The work is killing. Must find a better way…
– Houdini’s Diary

It’s 1926. Michigan. Harry Houdini’s final performance, only you don’t know that at the time. You’re here to be amazed, to be awakened with wonder. But the man before you appears frail, and vulnerable. He falls, he fails, and you can’t tear your eyes away.

The same intrigue that hyped the man’s legendary illusions now follows him to a gradual death. Houdini was killed by his craft, a victim of his own relentless ambition. Or peritonitis, if you’re a stickler for the facts…

But Houdini didn’t die underwater, or in handcuffs, or in front of a gasping crowd. He died days later, in a quiet hospital room. There, he ate chop suey and confessed all of his doubts to a surgeon. The audience didn’t get to see that man – they only ever met the marvel.

With some theatrical sleight of hand, the mystics from Counterpilot uncover a mystery stranger than the man himself. Seeking humanness in wonder, we turn our spotlights to the audience. The voyeurs of mortality on the evening of the end.

Can we find ourselves in grand gestures and death-defying stunts? Is there compassion in such curiosity? Or else, what did audiences really want from Houdini?

And for that matter, what do you really want from this theatre of ours? Can we enthral you with our spectacle? Or do we need to die onstage?





Metro Arts Performance Season // 7 to 18 November 2017 – Presented by Counterpilot & Metro Arts



Writer and Director / Nathan Sibthorpe

Sound Design / Mike Willmett
Production Design / Sarah Winter
Lighting Design / Christine Felmingham
AV Design / Nevin Howell & Nathan Sibthorpe
Software Design / Clinton Freeman
Contraption Design / John Felmingham
Film Production / Optikal Bloc
Dramaturgy / Benjamin Knapton
Additional Contributions / Sandra Carluccio

Stage Performers / Toby Martin, Cam Clark, Elise Greig, Brad Haseman
Recorded Performers / Hugh Parker, Anna McGahan, Lucas Stibbard, Veronica Neave, Lauren Jackson

Stage & Production Manager / Nicole Neil
Assistant Director / Sean Dowling
Design Assistant / Jaimeson Gilders
Production ASM / Rebecca Minuti
Creative Development ASM / Jeremy Gordon

Marketing design / Sean Dowling



Spectate is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

Counterpilot is supported by the Queensland Governent through Arts Queensland.

Spectate is supported by Creative Sparks – a joint initiative of Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

Spectate is supported by Queensland Theatre through the Independent Artists @ Queensland Theatre initiative 2017.

Nathan Sibthorpe is supported by QUT Creative Industries as a recipient of the Dr. Don Batchelor Award for Drama Research, 2017.