“Theater is magic and magic is theater.” — Vinny DePonto

What comes to mind when you hear the word “mentalism”? Acclaimed mentalist (and Mindplay’s creator, co-writer, and performer) Vinny DePonto describes it as, “anything that deals with mind reading, mind control, telepathy… it is a subset of magic that deals with tricks of the mind… [and] particularly deals with the audience’s thoughts” (LA Times Today).

Referred to as contemporary mentalists, Vinny’s profession specializes in performing mental feats in front of audiences. While some individuals group modern mentalists and magicians together, it’s important to note the difference: mentalists prioritize delving into the psychology of the audience rather than executing flashy illusionary tricks. As he clarified at the Arena Stage staff meet-and-greet, “It is not magic, but it is magical.”

Performing mentalists focus on the audience’s thoughts as the premise of their shows, but rarely does the audience see into the mind of mentalists themselves. Mindplay is unique in this way—while it investigates and explores the mysteries of participants’ minds, it also reveals pieces of DePonto’s own thoughts.

Hailed as a “warmly inviting, nostalgia-ridden, gem of a performance” (BroadwayWorld), Mindplay audiences can expect this interactive show to include psychological tricks, visual art, and immersive storytelling. They can also expect to leave feeling closer to the charming DePonto and to each other.

“What I love about mentalism is that there’s still lots of mystery around the nomenclature of it, and it doesn’t necessarily trigger the idea of a magician in their head,” shared DePonto. “But it deals with very human things, thoughts and feelings, so that we can make beautiful stories out of it.”

Experience the beauty of mentalism at DePonto’s Mindplay at Arena Stage, now through March 3!

Vinny DePonto in Mindplay at Geffen Playhouse. Photo by Jeff Lorch.