Mentalist Joshua Kane brings tricks to the Ridgefield Playhouse

As a child growing up in Westport, Joshua Kane was always interested in magic but it’s perhaps the interesting way he earned his gym credit at Staples High School — an independent study of juggling and fire eating — that set him on his path as a mentalist. It was also in his teen years he met Gary Lee Williams (stage performer and former bodyguard to the Dalai Lama), who mentored him in mentalism. Kane’s show, Borders of the Mind, will come to the Ridgefield Playhouse on Feb. 2, when he invites audiences to discover their hidden abilities and witness “mind-bending feats of psychic phenomena.” Kane spoke with Andrea Valluzzo about the inspiration for the show.

Andrea Valluzzo: How did you get started?

Joshua Kane: My route as an actor was a little bit different than most people. My face and my voice did not match up … so I started doing one-man theater shows and dramatic recitations. I spent many years traveling the country performing the written works of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens and other authors. One presenter, who after many years of having all my different shows, asked me if there was something I’d always wanted to do but had never done. I told her about how Gary Lee had trained me and she invited me to put together the first performance of what became Borders of the Mind in the summer of 2005.

AV: How would you describe this show?

JK: This is a multi-generational, family show. The show is ephemeral, it’s never the same show twice. Approximately 40 volunteers will have the chance to come up on stage and take place in a series of experiments and the entire audience will experience things from their seat. The show isn’t about me, the show is about the incredible people who are attracted to come together for family entertainment and to make something happen in real time. The theme of the show is “discover your inner superhero” and my superpower is to discover the latent psychic abilities or special abilities of the people in the audience.

AV: Who is this show for?

JK: I always like to say the show is for everyone who wishes they had gotten a letter to Hogwarts. Synchronicity is a big theme of the evening: when things line up and it’s about being present. When we are at the theater being present, it changes the event. It’s the alchemy that makes the magic happen. This event is also meant to encourage conversation, get people talking and have a lot of fun.

AV: Are you psychic?

JK: When people ask that question, it’s an interesting one because to some people that means: Do you talk to the dead? I talk to the dead but they don’t answer. When we call it a psychic show for the whole family, I use my sense to create the illusion of an extra sense. We’ve all had those incredible moments of synchronicity happen when we know who’s calling on the phone before we answer and I’m not talking about Caller ID. Those moments genuinely happen and this show is all about those moments.

AV: What does the phrase, Borders of the Mind, mean to you?

JK: That’s fabulous, that’s the first time anyone has asked me that question. The original title for the show was Smoke and Mirrors and was about the idea of how confusions and deceptions are created. That was the wrong flavor. Borders of the Mind came about as a title because the show is about expanding the limits of what we believe can happen for ourselves and with other people. It’s about the willingness to say that we all have belief systems that limit us, lock into place and if we are willing to change a belief for a moment, ask a new question, then vast new territories of opportunity and connection become available to us.

AV: How you do choose people to pull on stage?

JK: A lot of it is done randomly but it’s randomized among the people who want to come up and play. Nobody is ever put on the spot in my show. I like to think of the show as little bit like Peter Pan in some ways. We enter the theater and we willingly suspend our disbelief. We will be playing a series of games together and the more fair we play together and with greater spirit, the more interesting the results are that happen. And if there’s anyone in the audience who would not clap for Tinkerbell at the end of Peter Pan well, then perhaps they should be someplace else.