Curators have assembled restraints, love letters, scripts, press kits and handwritten descriptions of magic tricks for the very special exhibit.
Eric Colleary, Cline curator of Theater and Performing Arts, said Houdini stood out because of how he identified himself.
“Houdini was different than many others during his time for a number of reasons,” Colleary said. “He considered himself an illusionist, rather than a magician.”
The exhibit will include pieces related to Houdini’s debunking of spiritualism with a special presentation by Austin-based theater company The Hidden Room titled, Houdini Speaks to the Living. Based on correspondence, essays, diaries and photographs from the Ransom Center, the performance will pit Houdini against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on the issue of spiritualism.
And there is even more. The center will screen The Grim Game and a hold a cooking class based on the great performer’s favorite foods.
Magicians and chefs will learn to make chicken paprikash with fennel potatoes; Hungarian goulash with spatzel; and custard bread pudding with cherry sauce. We knew we liked Houdini but now we realize we would have loved to eat dinner with him. In fact, when we were younger, we were part of two person telepathy team known as Goulash and Spatzel. We were trying to break into the niche market of Hungarian food lovers who enjoyed poorly rehearsed mentalism routines. Surprisingly, it was not a success, but we ate well; so that was good.
From our perspective, it is heart-warming (in a good way, not like an organ transplant way) that Houdini continues to inspire and intrigue the general public.
“I’m very interested in illusionists’ performances and their ability to captivate and confuse audiences with acts that seem beyond the realm of possibility,” communication studies junior Alyssa Hollander said. “I even subscribed to a magic subreddit because I wanted to learn how to do card tricks.”
“Programs like these are not only fun and engaging, but they also help us to understand different facets of Houdini’s life and career that we may not have realized before,” Colleary said.
Check out the Ransom Center’s website for all of the details.