The lights dimmed and the roar of the audience permeated the room. The beat of the music bombarded everyone’s ears, and Charlotte Clarke (‘18) rose out of her seat confidently, momentarily taking on the role of a professional aerobics instructor. She arrogantly strut across stage, and her fellow students followed behind her doubtlessly. The music came to an abrupt stop, the audience silenced, and Clarke fell to embarrassment. She slumped back to her chair and shamefully sat down with her head in her hands.
Steve Coppola is a trained hypnotist who returned to Oyster River High School on Tuesday night for his fourth year performing hypnotism on our students. The hypnotism show has been a successful fundraiser for the junior class many years in a row, raising money primarily for prom and other junior funded events.
The high attendance each returning year is always a perk. “It’s really funny to watch people we know acting in ways they don’t normally,” said Julianna Caldicott (‘19). “I have attended every year because it’s constantly changing and never fails to make everyone laugh,” she added. Some people are doubtful of their peers when it comes to knowing if they’re faking being under the hypnotic state or not. It can be hard to differentiate those who are under hypnosis and those who are awake in a normal state. “I definitely think some of them were under hypnosis. Every year I begin to doubt it before I watch the show, and after I witness how everyone changes throughout hypnosis, I believe it,” added Caldicott.
The hypnotism process may appear to not work on everyone, but the truth is that some people take a longer time to be hypnotized than others. “Remember, not everyone wants to be hypnotized in front of a massive group of people,” Coppola said. He emphasized that you have to be open to the idea. Coppola noted that there’s often about twenty people on stage, and he has to narrow it down to the people who’re falling under a hypnotic state abruptly. Those who tend to daydream, sleepwalk, and have creative minds usually fall under hypnosis quicker than most.
There are signs Coppola inspects to cut down the contestants on the stage in order to produce an entertaining show with people fully under hypnosis. One tactic he uses is picking up people’s hands to feel if they are limp or tense; those who are tense are having trouble falling under a hypnotic state. He searches for rapid eye movement under his victim’s eyelids, rosy cheeks, what he calls a “hypnotic flush,” two distinct signs of which they are falling under hypnosis. Coppola explained that his motivation to come back each year is the kids; the appreciation he gets for operating the show is more than enough. “I have a good time, the kids have a good time, and who doesn’t like to have good time?” Coppola smiled. After working all day at his primary job as a physical therapist, this is a break at the end of his day and is boisterous for him.
After being under hypnosis, “most people feel unbelievable; they feel totally awake, although some may feel tired if they didn’t want to come out of the hypnotic state. They will sleep like they’ve never slept before. They feel stress free, just totally amazing,” explained Coppola. Clarke reiterated Coppola’s explanations by analyzing her feelings under hypnosis. “I definitely felt more relaxed and not nervous to be on stage. I felt really good and calm. I don’t remember the majority of the experience but I know it was a lot of good feelings,” she explained. Clarke mentioned that she felt exhausted after the show, and went straight to bed when she got home. She recommended the experience to everyone, even if they have doubts about it. She states that it was a beneficial and positive experience for her.
Writer: Aliyah Murphy
Picture Credits: Jae Fletcher