The light that was emitted by the magnificent, heavy chandeliers
of the Paris municipal theater was slowly dimmed and finally turned
off. The talk of the crowd turned into whispers and the last popcorn
bags were crumpled up. A bright spotlight pointed at the curtain
on the stage. The red drapes parted as if moved by an invisible
hand and a young woman appeared with a shining smile that exposed
her white teeth. She wore thick make-up and colorful feathers
adorned her head. The skimpy costume glistened silvern and golden
in the blazing light and pearls of sweat formed on her forehead.
The announcer took hold of a microphone: "Bon soir, good
evening, ladies and gentlemen. I welcome you to tonight's entertainment
with magicians and artists from all over the world." After
she had announced the programme and arranged streaks of her black
hair, she said in a different tone of voice: "First I have
the pleasure to introduce to you Monsieur Lars Törka from
Sweden. He has quite an act. Let yourselves be taken by surprise!"
Now she explained some of the artist's background. A general murmur
went through the audience as a yellow spotlight was aimed at a
tall, blond person in a tuxedo. To begin with, the magician performed
some simple illusions with a top hat, scarves and a pigeon. Then
he made card decks disappear and had them reappear in duplicate
and then he showed off some skillful handling of them. Under a
soft applause he exited the stage and the announcer, having rid
of the feathers, stood at the edge of the stage and put on her
usual smile. "I hope you enjoyed this. Next are Mr. and Mrs.
Hammet from England who will showcase their trained dogs."
She disappeared again and right away two people dressed in British
fashion came out accompanied by six dressed-up poodles that began
climbing around a variety of gymnastic racks and bars. Secretly
they were bribed, so to speak, with chunks of food. Now they showed
even more acrobatics. The highlight was a three-tier pyramid.
Under numerous applause the troupe left the stage. Another magician
followed who showed tricks with fire. On his palm a blue flame
flickered that seconds later continued to burn in a top hat and
landed on his hair without burning it.
The performances got more exclusive and exotic each time and the
audience applauded ever more frantically. The young lady appeared
between each segment and added the appropriate commentary. After
a juggler there was an intermission and the spectators started
to chat. A few made their ways through the aisles and left the
room. At the box office a few people still waited for tickets
to at least catch the second part of the show. There were hardly
any people on the streets.
After the sound of a gong the people returned to their seats and
glanced impatiently at the closed curtain. At the ceiling clouds
of smoke swirled and the small air conditioning hardly provided
enough fresh air. It was hot and stuffy. But the spectators hardly
noticed it as they were under the spell of the artists. The lights
went out again and the announcer stood at the edge of the stage
again. She had changed costumes. Now she wore a long evening gown.
"Our programme now continues with Chen Hung from Japan. He's
practiced the art of the fakirs for years. Here is Chen Hung."
Accompanied by oriental music the Japanese peeled out of the background.
He looked like an Indian and of course wore a turban. First he
extinguished torches with his mouth. Then he spit a huge cloud
of fire out of his mouth and sat on a board with nails. Finally,
he charmed a snake that slowly crawled out of a basket and obediently
wiggled its way back in. Thundering applause followed. Quickly
the board with nails, the basket and all the other utensils were
carried off stage by assistants. After a few card tricks the artist
again disappeared in the black background.
"And now we are nearing the completion of tonight's events,"
the announcer proclaimed, "but first the great Mr. Blossom
Woolworth from Richmond will introduce himself to you and take
you by surprise with his tricks. Stage ready for the master of
magic." A large number of helpers put a small table with
utensils on a podium on the stage.
Mysteriously the magician stood on the stage and the audience
held its breath. A quick hiss and he held a tray in his hands
that was loaded with three glasses that were empty. Even though
that wasn't much of a trick yet, the audience was almost put under
a spell by the hiss. He poured the first glass over the second
and out of nowhere it filled with a green liquid that, poured
into the third glass, turned blue and when poured back became
invisible, therefore disappeared, again. He astonished the audience
with many more magic tricks. Everybody stared at the stage with
great interest. A coffin-shaped, rectangular box was put onto
two supports after the table had been carried away. The announcer
who obviously was going to be the assistant for the next trick
stepped out of the black background, that was soaked in clouds
of fog, and climbed into the box with attractive motion and the
well-known smile. Under the watching eyes of the spectators the
magician closed the lid of the box. The announcer's feet stuck
out at one end and her head at the other end. The magician was
handed a saw that he aligned with a notch at the center and started
moving it back and forth. Saw dust fell to the stage floor.
After five minutes of total suspense he had sawed all the way
through the box. One could still see the head that quivered slightly
and the feet at the ends. Quickly someone took the saw from him.
Accompanied by some mumbo-jumbo he folded the two halves apart.
Mechanically the audience started applauding but soon it quieted
down as blood was dripping from the coffin halves and innards
became visible. The two halves stood separated on the podium.
The head hung out of one end, then the body was interrupted and
two feet protruded at the other end. The magician disappeared
victoriously in the black background that was soaked in clouds
Copyright © December 1980, Wasty, Murder On Stage
German title: Der Auftritt des Magiers
Reading time: approx. 5 1/2 minutes
Last updated February 12, 2001 by Martin Mathis, e-mail lastbandit.com