Hello! Tell us about Whose Mind Is It Anyway?
Whose Mind is a long-form, narrative, musical improv show, built from, around and staring hypnotised volunteers. Every evening we’ll be creating an entirely improvised hypnotised movie musical, featuring our all-star improvisers (who are also actors and singers) AND hypnotised audience volunteers. The volunteers will join our cast for one night only, to create an entirely improvised, brand new musical movie on the spot. Our aim? To make those volunteers look incredible and to give them the time of their life. All using the power of hypnosis to unlock their creativity, banish their inhibitions and turn off the bit of their brain that says ‘I can’t’ – allowing them to become a star on stage.
How did you come up with the name of your show that your taking to the fringe?
We wanted to create a title that would enable us to be recognisable as both a hypnosis show and an improv show and thought it was a fun play on words around the power of our minds – which is important in both hypnosis and improv!
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at the fringe?
Our extremely talented cast are in loads of other shows this Edinburgh fringe, including: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Austentatious, The Maydays present Happily Never After, Impromptu Shakespeare, Bumper Blyton the Improvised Adventure, Daniel Nils Robers: The History of the World in 1 Hour. Go and show them some love. They’re an incredible bunch.
Have you done the fringe before? What are the key pieces of advice you have been given or would give to new groups or people performing at the fringe?
Yes once before. We came up in 2016 with a full-production hypnosis show and had a wonderful reception to packed out audiences, sell our shows and rave reviews from the public and critics alike. The magic and mystery of hypnosis really captures audiences’ imaginations. After touring this show for years, we felt that it was the perfect time to return to the festival with something completely different and totally revolutionary…
Tips for first time performers? I think the best tip is to just have fun. And pace yourself. It’s a long month − It can feel like everything is an exciting opportunity and you can burn out super-quickly – So be kind to yourself and get lots of sleep! And also make sure you get to watch as many other shows as you can. We’re all going there to work, but you also need to come away feeling like you had an amazing time and made the most of the festival and didn’t just spend a month putting pressure on yourself! Supporting other performers and allowing them to amaze and inspire you can be super refreshing (especially when things get stressful or overwhelming!). And if you don’t fancy a show, head off to the beach or Arthurs Seat for a good old walk. It does your mind the power of good.
What have been some of your favourite shows to date and why?
We write our show round ups like they are on the back of the DVD or BluRay We’ve done loads of very fun shows in rehearsals. We get a brand new musical movie titles from our audience to inspire each show and some of the most recent ones have included ‘The King and iPad’, ‘Peterborough! The Musical’ and a movie musical set at the Olympics featuring our hypnotised volunteers as the American coaches!
We’ve had We had a movie musical set on a train where one of our hypnotised volunteers became ‘Fred’ the best pie-maker in Cumbria who couldn’t keep up with demand for his pies and a movie musical where a group of hypnotised volunteers got accidentally involved with vampires after entering ‘The House on the Hill’. ‘Singing in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth’, where the French Ambassador and his corrupt kitchen staff were foiled in their plan to kill the Queen (played by a hypnotic volunteer) with that lesser known French delicacy *insert French accent here’ ‘Angel Delight’… ‘Scary Poppins’ was a movie musical where unfeeling dads, nannies that were secretly witches and naughty children that were simply misunderstood (played by our hypnotic volunteers) held a witch hostage with their skipping ropes and sang at a wedding…all whilst hypnotised…and all whilst looking like absolute superstars.
We joined ‘Penny’ on a trip to Devon to meet Penny who was reunited with her friends, family and church after 5 long years away in ‘that there London’…Where she was forced to make the biggest decision of her life, after Bernard, her love she ran away from, left his high-flying, fast-paced London life and followed her to more ‘rural climes’…but will she meet him at 8pm? Or will Bernard drive off in his Honda Civic back to The Big Smoke alone?…You’ll have to watch ‘Penny’s from Devon’ to find out!…But you can’t because NO TWO NIGHTS WILL EVER BE THE SAME! And that is the absolute joy of this show. We can’t wait to release this totally unique, highly energetic and super magical hypnotic improv show to you all!
How do you rehearse for a show with hypnotism?
Our Whose Mind rehearsals involve lots of games, singing and working on specific focuses in the morning. Usually something specific we want to polish up and explore new ways to push the boundaries. Whether that’s working on developing narrative from hypnotised volunteers, making our stage pictures stronger, our choreography easier to follow for hypnotised volunteers, keeping our editing efficient (we use clapperboards!) or even exploring specific character song syles. In the afternoon, we then get a bunch of lovely volunteers who have agreed to give up their time to come along, be hypnotised and allow us to do a couple of show runs in real time. These are no different to our normal shows, just without an audience and without all of our fancy tech!
There is really no way to rehearse a hypnosis show without doing it – and the same can be said for an improv show, so when you are doing a show that brings together both mediums, really the only way to rehearse it – is just to do it! As the show will be completely different every time though, all we can do is flex both our improv and hypnosis muscles and then expect the unexpected on the night. It’s kind of like how footballers train for the match – but they’ll never know what that particular game will bring.
Favourite one liner you have done in a show and why?
Our show is less about one liners and more about the story, characters and songs we create in the moment. And the emotional journeys those characters have gone on throughout the show. We’ve certainly created some ‘way homers’ – big closing numbers created on the hoof that people find themselves singing on the way out of the theatre. Especially when it’s about how those characters have changed throughout the narrative. Somehow that feels far more satisfying than a one liner.
What have been some of the most unique and different comedy shows you have seen this year and why?
Nathan Cassidy’s stand up show, Observational. It’s unique because it’s clever, heartwarming and, unusually for a stand up show, you leave inspired and joyful. It’s such a clever, honest show with a beautiful and unexpected ending. #KeeptheSecrets!
What is the best way to enjoy yourself at the fringe?
For performers I’d say eat well (get those veggies in) see lots of shows and support your fellow performers, but also know when you need a break. The best thing for a busy mind is to head off for a glorious walk up Arthur’s Seat or along the beach at Portobello. Or, simply grab the nearest friend or colleague, head off to pastures new and put a ban on talking about Fringe related stuff – having just a few hours detox talking about everything but the Fringe and reconnecting with normality can play wonders for your soul.
What would be your top three items every performer must take to the fringe?
A waterproof jacket with a hood, sunglasses and waterproof boots (yep, you usually get at least 3 types of weather during the course of a day). Oh and earplugs in case you have noisy housemates!
What’s the secret to successful flyering?
Do an hour at a time and do it well. But don’t do any more than that. A focussed hour is worth more than three half hearted hours in the rain! Experiment with different times of day and location at first until you find the ones that work for you and stick with those. We even draw up a schedule for our flyerers so they get to make the best use of their time. Everyone is busy at the Fringe and good flyering time management is essential to make the most of your time and prevent burnout.
Look for similar shows in the fringe brochure. Exit flyer if possible. Connect with people, try and connect with them in a way they want to be connected with. Try and identify how each person walking by you might want to be engaged with – are they in a rush, then simply a polite flyer in hand will be gratefully received…Are they wanting to be convinced or guided on what to see? Ask them what they love? What they have seen already? People love to talk rather than be talked at.
Let them tell you a little bit about themselves and let them qualify themselves to see your show. Are they booked up for that evening? Ask them what they’re seeing and schedule is and tell them when they can see you next and how it will be a good fit for them. Treat everyone like lovely humans and overcome their objections in a genuine way.
Who would be your ultimate dream audience member?
Most of them are dreams! But the best volunteers to be hypnotised are those who are intelligent, have a great imagination and are good at concentrating. The audience members we most love are the ones that come along, really wanting to give the hypnosis and the show a go, but are maybe a little shy – and once they are hypnotised and on stage – they shine like the true stars that they are. We’ve even had people say they have fallen in love with their spouses all over again after seeing them in one of our shows!
Improv and hypnosis have a very natural connection – using the same bit of our brain to allow us as humans to be responsive, not to monitor ourselves and for our minds to be creative and open. The only difference is improvisers train their brains to do this on a daily basis. Hypnosis kind of allows a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do that with ‘ordinary’ volunteers. Kind of ‘fast-tracking’ your mind to that state. Meaning that people who may have never stepped foot on a stage before will be singing, dancing and acting with some of the biggest and best comedic improvisers in the UK, making it all up on the spot, no preparation required, all improvised, in the moment…All thanks to hypnosis and the power it has to unlock the responsive, reactive, instinctive, creative part of our brains that until now only top improvisers have been able to train to utilise on command. And for people who already perform, it switches of ALL of the parts of your brain that monitor or judge yourself, effect your confidence and crush your creativity. It’s extremely liberating.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
Facebook: WhoseMind Twitter: @WhoseMindShow Instagram: @WhoseMind
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
It’s mesmerising, magical and life-affirmingly funny!