In answer to rjp who asked "...Richardson, Derren Brown and others...Do you think that mental magic has changed with persons like this and what is your personal opinion on mentalism and NLP etc.? Should the beginner learn these things? Is it basics for todays
mentalism? Where will it bring us?..."
First of all, Pete Biro is right (as usual) to study the material of Al Koran. It is a good idea as his material was simple and direct, both being an important key to success within mentalism. If it takes more than two sentences to describe what you are going to do then it is far too complext to present to a lay audience as mentalism.
Now as far as rjp's first question on whether mental magic has changed. Mental magic and mentalism are different. They have different premises as well as a different effect upon an audience. For many it is afine line but for the successful mentalists out there it is much more than a fine line. It is a philosophy. There is far more mental magic out there (and it still has an extremely powerful effect upon a lay audience) than pure mentalism.
Mentalism as with magic has grown and changed as an art form over the years. It is more "contemporary" now, more up beat. Gone are the days of the turban wearing mentalist reading sealed messages by holding them to his forehead. In it's place are a new breed of upbeat, fast paced, casual dressed performers like Tim Conover, Craig Karges, Banachek, Ted Karmilovitch, Jeff and Tessa Evason, Derren Brown (I could go on with more names here but I think you get my point).
These contemporary performers have followed in the footsteps of mnay others who have set this new style and pace and as such this is the direction one should be heading in order to be successful. Remeber, mentalism IS not magic (not in the laymans eyes anyway) and as such is a very different mentality within the performer. I mentioned in a previous post to read the works of Bob Cassidy. Bob coined the phrase "Jazz Mentalism". I urge you to study all of Bob's works and learn what "jazz mentalism" is and use it. Bob's works not only guide you in the right directions for "effects" but also in the "philosophies and thinking" of a contemporary mentalist. His "Principia Mentalia" series and his "Art of Mentalism" (both 1 and 2) lay the foundations to work from for an upbeat and entertaining mental performance.
"Theatre of the Mind" by Barry Richardson, "Para-Miracles" by Ted Lesley, "My Way to Mentalism" by Tony Binarreli (The first three chapters are the ones to pay attention to here), are good examples of the new thinking in this area. Of course there are more but these are examples of this new thinking. Also, despite their age, the PUNX series is also a brilliant work that can help you to elevate your performance into an entertaining art form and not a boring series of "tricks".
As for NLP, some of us live by it and others dismiss it as poppycock. I personally do not put much faith into it and neither do some other leading mentalists but there are others that swear by it. I do not think there is a right or wrong with this. Some of us are adamant that it is cr*p and they feel the opposite. It may never be answered, so I do not think that a student of modern mentalism needs to worry about studying NLP early on. Leave that for later. The two most important things you need to study and concentrate on are "technique" which is always an important element especially if you want to be successful with "jazz mentalism".
The second and MOST important thing you must study and learn to the absolute best of your ability is "performance skills". You need to be the best actor possible, as well as the most entertaining personality you can possibly be. A good mentalist stands with nothing but themselves (and their perosnality) and a microphone. Armed with NO props, just themselves and the premise that they can read your thoughts and bend your perceptions they must entertain the audience. (Think of a good hypnotist here as they have a similar style and in fact if you ever have a chance to watch Reveen work on stage you will see what a real professional work who has a most comanding personality, totally captivating and yet comes across as a warm human being <which he truly is and is why he is as successful as he is> and study what he does and how he does it).
Take acting lessons, get as much opportunity to work on stage as you can, if you are funny take to the amateur microphone opportunities at comdey clubs as it too is a great way to develop the "just be you" concept <and that means do material that you have written and not stock jokes or dick jokesand NO magic, just comedy otherwise you will just learn to hide behind the props>. Get outside direction from qualified people that are NOT magicians as far as your performance goes and listen to their critique of what you are doing. Do not make the mistake most magicians do by thinking that not only are they entertaining but they can do their directing themselves. It is not as easy to be objective about ones own work and it is much easier for someone to be watching you work (find a good theatre director to help if you can) to give you constructive ctiticism than it is to do so for yourself.
Always remember that with mentalism, it is you that is the key to succesful performance not the effects that you are performing for them. If you take a well rounded expertise in technique and couple it with a season, strong personality that has a real sincerity that is felt by the audience you have the right formula to work with. Hope that all helps,
Paul Alberstat http://www.mindguy.com