Mnemonics in the Theater

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mnemonics in the Theater


performing acts based on the art of memorization; specially developed techniques and methods for facilitating memorization (for example, the “guessing” of numbers, names of objects, serial numbers on currency). Acts using mnemonics are usually performed by two entertainers, one of whom is planted among the spectators and asks questions, while the other “guesses” the answers. This specialized form of mnemonics is based on various systems of “keys” hidden in the formulation of the questions, intonations of the voice, speed of the conversation, and sometimes musical accompaniment.

Mnemonic techniques were known in antiquity and were used primarily by priests. Mnemonics was first used in variety theaters in the second half of the 19th century, and was later used in circuses. The act was advertised as “mind reading at a distance” and its performers were called clairvoyants. In the Soviet circus, mnemonic acts are presented in a light, amusing, often jocular form. Well-known performers of mnemonic acts have included Zhanna Diuklo, Arrago (R. S. Levitin), G. and R. Gregoli, N. Strait, Inza Sun, and G. D. Agaronov (the Agaronovs).


Getmanskii, M. Matematicheskie attraktsiony. [Moscow] 1928.
Luriia, A. R. Malen’kaia knizhka o bol’shotpamiati. Moscow, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.