I recently checked out The Store at Bob Cassidys website, www.mastermindreader.com/cd.
While most of his newer releases have sold out, I was surprised to see some older ebooks are still available. I have a few of these and thought Id offer up some reviews because there is some grade A material within their cyberpages. The Hanussen Proof will be the first, with more to follow in the next few days.
The Hanussen Proof is presented in two parts. Part I is Bobs version of Erik Jan Hanussens arrest in 1928 and the subsequent trial two years later at which he was vindicated by demonstrating his clairvoyant powers in court. There is a great deal of information in Part I, allowing the reader to pick and choose and create a presentation that meets their needs and fits their own style.
The story of Hanussen really is quite a tale and if told well should engage most audiences. It also is the set up for the effect described in Part II. One of Hanussens signature effects was to have a memorable date and a place provided by an audience member. Hanussen would then give explicit details about what had occurred on the given date. It was this effect that led to his arrest, when a suspicious police officer convinced an audience member to provide false information to an assisstant that Hanussen nevertheless was able to clairvoyantly deduce and report back to the audience.
It was this same effect that led to Hanussen being found not guilty in court. Determining that his only chance of being freed was demonstrating this ability successfully under test conditions, Hanussen did just that. His wife and assistant and associates were removed from the court, leaving Hanussen on his own. As in his cabaret performance, he was provided with dates and places whose corresponding events were known only to the judge and select individuals. The events were accurately detailed and Hanussen was acquitted of all charges. The resulting publicity led to his being a successful and highly sought after psychic. Not long after, the Gestapo apparently murdered Hanussen, but that is another story.
Part II is Bobs method for recreating the basic effect as described above. Five audience members are brought on stage to provide dates and places and a sixth to act as The Judge. The theme is essentially the recreation of the trial that led to Hanussens acquittal.
Kenton Knepper once said, meaning is the best misdirection, and The Hanussen Proof is an excellent example of this principle. At its essence, the effect is a form of Q & A (the form Millard Longman likes to refer to as information regurgitation) and could be made to play strongly sans the tale of Hanussen. But within the framework of Hanussens arrest and acquittal, it becomes almost a mini play, deeply engaging the audience and allowing very simple, yet bold methods to achieve startling results.
Consider also the impact of the staging wherein six audience members are up front or on stage with the mentalist. A frequent complaint about mentalism is that there isnt a lot to look at, preventing it from playing large. Mark Salem, on his interview for the Conversations With Mentalists series, states that he does use large props, saying something to the effect that his props are between 5 and 6 feet tall and weigh between 120 and 200 pounds. This is an apt response to the above complaint. The Hanussen Proof applies this principle times six.
An entire show of all story pieces is likely to become boring. However, the addition of one or two effects accompanied by interesting stories can add texture to a performance and help move the audience through a variety of emotional experiences. In the right hands, The Hanussen Proof should prove an excellent vehicle to achieve this purpose. As with all of Bobs writings, at the very least his ideas will get you thinking and inspire your own applications of his concepts.