Acclaimed mentalist performs March 13 at Rockefeller Arts Center
Have you ever dreamed of getting an acceptance letter from the Hogwarts Academy? If so, acclaimed mentalist Joshua Kane said his upcoming show is for you.
On Friday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m., Rockefeller Arts Center presents “Joshua Kane performs Borders of the Mind — The Psychic Show for the Whole Family” in the Alice E. Bartlett Theatre. This is a special 50th Anniversary Season event.
In “Borders of the Mind,” Kane invites audience members to tap into their own special powers and discover their own latent psychic abilities.
Kane does not claim to be a psychic himself. “I don’t talk to dead people. Or at least when I do, I don’t expect them to answer back,” Kane said. “I do consider myself more sensitive than most people, with a well-developed ability to read people.”
Growing up, Kane loved comic books. “I was and am a proud geek, and I dreamed of having supernatural powers,” he said.
But the all-powerful Superman did not interest him much. “I wanted to be one of those who was special because of their brain power, like Dr. Strange or Professor X,” Kane recalled. “I believe we all have untapped abilities to read and communicate with others. When we are in sync with others, extraordinary things can happen. In fact, we are all potentially psychic.”
Kane has been honing his powers of observation and his gift of intuition since he was a child. “I used to freak my family out during the holidays because I could always pick up any package under the tree that was for me and tell them what was in it,” he said.
Then, when he was 13 and studying stage magic, he met a mentor, Gary Lee Williams, an American ninjitsu master, a former bodyguard to the Dalai Lama, who was also a noted Mentalist.
“I was an odd kid and Gary recognized my untapped potential,” Kane said. ” In addition to traditional books on theatrical illusions, he had me reading books on how to read body language, lie detection, neuro-linguistic programming and how to develop a super-power memory — basically skills that would turn me into a young Sherlock Holmes.”
“Borders” is the theatrical expression of these skills. “I use my powers of observation and my five basic senses to create the illusion of a sixth and magical sense,” Kane said.
Kane went on, “‘Borders of the Mind’ allows me to blend two of my life-long passions: comic books/superheroes and theatrical magic/fantasy. I am mad about origin stories and have always felt that stories of how people become who they are more interesting than the stories that come after they have made those discoveries.
“And, of course, this all ties in with my background and training as a classical actor, the requirements of which include the ability to be observant, authentic and present in the moment.”
Kane caught the acting bug early on, studying with such luminaries as Stella Adler, Bobby Lewis, Marcel Marceau and the National Shakespeare Conservatory. He worked for a time as a storyteller, serving as a Connecticut state Master Teaching Artist. And he developed a series of one-man shows, including “Gothic at Midnight,” which draws from the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Ambrose Bierce and other grand masters of classic horror. And you may be familiar with his voice, which over the years has been featured in radio and television ads for brands ranging from Pillsbury and Little Caesars to MLB and the Central Intelligence Agency.
“I took the skills of the classic mentalist and blended them with my training in acting in order to create this show,” Kane said. “I take audiences on a journey. If we all trust in synchronicity and allow ourselves to have fun, then really cool things do happen. Not everything works every night, because I’m not doing tricks. Rather, we are playing games together — that’s the overall thematic of the evening.”
Another key factor that makes “Borders of the Mind” different from other mentalist performances is that rather than setting himself up as the all-knowing, all-powerful mind reader, Kane proposes to detect the latent psychic abilities of members of the audience.
“I believe people who come to this show are answering a call. These are the people who wish that they had gotten a letter from Hogwarts, the people who wish what was odd and strange about them as teenagers would turn out to be a latent superpower, like in the X-Men,” Kane said. “They are people who wish that at some point in their life, someone would point a finger at them and say, ‘You are the one,’ like Neo in The Matrix. In short, they are usually among the most creative people in the community.”
Kane explained the audience is a partner in the performance.
“I believe that today’s audience doesn’t want to just see a show, they want to be part of the show,” he said. “We’re living in an age of YouTube and Instagram influencers and gaming, where people are accustomed to actively participating in creating the stories that entertain them.”
Kane said that during his performances as many as 40 people are invited to come up onto the stage to participate in individual games and experiments, many of which are modeled on Victorian parlour games. “No one is ever pressured to come up on stage and no one is ever embarrassed,” he said.
Kane noted there will be “feats of lie detection, telepathy, memory and synchronicity. I’m more interested in the audience’s ability to read my mind than with mine to read theirs. The house lights are up throughout the performance and there will be times when the entire audience participates and experiences what certainly feel like psychic phenomena. Even I can’t always explain what takes place.”
Tickets are available through the Campus Ticket Office in the Williams Center, by phone at 673-3501 and online at fredonia.edu/tickets.