After five years of conducting in-person séances at locations like the George Brown house in Toronto and Manchester Hill in Stittsville, Ont., mentalist Jaymes White has switched to an online forum for his next series.
The pandemic has provided a new challenge for the 33-year-old Ottawa native as he plans “Evoke” for virtual audiences via Zoom.
“When you look at the history of séances and the paranormal, it’s always connected to technology,” White said in an October phone interview on the same day that the provincial government announced a modified Stage 2 for Ottawa, Peel Region and Toronto. “When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, he believed you could connect with spirits through the telephone lines.
“We thought, Zoom is a new technology, let’s go with that.”
If your mind goes to Shudder’s film Host, don’t. White started pulling together the resources to get the show organized and set for the end of September with the 28-day modified lockdown in mind.
“I’m not a big fan of it just because they didn’t really do (a séance),” he admitted. “There was no explanation.”
It’s been a challenge for entertainers like White, who is used to surviving the next six months during COVID-19. It also persuaded him to give the online forum a shot.
“This may be my only opportunity to ever try something like this,” he said, adding that they will host only 10 people per night. “We want to keep it really intimate and small. Hopefully, it brings everyone together and not think about what’s going on in the world.”
The escape from the pandemic and ongoing social political issues facing the United States was an added impetus to the virtual séance.
But being a mentalist, a lot of White’s role of reading people’s reactions will be hampered by the lack of physical details, especially given within the 45-minute timeframe. Other woes may be related to the technology involved, such as poor connectivity, poor service and audio-video issues.
“I have to work pretty fast and pick up more than others. That’s going to be a fun game,” White said. “I can’t read them as well because we’re on screen. You don’t see their full bodies.”
White will host the event from his studio in Ottawa. And he’s hoping guests will be in tune to their surroundings.
“A lot of times, I have to geode them, push the suggestion into them. I want to reverse this to if they’re able to pick up the subtleties as we go,” he admitted. “A lot of times we have no idea if we’re connecting to someone or if we’re not connecting to someone.”
That’s not to say he doesn’t believe in mediums, but with a little bit of intuition, guests may just pick up an intersection in the communication.
Tickets are available for $24.99 via jaymeswhite.com. Zoom shows will run from Oct. 16 to Nov. 28.