EDINBURGH 2016: BWW Q&A - Strictly Come Trancing
BWW speaks to hypnotist Ben Dali ahead of his 2016 edfringe show Strictly Come Trancing.
Tell us a little about your show Strictly Come Trancing.
Strictly Come Trancing Hypnosis Show is what Edinburgh Fringe is all about! It's a uniquely unpredictable, hilarious and fully interactive show that is completely unlike anything else at the fringe. Genuinely :-)
One of those rare gems that you seldom get a chance to see any other time or place - certainly not on such a grand scale, as Edinburgh has the best hypnotic volunteers in the world. Audience members are invited to volunteer, induced into trance live on stage, then taken through a series of contemporary groundbreaking hypnotic sketches.
How do you bring hypnosis into the 21st century?
Most hypnotists have been doing the same sketches for over 100 years, and the artform has sadly shuddered to a halt this past generation, but with the evolution of technology and entertainment there's a call for its modernisation. So I've got pieces in the show based around Pokemon, the Rio Olympics, Star Wars (complete with the mask made famous by Facebook's Chewbacca Mom) and the current state of British politics.
I'll also be doing something no other hypnotist has ever done on stage in providing evidence that freewill exists under hypnosis. Plus, if this year brings sufficient success I'm looking to add robots and new gadgets in for 2017!
How worried do I need to be about audience participation?
0% - nobody is hypnotised against their will, in fact hypnosis is easy to resist if desired. There is an introduction, and discussion about the science behind hypnosis, perhaps a test for the whole audience to see how hypnotisable everyone is. But the only people who get put into trance are the ones who actively volunteer themselves by coming on stage when invited.
Once up there everyone is treated with the utmost respect. No nudity, no humiliation, no secrets. There is no greater honour than when a stranger demonstrates trust and faith in me by allowing me partial control of their unconscious mind. It is my duty to repay them, and the audiences who have chosen to see me over 3000 other shows, with a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Anything less than that would be an abuse of my powers.
What sets Strictly Come Trancing aside from other shows at this years festival?
As a hypnosis show, you have two ways of enjoying Strictly Come Trancing. You can join me on stage and star in the show, exploring your own mind and creativity, learning new mental skills and gaining an experience that will stay with you for decades. Alternatively stay in the audience and watch your friends/family/strangers taking on incredible new roles - heck, you can even come back and volunteer the next day!
It's the only hypnosis show from last year and has started a trend for 2016. And as every one of my 28 hour-long performances is tailored to the audience and volunteers on the day, it's got a repeat-viewing factor like no other. Even though there are so many other shows to choose from there were people who came back to see me 3 or 4 times last year, that's about as big a compliment as an Edinburgh performer can receive.
Who would you recommend comes to see Strictly Come Trancing?
Anyone who wants to experiment with new forms of entertainment, or to see something that they might not think to, or get the opportunity to, anywhere else, any other time of the year.
Fans of Pokemon, Olympics or Star Wars who could find themselves catching rare specimens in Pokeballs, winning Gold Medals, or meeting their favourite characters from a galaxy far, far away.
Stag/hen parties, fans of cabaret and variety, Psychology/Science students, hypnotic sceptics who deny its existence but have never seen it live.
Fans of Reality or Daytime Television should come and check it out, they might recognise me from Take Me Out, Countdown and The Chase this year.
But the people who will benefit from it most are festival performers. I offer on stage therapeutic assistance with all the pressures of working at Edinburgh and guarantee successful volunteers a boost in morale, workrate and confidence. I helped a lot of people last year - individuals struggling with the festival and groups of performers who used the show as a bonding experience. All volunteers from the public are also given happiness boosts to make their whole Fringe experience even better.