There was an impatient buzz swirling through the sold-out crowd at Byrdcliffe Kleinert/ James Center for the Arts in Woodstock last Friday night (Feb. 22) for The Process: Lucas Handwerker. I overhead one woman whisper, "He has been doing this since he was eight!" I was among the curious. The crowd applauded when 19-year-old Lucas Handwerker appeared on the small stage. He asked all those who believe that certain people carry psychic powers to raise their hands. He then reassured those people that was not his purpose. Instead of predicting our futures, he is going to lead us through a journey of the mind, so he invited us to go along. My mind was open to wherever this boyish oracle was going to lead it.
He asked us to write down our dream job on an index card, and summoned four volunteers to go on stage so he could figure out which dream job went with which person. He guessed correctly, giving us insight into what their body language revealed. (Tip: when you stop getting body language cues, look at the person's feet!)
Then audience members were asked to write down a "Will I Ever" type question on an index card, and he came close to pinpointing the man sitting a few seats away from me who was dreaming of a beach house. Then, we were asked to write down our biggest fear, and Handwerker led the audience through a mental exercise to help us shed our greatest fear.
The evening was fast paced, and I wanted to take notes, but I didn't want to draw attention to myself. (The last thing I wanted was to be targeted to get on stage with "Public Speaking" scrawled on my index card as my biggest fear). At times Handwerker paced a bit, and played chess. Besides the climactic ending, which I won't give away, the most memorable part was when volunteers from the audience were blind-folded while they practiced "free writing" and "free drawing" in front of the audience. My only involvement was that I was one of the eight who were asked to pick a six-digit number.
The Process definitely made me think, "How does he do that?" Before going to sleep that night I was trying to figure out his secrets. How did he know that woman's name? Does he just have a knack for knowing which women are named Donna? Well, Donna is a common enough name and all the Donna's I know are super nice, strong friendly women, but how could he know for sure? Okay, I guess he is plugged into our brainwaves somehow.
All I know is that Lucas Handwerker did captivate the audience in Woodstock. He has a very unassuming stage presence. His confidence comes across, but he is self-deprecating, and funny at times. What will Handwerker be up to 10 years from now? I predict he will be performing in front of bigger crowds. He just launched a Kick Starter campaign to raise money for a feature length film on his work (Discover The Hidden Power of Your Mind to be presented at the Woodstock Film Festival). Have you seen Lucas Handwerker perform? What did you think?
Read Chronogram's profile of Lucas Handwerker here.