Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Houdini's Rider

This fantastic 'scene and prop. list' was written by Harry Houdini in the early 1900s and, just in case they didn't have a trap door, 100 gallons of boiling water and a strong batten to hand at all times, supplied to the venues at which he was to appear.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Boston Public Library.



Open and close in full stage. (Palace.)

Time of act—About 25 minutes.

As I leave stage soaking wet in bathing suit, required two dressing rooms nearest stage (6 in company). Couch in dressing room.

Require a small trap in center of stage, not less than 8 inches square (8x8 inches) two feet in rear of front cloth.

Must have use of Fire Hose to reach from side of stage, about 3 feet past center of stage., Hose is used in view of audience.

Please see to it that the water in Hose is run off. It must be clear, so that audience can see through same.

100 gallons of Boiling water (must be boiling).

We carry four brass tubs to hold this water, which must be filled ready on stage before each performance.

Prepare a chute, or get-away, for 250 gallons of water, from the small 8x8-inch trap to most convenient spot underneath stage. The outlet in our Water Cloth is 6 inches in Diameter.

Our Water Carpet must be flied after each show back of stage, for which we require a strong batten.

Two small occasional tables (gold if possible, and 4 gold chairs) and 18 Bent-wood Chairs.

A run or stair case, so that committee from audience can come over footlights onto stage.

A small, clean looking (mahogany colored if possible) step ladder about 3 feet 6 inches high.

Two 20 feet and two 16 feet lengths of Lumber 4 inches by 2 inches (4x2 inches), or battens would do, which must be 4 inches wide.