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STEF'S SIDESPLITTING HYPNOSIS (article first published : 2006-02-3)

A show featuring a hypnotist with fellow stage performers being volunteers from the audience always promises a good evening's entertainment and Stef with his show at the Catalina Theatre is no exception.

This is the first time I have heard of him although he has been one of the top drawcards at the Grahamstown Arts Festival for the past few years. From the moment this effervescent entertainer bounces onto the stage he has the audience eating out of his hand. He asks for volunteers from the audience, without whom there could be no show, and without any pressure on anyone at all. Ideally he would like ten volunteers, as there might be a fallout if some are not susceptible to hypnosis. There were only eight volunteers tonight and four did not succumb to his hypnosis. Perhaps he needs to start with more but, as mentioned, he exerts no pressure on the audience, and it is entirely voluntary.

Stef then continued with his magic on these four subjects showing the power of hypnosis, explaining in his easy-going and very pleasant style what hypnosis is and what it is not, stressing that one cannot be made to do under hypnosis what one would not do normally, whether it be morally, by nature or on religious grounds - very reassuring for any hesitant volunteers. Indeed none of the subjects suffered any ill effects and all expressed how well they felt. He causes the volunteers to do all manner of activities to demonstrate the power of hypnotic suggestion and the natural morality of the subjects often shines through.

Particularly hilarious was his enactment of a scene from The Jerry Springer Show where he appointed one person as the cuckolded husband, another as the wayward wife and the third as the other man. It is hard to believe that the action wasn't scripted (as indeed it wasn't) as it was so well done. Another highlight was his suggestion to them that they had invented a particular object and they had to explain what it was - we have potential inventers in Durban, their imagination was amazing. An old standby of hypnotists is the participants eating a raw onion thinking it is an apple and this was also enacted.

Stef stresses that each show is different, and this can be believed as a great deal depends on the volunteers and they, of course, will be different every night. The show is fast moving with never a dull moment. It is really a good evening's entertainment with much laughter at the participants' expense but Stef ensures that there is nothing malicious or in bad taste. It is all good natured laughter with no embarrassment, a sure sign of a good entertainer. He is in complete control at all times.

Hypnosis is a powerful tool for good, for example in helping smokers quit or for people to stick to a diet and Stef mentions this. If these shows can remove some of the fears of hypnosis and reassure the public about its benefits, albeit in a humorous way, all the better.

Stephane Juncker, to give him his full name, was born in Belgium, matriculated in Johannesburg and now lives in Vredehoek, Cape Town while travelling and performing nationally and internationally. He speaks six languages fluently, viz. English, Afrikaans, French, Dutch, Spanish and German.

The show runs at the Catalina Theatre, Wilson's Wharf, from February 1 to 19 at 20h00 every Wednesday to Saturday and at 18h00 on Sundays. Tickets R60 (R50 concessions). Bookings and further information on 031 305 6889. Maurice Kort




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