Just prior to your performance, locate the dignitary and have him open the carton and remove the nested chests. Take the carton and instruct the dignitary to carefully hold the locked chests until he or she is called upon to bring them on stage during your performance. Also, check the borrowed portable casette player to make sure that it works and has fresh batteries. Always carry a supply of AA, AAA, C and D batteries, just in case. On your table, you should have the borrowed casette player with the volume turned up to maximum, the folded newspaper and the tray. Place the key to the chest in your pocket. To facilitate finding the small key, attach a colorful ribbon or gold chain to it.
As previously outlined, introduce the dignitary and have him bring the locked chests on stage and place them on the tray. Recap what transpired days or weeks ago (as the case may be) when the dignitary signed an audio casette and locked it inside two nested, wooden chests. Have the dignitary confirm that what you have just said is absolutely correct. Continue by stating that you have not come near or touched the chests since they were remanded to the custody of the dignitary, days or weeks prior to the performance. Again ask the dignitary to confirm that what you have said is true.
Remove the key and hand it to the dignitary, instructing him to unlock the large chest. Move the large chest to the non-trap end of the tray. Have the dignitary open the large chest and remove the small chest by the handle and place it along side of the large chest. Remove the key from the lock of the large chest and place it temporarily in your pocket.
You are now going to eject the audio cassette (or leather case) from the tray into the small chest while having the dignitary read aloud what's written on the two labels affixed to the brass plates on top of both chests. The dignitary should be on the right side of the table and you on the left as the audience sees it.
At this point, you can patter that several days or weeks ago, an object was locked inside the small chest. Pick up the tray with your fingers are underneath, positioned under the trapdoor. By pressing your thumbs tightly against the chests, they are trapped against the moulding around the tray. In other words, at this point, you can tilt the tray so that it is almost perpendicular with the floor, without either chest moving.
Explain that, sometime prior to the performance, the dignitary locked an object inside two wooden chests after writing something on the labels affixed to the brass plates on each chest. As you state this, open the secret compartment which will enter the bottom of the small chest. Holding the secret compartment in an upright position, tilt the tray until it is practically perpendicular with the floor, ostensibly to allow the audience to see the labels on top of both chests. As you do this, the cassette will slide out of the tray into the small chest!
Be sure to keep the front edge of the tray as parallel with the floor as possible when you tilt it, in order to keep the cassette from getting hung up as it exits the secret compartment and enters the small chest. Any noise resulting from the cassette moving inside the chest will not matter; it would normally occur if there was a loose object inside the chest and you tilted the tray.
The dirty deed is done. Immediately right the tray and place it on your table. Move away from the table at least three or four feet. Ask the dignitary to read aloud what he wrote on the label affixed to the top of the large chest. Have him confirm that the signature on the label affixed to the small chest is his. (Note: It is imperative that you practice this seemingly casual sequence of actions until you have mastered both the movement and timing to perfection. Everything should be smooth and relaxed.)
Have a second spectator assist by picking up the folded newspaper from the table. Assuming that you've predicted the outcome of a major sporting event, have the spectator turn to the first page of the sports section and hold it up so the audience can see a headline which has been circled with a marking pen. Position the dignitary to the left of the table and the second spectator holding the newspaper to the right of the table as the audience sees it. Remove the key from your pocket and hand it to the dignitary. Have him unlock the small chest, open the lid, and reach inside to remove the contents, an audio cassette. Your audience will remember that you are nowhere near the chest. Have the dignitary confirm that the signature on the cassette is the one he placed there days or weeks prior to the performance.
Have the dignitary insert the audio cassette in the borrowed cassette player and press "play." If necessary, hold the microphone near the cassette to amplify the sound and facilitate the audience hearing your prediction. When the recording is over and the applause has subsided, open the cassette player and remove the cassette. Hand it to the dignitary as a souvenir of an auspicious occasion. Thank both of your participants and have them return to their seats as you prompt the audience to give them a nice round of applause.
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Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.