Potential as performanceHypnosis show at the Waldo
Waldoboro — The last time Roderick Russell came to the Midcoast, he put on an awe (and “aiyeee!”) inspiring sword swallowing show. On Saturday, Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m., he hopes to really pack the Waldo Theatre for something that takes even more mind over matter — hypnosis.
The nationally touring artist and clinical hypnotherapist likes to bring lots of the audience up on stage, so a big house makes for the right mix of participation and reaction. And that reaction tends to be loud and spontaneous.
“It is so much fun! People go home with their stomachs hurting and their cheeks sore from laughing so much,” said Russell, who lives in Vermont but travels all over the country and sometimes beyond. He is pleased to be asked back to the Waldo.
“It's such a great venue with such great people,” he said.
Russell, who has been performing for 14 years, said that most of his bookings are repeats so he knows people enjoy what he does. How he got into his unusual life’s work, however, had nothing to do with show business.
“I had no interest in performing whatsoever. It was my own personal interest in pushing my limits as a human being. I’m interested in the nature of human consciousness, the nature of human experience,” he said.
In his quest to determine how much of his own experience of life he had influence over, he began setting goals for himself. As he met them, he set bigger and bigger ones. The art of sword swallowing was one such goal.
“And then I thought, you know, people would like to see this,” he said.
People who watch the Discovery Channel see a fair amount of Russell, who often shows up in documentaries on hypnosis and explorations of human potential.
“They have a couple of days of stock footage of me; I get no royalties, but I build my resume without doing any work,” he said with a laugh.
His interactions with “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!” are more direct. He is cited in a couple of the books, has appeared on related television programs and occasionally performs at the Ripley’s locations. While he also tours with his sword swallowing and “mind reading” shows, the hypnosis show he is bringing to the Waldo is arguably his favorite.
“I adore it and refuse to follow one of the others with it because it’s so funny, there’s no way to top it,” he said.
Russell knows some people are afraid of hypnosis and is quick to make clear his show is fun and family-friendly entertainment. He works strictly with volunteers, does not compel anyone to participate. He points out that no one can be “forced” by hypnosis to do anything they are fundamentally opposed to.
“People do lose some of their inhibitions, and normally reserved people doing crazy, outlandish things is fun to watch,” he said.
The show at the Waldo will run about 90 minutes. Russell performs as a solo artist, but the hypnosis show audience becomes his performing partner as it were. One reason he likes this show so much, he said, is because it is always different because of his temporary troupe.
“It’s high energy, with music and wacky, zany stuff — funny and silly is the point,” he said.
Tickets, $10, will be available at the door of the Waldo, 916 Main St./Route 1, and may be reserved in advance by calling 832-6060. For more information about Russell, visit roderickrussell.com.
Courier Publications' A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.