Nat Lawson isn’t a hypnotist, a psychic, or a mind reader. He’s a cognitive entertainer, and he’s the only one in the world.
Seventeen-year-old Lawson is bringing his brand-new show to the Grange Hall this Tuesday, August 8, at 7:30 pm, presented by the West Tisbury Library Foundation. The show is called “Anomaly” — a fitting title for a one-of-a-kind entertainer.
“‘Anomaly’ is the first cognitive entertainment show in the world,” Lawson said in an interview with The Times. “It uses an integration of hypnosis, memory techniques, influenced readings, rapid calculation, and some other fun stuff that you have to see the show to find out about.”
Last summer Lawson, grandson of David McCullough, performed “Perceptions” for a sold-out crowd at the Grange Hall, and he’s hoping for a similar turnout. “Perceptions” was a mentalism show, which isn’t how he defines his work anymore. “Last year’s show was basically my ability to read people, and only centered around that,” he said.
The show will also be different because it is entirely original, and draws from stories of his life.
“It’s sort of an autobiography,” Lawson said. “Each effect builds through a time in my life, from indoor recess in first grade, to the moment I arrive at that stage. The second act is me explaining what I see when I look at a group of people — which is very different than what most people see.”
Lawson can’t say that he’s met very many people like him, “but it’s amazing what you can learn from books,” he said.
Lawson reads a lot about a lot, and that’s how he learns about entertainers like himself. He spent the past 11 months in Argentina with a Rotary Youth Exchange program, so that reading has even extended beyond the English language.
“I had an entirely new project I was working on down there called ‘Habilidades,’ which means abilities in Spanish,” Lawson said. “It was a series of videos demonstrating different, noncommunicative mental abilities. These are things I can do alone in a room. It’s me taking control of my brain.”
This development brought his work from mentalism to cognitive entertainment — a term he coined to better express exactly what he does.
Lawson’s work appears on his website, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram pages, and his following grows every day. He returned home from South America a little over a week ago, and is jumping right into “Anomaly.” The tour debuts in Islesboro, Maine, on August 3.
“A lot will change after the first show,” he said. “I haven’t hammered out the details yet. I can only plan so much when there’s so much audience involvement.” According to Lawson, 20 to 23 audience members will be onstage participating during the show.
After the “Anomaly” tour, Lawson plans to study psychology at at University of Texas, Austin, in the fall. He’s also hoping to break a Guinness Book of World Records for the most objects memorized in order. According to Lawson, the record is 470 objects. “I’d like to break 500 at some point this winter,” he said.
What an anomaly.