Magicians to celebrate 100 years of ‘sensational' sawing-in-half trick

‘The illusion was one which immediately grabbed the public's attention in a sensational way,' said magician Charlie Burgess.

Magicians will celebrate a century of sawing people in half with an online event looking at the history of the trick.

This weekend will mark 100 years since PT Selbit completed the trick at the Finsbury Park Empire – it has been a mainstay of the magic scene ever since.

Charlie Burgess, an amateur magician from the Magic Circle, will be part of an online event hosted by the group to celebrate the milestone on Sunday.

Join us here on Sunday 17th January 6pm GMT,As The Magic Circle celebrates100 years of one of the most iconic…

Posted by The Magic Circle Unlocked on Friday, January 8, 2021

“We got together some historians to talk about the effect and it’s place and history,” Mr Burgess told the PA news agency. “(We will) also be showing some of those different effects that have been used over the years.

“The illusion was one which immediately grabbed the public’s attention in a sensational way. It became an iconic trick quite quickly and ownership of it was fought over by the British inventor and others who came up with different versions.

“The ultimate one has been David Copperfield, with the ‘death saw’, a massive chain saw. He gets cut in half, I don’t know how he does that – it’s sensational.”

The Magic Circle’s event, which is streamed on Facebook, gets under way at 6pm on Sunday January 17. The event will be joined by magic royalty, Debbie McGee, the widow of Paul Daniels.

Debbie McGee attending the 2002 TRIC (Television & Radio Industries Club) Awards at the Le Meridien Grosvenor House Hotel in London
(Myung Jung Kim/PA)

The event is open to the public – “which is rare for us,” says Mr Burgess – but why does the trick have such timeless appeal?

“It has stood the test of time because it’s the idea of such danger, and then there is a peaceful conclusion,” said Mr Burgess.

“You are watching someone being sawn in half and you are thinking ‘oh my god’, and that in itself is not a trick, you can do that and it wouldn’t be very nice.

“But putting them back together again – it’s perfect, you have drama and then you conclude in a peaceful way.”

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