would add one thing, however. SCRIPT!

The tendency of mentalists to scat or improvise while doing moves takes a lot of performance time -- and repeats of routines. The more a routine seems "improvised" the better the script.

Postby David Alexander » 03/04/06 12:25 AM

Thanks. See third paragraph, second sentence where I mention scripting.

Scripts, when written with lots of experience, are good foundations for routines. Unfortunately, without a lot of experience, what often reads well does not come off in performance. One of the things to avoid is putting too much into a script. Keeping it simple and direct is usually the best way to go.
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