When we think of magicians there are many “safe” tricks that they always have up their sleeve. Some involved cards, others involve a bunny out of a hat, and others involve sawing a person in half!
A hundred years ago one magician called Percy Thomas Tibbles pretty much literally sawed through a wooden box, that contained a woman.
100 years ago, as it still is today, this illusion is quite a sensational one, performed and tweaked according to the magician’s wishes and desires, and even with varying degrees of blood sometimes. We have all sat to watch someone being but in half and miraculously put back together.
The illusion was invented by Tibbles, whose stage name was PT Selbit, and was first performed at the Finsbury Park Empire, in north London, on January 17th, 1921.
On Sunday, January 17th, the Magic Circle will mark the centenary of sawing someone in half, an illusion as iconic, its president Noel Britten says, as pulling a rabbit from a hat.
In a series of online events, the Magic Circle will tell stories about the history of the illusion, such as the time that the BBC shocked the US in 1956 by airing a Panorama programme featuring the Great Sorcar slicing a woman in half with a circular saw, because, you know, variety is the spice of life.
Sorcar, the Indian magician, cuts his assistant Dipty Dey in half in London in 1956.
Photograph: Terry Fincher/Keystone/Getty
At the time, as the show was live and ran out of air time, the host had stepped in to say goodbye, before the woman came back to life, leading to the BBC switchboard getting jammed up with people thinking that they had just witnessed a murder.
The US magician David Copperfield will show viewers around his magic museum in Las Vegas and talk about his interpretation, using a huge “death saw” that cut through him after he failed to escape the table.
Malta’s very own magicians are no strangers to this illusion, with one of Malta’s legends, Vanni Pule even attempting to saw a woman vertically on Live TV, and as always, he always delivers and never fails to impress us all!