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On The Table Read, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, hypnotist Scott McFall talks about his current show, Perceptioneering, and the work that goes into hypnosis and mentalism performances.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Scott McFall about his life and career in hypnosis and mentalism, what inspires him, and the work that goes into his new show, Perceptioneering.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
For the past 30 years, I’ve worked with thousands of individuals across the world, helping them heal and improve their lives through hypnosis and private consultation. My three-decades-long career began in entertainment through hypnosis and mentalism shows.
What is the name of your show?
Currently, the name of this set of productions and seminars is Perceptioneering.
How did you come up with that name?
Helping people to have broad skills to perceive the world around them, to understand their own perception while being amazed and entertained – seems to be captured by that word.
What artform are you showcasing Perceptioneering?
Mentalism, hypnosis and the way we interact with the world and others around us.
When did you first start performing?
As a young person, I was involved in theater through Shade Tree Players, a traveling group. At the time, it was run by a nun and an admissions director of a local college. The confidence built performing in front of audiences created the belief that you can learn quickly. Then I became certified in hypnotism in the 1980s; shows, demonstrations of hypnosis, and mentalism became a big part of my career.
What inspired you to get into this art form?
Heart surgeries and other health issues as a young person set me up to adore understanding how our mind maps the world around us. Sitting around watching people and witnessing my own coping with mortality as a kid began the process. A passion for entertaining using our own mind as the canvas soon followed.
What lessons have you taken to learn your art or are you self-taught?
An ICU nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota taught me hypnotic techniques to distract myself from pain during my time in intensive care when I was 11 years old. I later trained at various theater institutions, the American Institute of Hypnotherapy, the Oldenburg Clinic, and more.
Also, I’ve used many directors and mentors. In the performing arts, my current mentor is Jeff McBride, a fantastic facilitator for speakers and entertainers in Las Vegas. He assists in the development of the shows and speaking that I do for groups. As a human development mentor, the late marketing guru Russell Yarnell was a kick in the pants. Ormond McGill and California trainer Richard Neves were both kind and healing souls that took me quite a distance.
How has Perceptioneering changed or developed since you started?
When I began the show had a lot of props and production. Over the years, the audience themselves have become the real stars. I work to have very little with me – it’s just the audience and myself going on a journey of discovery.
How much of Perceptioneering is scripted and how much is freestyle?
80% of the show is freestyle and 20% is scripted. Being spontaneous is best!
How many people are involved in putting Perceptioneering together?
There are agents and designers, music people, directors, and on and on.
How much music is involved in Perceptioneering?
The background and mood music of course. I also use guest musicians from time to time.
How many set pieces and props are involved in your performance?
As few as humanly possible. Authenticity with the people is the main focus.
Are your family and friends supportive of your work?
I have fantastic family and friends who provide amazing support.
How do you promote Perceptioneering and find a new audience?
Over the years, I’ve done television appearances, showcases, radio, social media, executive invitations, and worked with outside producers and public relations people. The truth is though, that it’s usually purchases simply because someone saw the show.
Are you proud of Perceptioneering and what you’ve achieved so far?
I am very proud of the entertainment and motivation work, yes. A sense of purpose is very important isn’t it?
Do you have any goals for the future you can share with us?
Many of my current fans would like to see a weekly show reading of audience members to showcase the ways that perception can be manipulated. We shall see…maybe!
Do you have any special career highlights you’d love to experience again?
Touring colleges and working large events has and always will be a lot of fun.
My favorite moment as an entertainer was opening for Johnny Cash as a last-minute replacement in Minot, ND. Clinically, my favorite experience was a forensic case in which a man was found beaten within an inch of his life in his garage. He could not remember what happened. When he was hypnotized, he first thought it was aliens that beat him, then fictional characters. After repeating the process several times, he could admit to himself that it was his next-door neighbor and his wife that had committed the crime. I think the case showed me how foolish some investigators happen to be, they don’t really realize how many times a person who doesn’t want to face what the truth is can imagine almost anything, even with hypnosis.
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