So, Edinburgh day five and it feels like we’ve been here for two weeks.
Life has settled in a haze of trundle, perform, trundle, promote, eat, change, perform, trundle, eat, drink and sleep.
I saw an acquaintance from the Brighton Fringe out promoting his show (We Are Goose is the name of his company and they do a great piece about Surgeon John Hunter- go see it) near the Underbelly, he’d been at it two weeks and looked, frankly terrible. He looked liked he’d fell prey to multiple six year olds asking him to peer through their special binoculars to see the strange flag atop Edinburgh castle.
I ain’t complaining, I knew what I signed up for, I’m merely pointing out the sheer hard work and energy that people pour into the Fringe.
I haven’t had much time to see anything and I’ll be going to see an afternoon show today. I did see some great comedy at The Canon Gait. It was Peter Buckley Hill’s Free Fringe comedy guest line up and was absolutely great fun, especially Peter himself, who had some cracking one liners and mumbled into the mic continually in a stream-of-consciousness-nonsensical way at the intermission until people finally had the stones to get up for a wee and a pint. Hal Cruttenden also put in an appearance and was so funny that I inadvertently snorted beer up my nose.
What has been painful is watching the attempts to get people to take your flyer in the Royal Mile.
For those of you not in the know, here are the commandments:
For myself, I have taken to mind reading punters and whenever I get something wrong I put a staple in my arm. Glad that my run isn’t across the whole of August, though it is a great way of getting compliance
Me:”So, I’m sensing you were indoors?”
Hapless punter:”no, it was outdoors” (I go to staple..) “ah! Don’t! I was indoors, I was indoors’”
Last nights show by the way, was a beezer. Excellent trance subjects and amazing results on the psychometry experiment. More on that later. Got the press in tonight and it’s time to trundle.
Yesterday was an incredible day for me. So much so, that I am still fairly fizzing with energy. As part of my ongoing commitment to training, learning and growing as a performer, I attended an event organised by headhacking (www.headhacking.com) training a group of fellow mystery performers in the art of sideshow skills. We were a small number, huddled around a strange and compelling collection of gin traps, staple guns, mousetraps, nails and nail beds, buckets of broken glass and syringes on a bright but breezy Derbyshire morning.
Sideshow has always fascinated me, and I remember many years ago watching the Enigma and Jim Rose as well as performers in Covent Garden and being stunned, delighted, shocked and surprised about what these people could do. Our tutor for the day is a seasoned performer Tristan Stothard and I have to compliment him on an excellent series of workshops building in complexity and challenge to the final pinnacle of the ‘Human Pincushion’ act. Basically, piercing yourself with needles which is something I never thought I would do as up until yesterday I had a phobic reaction to needles, syringes and anything pointy and medical-looking. I still have a healthy respect for said items but already I feel different about them. We weren’t exactly achieving the state that I’ve seen in Asia with penitents at Thaipusam, but it was a profound step for me, to get to know myself a little better and understand that there is so much more to us than we think.
In one of the morning breaks, I even broke a chopstick between my palms in an ‘iron palm’ moment! I shall try the neck next!
The video above shows a few highlights, and I don’t really want to talk about specifics other than to say that having laid on a bed of nails, on broken glass with someone standing on my head, washing with glass and stapling my arm, I am excited as I have ever been and already am looking at integrating elements of my new learnings into a new show.
Sideshow: a staple of mentalism!
So, we are fast approaching Edinburgh.
A few weeks from now, I’ll be in Auld Reekie at The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre for a short residency of my stage show.
As part of the pomp and circumstance I shall be attempting a blindfold drive around the city on Monday the 12th.
Rather than actually driving around the grassmarket without sight, I will be in the back of a taxi, where I will be placed into a hypnotic trance and blindfolded to allow me to better concentrate on the movements of the car. The taxi driver will drive to where he or she feels like driving to somewhere in the city of Edinburgh. When they stop the car, I will then attempt to talk them back to 25 Palmerston Place, the address of the Conan Doyle Centre and venue for my show.
More details will follow soon, suffice to say, I am studying maps and have been practicing around Oxfordshire building up my confidence. My friends Richard and Frankie have already helped me out on a test run, where I managed to get within several feet of where we started, avoiding local police who might have questioned two blokes driving slowly with a guy in the bag with a black bag over his head.
Whoah! What a week. This last week has been such a great experience. This was really the first time I got to roll out new facets of the show and to integrate some business. Over the course of the run at Brighton, Frankie (my tech guy and creative sounding board) and I tweaked and talked over moments and mooched repeatedly from Hove to Brighton.
The result is that the show is leaner and most assuredly better.
Fringe city, an outdoor event along New Road promoting acts playing the Fringe proved to be an excellent way of meeting fellow performers and potential audience. For a second time I hit the ‘up close and personal’ Fringe Van after playing one of the open stages to deliver some hypnotherapy to those wanting to shift a limiting belief. One dear soul leaving weepy but energised about what she had accomplished in so short a time. Onstage as well, I capitalised on a particularly good subject capable of experiencing catalepsy and amnesia
Audience feedback at The Dukebox Theatre reveals that he was a reason for some of them stopping by!
It was edifying to play alongside Elvis and Marilyn impersonators, a musical revue about the life and times of pioneer surgeon John Hunter and two hairy dudes singing tunes about Billy the Kid.
The second weekend was rammed as Brighton was playing host to ‘The Great Escape’ a rather large music festival in addition to Fringe and Brighton Festival events. Large gangs of the painfully hip roved around or perched on pub benches discussing the finer points of music whilst sipping Aperol Spritz (which seems to be ubique through clever marketing and hard cash advertising) and artfully, nonchalantly rolling ciggies one-handed. I hadn’t seen so many AAA passes since my London ligger days.
Performance-wise I had three very different audiences, the smallest being on the last night (7) which necessitated a reworking of certain elements of the show. It actually elevated the emotional content of the show and the rapport with the audience (though I felt I knew them all pretty well by the end of the performance!) eliciting several ‘wow’ moments and a fair share of confused ‘What?’ And ‘nooooo!’s.
Cbeebies legend Sid Sloane also popped in and stayed around after for some drinks and a chat. I heard his voice in the audience (I was blindfolded at the time) and had one of those ‘He sounds familiar’ episodes where you try to place someone. Turns out he’s a South London boy so we had a proper chat about Wandsworth, Tooting and Balham and the haunts we knew therein. Tremendous chap!
Here’s a little feedback post-show from some of Wednesday’s audience:
Your Place or Mind
Off to sunny Manchester today and beginning prep for the Banbury show.
So, a fair wee while since I updated this blog. I’m currently in the Iron Duke pub having completed a technical rehearsal for my show. It’s the first night tonight and naturally I am nervous. Frankie, my stage manager is an island of calm whilst I stalk around checking and re-checking the stage, set and order of the performance.
I fell over on the way to the venue today and ripped my trousers! No permanent damage and there were no buses going past to squish me.
Yesterday evening was a turbulent mix of promotion and pizza and the weekend performance at fringe city was incredible.
I offered free phobia removal in the fringe van, literally, the back of the van. One lady in particular got very emotional and managed to shift a limiting belief she’d had for a long time, another searched and couldn’t find any trace of the phobia she had had twenty minutes before. All thanks to techniques taught to me by Freddy Jacquin and Anthony Jacquin and Head Hacking. I enjoy this element of what I do, it is excellent to see people engineer change and move forward.
I’m off to check everything is in place again!
A few weeks ago I decided to start promoting myself and my services in a much more visible way. I went to the local paper and asked local journalist Martin Elverly if he would be good enough to hold onto an envelope containing a series of future event predictions I had made in a hypnotic state. Whilst at the offices of The Banbury Guardian, I asked him to sign one of the slips containing the predictions, to seal the envelope, sign across the flap and place it into a second, larger envelope, which was again sealed by Martin with adhesive stickers placed around the edges and on the flap to prevent tampering. This envelope was then taken by Martin and placed into the safe of The Guardian and we agreed to meet two weeks hence in the town centre to open the envelopes and see if it was possible for me to predict the news headlines.
Martin was kind enough to run the story and we met as agreed, two weeks down the line.
I never again touched the envelope, nor it’s contents. On the day of the revelation, we stood in a chilly Banbury town centre whilst the clock struck twelve noon and Martin and a helper dragooned into service from the street, a passer-by, read out the predictions.
How did I do?
Well, I remember thinking that one of my predictions had definitely came in earlier than expected. A prediction about the nuclear test in North Korea, I missed on one prediction involving questioning a random passer-by but was almost spot on with three other predictions including the front page of The Mail and the back page of The Times.
Well, nobody’s perfect!
What is totally excellent, is that the local theatre The Mill Arts Centre has booked in ‘Your Place or Mind’ on the 13th of June! Which just goes to show, you can’t always see everything that’s in store.
So it’s been an interesting time relocating to the UK after an absence of over a decade. I had forgotten the joys of bureaucracy, form-filling and admin that Britain revels in. The whole family is in free-fall experiencing serious Asia pangs and this is the first harsh winter we’ve seen in a good wee while. One of the nice things about being back in Albion has been catching up with extended family, friends and meeting folk who I’ve talked to on the net but never met in person. I attended Tabla Mentis, a meeting of The Society of British Mystery Entertainers. A great affair where I got to mix and mingle with people who I respect and have hitherto admired from afar. I also hung around the periphery of Head Hackings training in Derby and helped out where applicable. Grabbing some time to chat with Ant and Kev about the Automatic Imagination Model of hypnosis. If you haven’t heard about it, you can read Kev’s explanations here http://tinyurl.com/asn5ktx Thought provoking stuff. It got me thinking in all kinds of directions and specifically about some of the processes behind the creation of character in acting rehearsals. I’m currently investigating a way of crossing over some of the AI model into acting, but more of that later.
I now have a limited company, which I called CAVORT. It is my hope that I can draw together the strands of what I do under the umbrella of this company. My current show Your Place or Mind will continue to tour this year in a slightly changed format. Those of you that have seen it, know that it investigates the notion of coincidence through a series of experiments. I have a new experiment which I am adding to the show, which I am very excited about. I’ve tentatively titled it ‘The Wreck of the Medulla’ and it involves hypnosis and psychometry with some rather special ‘hauntiques’ which are antiques with a certain history to them. One of the delights of this piece is that I genuinely don’t know how it will turn out, it’s real fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentalism and has the potential to be really excellent theatre.
A formless mass that accrues as it goes and terrorises the masses – sounds about right.
Welcome to my blog. I hope this will be a stream of communication and not merely a series of nattering, yattering comments from me. I’m sure they’ll be in effect but I also hope to have a dialogue and to create a space where people can talk with me about subjects we find mutually interesting. A good friend of mine asked me why I hadn’t blogged before- he stated that he was shocked that I hadn’t already created a veritable mountain of digital prose and I answered that to do this kind of caper I imagine you have to be dedicated to it. I didn’t have the time.