Posts tagged theatre
Mentalism = Superpower

Mentalism as the Ability to Have a Relate-able Super Power

I’ve been playing with some mentalism lately (eg thought-reading) and experimenting with various structures/methods for presenting the work. One thing I’ve been thinking about lately (besides how greatly different it is from any sort of sleight of hand work I’ve done in the past) is how to create moments of a relate-able super power. 

I think with mentalism, more so than many other types of magic (save for certain illusions) make room for the audience/participants to insert themselves into the performer’s shoes and imagine what it would be like to have the ability to read minds. It’s a naturally common idea, the idea to read someone else’s thoughts, versus the bizarrely unique skill of the classic sleight of hand trope of finding someone’s selected card in a shuffled deck.

It’s why People Stopped Looking (<— that’s a previous blog post on speaking with a mentalist) and it’s also why people want to see that process of the thought-reading. One thing I’ve been seeing more and more is how much my audiences love seeing that moment where I finally get the thought they’re thinking of, and, equally importantly, how I arrived at this conclusion. 

Mentalism is inherently more about verbal storytelling than many other forms of magic and art. How do we let the audience take a ride along with us and feel like they, too, can read minds -- even if just for that very moment? It’s a special gift to give. 

— J.R.

The Deception Artist at Work, Spyscape Museum, New York City

The Deception Artist at Work, Spyscape Museum, New York City

This coming Monday, January 14, 2019, J.R. will perform a unique installation at Spyscape NYC. Coinciding with a special event, J.R. will demonstrate skills utilized across occupations, from the world of espionage, to the magician, to the street hustler.

If you’re in NYC and tickets are still available for this one of a kind experience, we look forward to seeing you there...

Excerpt from the experience:

… [The Deception Artist] begins to explore some of the psychology and language behind this game, breaking down some of the tells that we humans innately display when we’re trying to hide a secret. The interaction is equal parts deception and secrecy, which are both revealed and concealed sequentially all in front of your very eyes and in your very hands. The interaction concludes with a simple “trick/cheat” that you can learn and perform as well when you leave, activating yourself as a deception artist…

-- J.R.

Beauty in Magic & Theatre

Dear Reader —

We’re back after ALTÆR, a public thank you for joining us on that journey… With reflection on performances in general, I give to you this meditation on beauty within art…

We like to view beautiful things.

Because beauty so rarely exists.

Everyday life is ugly, there are struggles we all face. When we watch theatre, when we watch magic, we want to partake in a hyper-curated beautiful reality, we want to see a world in which we do not live. This is why the archetype of the magician has persisted throughout the ages. They are the harbinger of the fantastic. While there may be elements within our falsely constructed fantasy that connect us to daily life, we in no way want to see something that is everyday life.

There may be “ugly” art, but there is no doubt some way in which this art is has the qualities of beauty. Perhaps these ugly beauties exemplify something within us that is painful, visceral and vile, something heartbreaking or moving, however make no mistake that these too are beautiful moments, even though they may superficially harbor pain for us.

Therefore, only put things before an audience in which you have defined the beauty you will share. What are you showing them that gives them a new perspective, what are you giving them that shares some of the beauty from your life? For it is only when we do this, that, in return, you will receive the greatest response of all from them: you will receive their beauty back to you.

-- J.R.

A Sober Realization of Performance Context

“And if thou gaze long into the abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” - Nietzsche

If I could start every blog post off with a Nietzsche quote, I think I’d be happy.

This entry is regarding the impact of the situations you perform upon yourself, the performer. Someone recently asked about my performance history: I started performing at the Magic Castle when I was a teenager, in a set showroom with showtimes and someone introducing me, and a number of people in seats watching me, with controlled lighting and all. I also did charity shows when I was first starting out, but again these were conditions where I had seating and a set audience and a set show length etc.

From there, as I started to become more “professional” I began to take on more and more “walkaround”/”close-up” gigs and quickly found that these were quite lucrative, and I legitimately enjoy the act of meeting new people every few minutes and talking with them, learning about them, and sharing magic in a one to one situation. Carry that through to today, and I’d say that for every 100 walkaround performances I do, I do probably 5 set acts where there’s a proper audience and seating etc. These contexts in which I perform are now reflected within my work.

I used to be much more attuned to crafting a theatrical experience for an audience, creating connections between ideas, and bringing things to a satisfactory conclusion within that theatrical context. Not to mention the technical magical differences of performance handling with a micro-audience compared to a full theatre stage. I’ve become rusty, needless to say, at handling a full audience. I still am able to engage, but I feel myself fighting urges to handle the full audience like a small group, which is wildly ineffective. Frequently, I’ve found myself frustrated with this knowledge, knowing full well that I used to be so damn good at it, now that I’ve actively changed the situations where I’m damn good.

This is all to say, no matter your background in something, no matter where you begin, you’re changing who you are, as a performer, every day, based on the situations you perform in. Every minute spent performing, remain conscious that you’re shifting your direction into this specific area of performance. Take gigs and performance opportunities carefully, which is tough if you’re trying to make this your full-time profession, and understand that every step forward is a step in a specific direction. Success = Time. So be mindful of where that time is spent. While it’s always important to keep progressing and moving onto forward ground, sometimes, it’s important to stop and look around to see where we are.

Wishing you all the best, to all the performers out there, to finding the place where you feel at home.

-- J.R.


The Woman Illusion @ Theater for the New City, NYC

Dear Reader,

We take today to shamelessly plug our own production: The Woman Illusion which premieres in a handful of days at Theater for the New City, an Off-Off-Broadway space on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, NYC. We hope that if you're in town, you'll catch it!

Brief description:
"The Woman Illusion is a playful, wicked gallery of ways to be a woman. Our small cast uses the magic of theatre, and sleight-of-hand art by Magic Castle magician Jackson "Jax" Ridd to unravel spellbinding everyday acts of femininity from the podium to the bedroom. The result is revolution."

The Woman Illusion Website


-- J.R. & P.R.