Tantalizing, Tasty

‘Illusionist’s Table’ promises to amaze minds, mouths

Posted: January 26, 2018 at 1 a.m.

Courtesy Photo "Silven manages to weave a three-course meal and a couple of whiskey tastings into his mix of tricks, while subtly encouraging his guests to interact with one another. It somehow all flows naturally: Perhaps that's the true magic of the experience." -- Entertainment Weekly

Buckle up, Northwest Arkansas: You're about to be treated to a theatrical experience like none you've ever seen before.

Starting Tuesday, Potluck Arts will be presenting eight performances of mentalist Scott Silven's genre-defying production of "At the Illusionist's Table" at Brightwater in Bentonville.

FAQ

Potluck Arts:

‘At the Illusionist’s Table’

WHEN — 7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Feb. 2-3

WHERE — Brightwater, A Center for the Study of Food, 801 SE 8th St., Bentonville

COST — $230 (includes a three-course meal, wine and whiskey tastings)

INFO — potluckarts.org

"'At the Illusionist's Table' is the first 'Out of the Ordinary Experience' curated by Potluck Arts," says Potluck Arts' executive director, Jenni Taylor Swain. "'OOO' allows us to bring unusual and different contemporary arts experiences that take audiences beyond the traditional performance space."

Out of the ordinary, indeed: Silven will collaborate with Chef Paul Allen at Brightwater to present a three-course dinner -- complete with whiskey and wine tastings -- alongside a performance that includes Silven's unique brand of mentalism.

"Mentalism, in my opinion, is a feature of the mind," says the Scotland-born Silven, his brogue thick and charming. He says his production was born out of a sincere desire to form a closer connection with an audience. "I use a variety of techniques -- hypnosis, traditional magic, psychology and my training in contemporary performance -- I weave all of those elements together to create the experience. It's all about the power of your mind, what you're capable of and what you can achieve."

Silven is fresh off a three-month run of the show off-Broadway, where his performance was reviewed by high-profile publications like People, Town and Country and Entertainment Weekly. The last called Silven "charming" with a "humble warmth and personal touch" and decreed that his performance was "not to be missed."

Silven says he first became intrigued by magic at the age of 4, when his grandfather showed him a traditional magic trick. He started studying magic techniques from that point forward. His interest in psychology hit when he was 15, and an enchantment with and skill in hypnotism was soon to follow.

"I was fascinated by the human mind, and so I was seeking out knowledge and experiences that would allow me to tap into that," says Silven. "It was only when I was studying contemporary performance that I realized that taking all of these elements together could create a unique performance experience that I had never seen before.

"We've all heard of dinner theater, but I thought that this was a way of pushing it further -- by integrating illusion and mentalism, and by making the audience the crux of the experience."

Silven says the element of food is an important part of the performance, and he takes pains to find the appropriate, high-quality dining partners.

"One of my priorities is working with world-class chefs and finding the food that works in tandem with the effects and with the experience," he says. "We've been careful to select, really, the best chefs and the best places for it. That's why we found Brightwater.

"The food is directly woven into the effects by manipulating and inspiring the audience's senses. The food has to be as unexpected and thrilling as, hopefully, the illusions are."

NAN What's Up on 01/26/2018