PETER TROMP spoke to Mentalist GILAN GORK, who will present his latest show ‘Beyond the Mind’ to Capetonians at Theatre On The Bay in Camps Bay from November 7 to 24.
When did you first realise you had a gift, and how did you set about developing your skills?
When I was a young child I always played with magic tricks. Then I was introduced to the Allied Arts, which includes magicians, hypnotists and mentalists. This was my first introduction to mentalism and as I started playing with the ideas and principles I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a knack for it! I was a young teenager at the time.
What were people’s initial reactions when you started exhibiting your mental talents?
I was still in school at this time and the immediate reactions from fellow students were to ask me to demonstrate these feats on a constant basis. This is where I first realised that I needed to share with the world what I do because people wanted to see it – it empowered and inspired them. My teachers, on the other hand, preferred for me to focus on their class instead of distracting myself with my own mind.
Tell us about your show at Theatre On The Bay. What can audiences look forward to?
I am so excited about the show that I’m bringing to Cape Town because it has the staple ingredients of mind reading, predictions and telekinesis, plus two world firsts that my team and I have spent ages researching and developing.
One of these never-seen-before experiences is when I ask a volunteer in the audience to think of some random information and to keep it secret, after which I connect the subject to a machine via electrodes which results in a digital representation of what the subject is seeing in his/her mind projected live on big screen…in 3D! This is the first time that audiences have ever been able to visually watch as I enter the subject’s mind and extract the secret information.
Another exclusive feat is that at each show, one person from the audience will be given the opportunity of unlocking his or her own mind reading abilities and they will go on to read other audience members’ minds during the second half of the show.
This might come across as a silly question, but how is a Mentalist different to a magician?
A magician will deal in the “seven effects of magic”, which are production, disappearance, levitation, transposition, transformation, restoration and penetration.
You’ll never see a Mentalist cutting a lady in half, producing a rabbit from a hat or any other kind of trick related to the seven effects. Instead a Mentalist deals with the mind and will present exciting variations related to reading thoughts, predicting what people will do or say before it happens and even demonstration of psycho kinesis such as moving objects or bending metal with the mind.
It is true, though that some magicians learn some mentalism and incorporate it into their magic shows. I specialise in mentalism and focus all my energy on pioneering new mentalism experiences for my audiences to enjoy.
How supportive were the people around you when you first started to explore your gift? Were you ever encouraged to follow a more straightforward career path?
My parents were always extremely supportive. I owe them many thanks for this. They never made me feel that being a mentalist as a full time career is any better or worse than any other career path. They knew I was passionate about it and they knew it was my best skill. When companies started to offer me money to present at their corporate functions, it just confirmed to my parents and I that it is a viable career path.
Who do you look up to in your field?
There are many mentalists who I enjoy, like Derren Brown, however most of my inspiration comes from people who communicate a message and an emotion through their art. This could be artists, musicians, composers, actors, playwrights…and one who is able to take their audiences through all shades of human emotion. This is always my goal when performing on stage – to find ways for the audience to relate to what I’m doing on stage and to enjoy the mental and emotional journey, much like you would after watching a movie or listening to a song.
What have been some of the most memorable audience responses to past shows of yours?
I am very fortunate to be able to say that I can’t think of one audience which has been a “bad audience”. My best audience reactions are when people come up to me after the show to let me know that they feel inspired and empowered towards their own personal potential. I once had a mother make contact to let me know that her 10 year old son was battling with a certain project. After watching my show he said to his mom “If Gilan can do that with his mind, and says I can do anything too, then I can do this,” and he went on to complete this project. That kind of response is certainly the best.
Have you found uses in everyday life for your talents?
Most people think that my abilities come in handy in the dating game, but unfortunately emotion is my kryptonite and can often distort my intuition. So I’d have to say that the best advantage to being a mentalist in everyday life is that I can connect with people easily. This is handy in most areas of life because we always need to work with others when we are striving for big dreams and goals.
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