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TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
Finsbury Park Empire
The first ever sawing of a woman in half was performed here.
Location: St Thomas/Prah Road, Finsbury Park, London
Description: The Finsbury Park Empire was built by Frank Matcham for Moss Empires Ltd at a cost of 45,000 and opened on the 5th of September 1910 with a capacity of around 2000. The Theatre closed on the 7th of May 1960 and was demolished in 1965.
It saw many top showbiz acts of the time like Max Miller and Arthur Askey, but is renowned for being the first theatre where the saw-the-woman-in-half magic act was performed.
It was performed by PT Selbit on January 17th 1921 causing an immediate sensation, reviews called it a 'bloodthirsty ... hair raising' spectacle. Selbit responded with several publicity stunts such as ambulances parked outside the theatre. Between performances stage hands would take buckets of red liquid through the audience and pour into the gutter outside.
The act shut an attractive woman in a wooden box, with ropes holding her down, and cut the box in two. The audience loved it. Magicians everywhere rushed to make their own, bloodier versions.
Tagged in this Tour: Historic Magic Circle Tour