The Cabinet Seance

This seance is especially good for the stage, although it may be done in the parlor. It enables the performer to carry on his work in full light without being detected.


Performer is tied to a chair with tapes or soft clothesline and is placed inside a cabinet — or a curtain is drawn in front of him. A cane placed in his lap mysteriously appears over the front curtain. A tambourine and bell, placed in cabinet, jingle and ring in a baffling manner. A glass of water placed on performer's lap vanishes and glass is found in performer's mouth. A slate placed on his lap is found with a message written on it. At conclusion, performer is still seen to be tied securely.


1 -- Several yards of half-inch tape or soft white clothesline, cut into about three-foot lengths.

3 -- Tambourine, bell, cane, glass of water, and slate with chalk.

4 -- A cabinet with metal or wooden frame and covered with cloth. A draw curtain should be in front of cabinet. Cabinet should be large enough to hold a chair with a person sitting in it.

5 -- If a cabinet cannot be used, arrange a small curtain suspended from a wire or rope behind which performer's movements can be concealed.


To Prepare:

The seance itself is practically impromptu. However, if you desire to use a cabinet, you may have it built.

A good metal worker or carpenter can fix up a frame for you. This should be of metal pipe or of wood and so arranged that it can be easily taken apart and put together. It should be made to fold up so that it can be packed for carrying from place to place.

Figure 26 is a diagram, suggesting the frame which may be used for cabinet.

Cabinet should then be covered with cloth -- fitting it over the sides and back. It may also be stretched over the top. Cloth covering should be so arranged as to be easily put on frame and removed.

Figure 27.

About a foot from top of frame stretch a wire across front of cabinet. Make a curtain with curtain rings at top to be strung on this wire. Attach curtain to one side of cabinet to prevent exposure when curtain is drawn across front of cabinet.

Figure 2 8.

The cabinet is merely a means of covering your movements in the seance but it also adds good Showmanship. When you cannot use a cabinet, you can get a good effect by just stretching a wire across the room or stage with curtain suspended from it by curtain rings. Curtain need not extend all the way to the floor. Assistant can slide this curtain back and forth in front of you, as required.

Figure 29.

To Perform:

Figure 31.

Let us say that you will use the cabinet. Have a chair nearby with tambourine, bell, etc., on it -- also the tapes or rope. Suppose we use soft white clothesline. Also have a chair for you to sit on. Your assistant should be at hand to help you.

"In presenting a seance of this kind, it is necessary to go into seclusion. If I did so in a natural manner, you would be suspicious of me. You would think that I performed things myself and made good use of my hands. Therefore, in order to convince you that there are certain other forces at work, I am going to have my hands, legs, my neck, and body tied to this chair. I want two members of the audience to come up and tie me securely. They may tie the ropes as tight as they wish, just so they do do not cause me any discomfort or pain as I must be free to concentrate on my work."

Have two gentlemen come up from audience. Lift up curtain on cabinet and turn it around to show that there is no one hiding. Then give each spectator a piece of rope about three feet long. Have each one tie an end of his rope around your left and right wrists, respectively. Allow ropes to hang down from your wrists.

Figure 30.

"As most of you know, the straight-jacket tie is one of the most secure ties known. It is what hospitals and asylums use to control raving maniacs or dangerous people. The arms are crossed and tied from behind, tight against the body. I want you gentlemen to tie my arms tight against my body in that manner."

Cross your arms in front of you and have spectators tie ropes behind your back.

Figure 31.

You may urge spectators to draw rope tight as you can keep wrists from going too far back. Thus ropes seem to be tight and yet you have enough play in your arms. Experience will teach you just how far arms should be crossed and how tight ropes can be.

Figure 32.

Sit down in chair and have ropes tied to upper part of chair back. Have ankles tied to legs of chair and then ropes brought up to bind knees to chair. A rope is also tied around waist and attached to chair back, and one around neck is also attached to chair.

Have spectators lift you up with chair and place you inside of cabinet with chair close to back of cabinet. Then have spectators step aside while assistant takes charge.

Figure 34.

"Let me call your attention again to the secure manner in which two members of the audience have bound me—my hands, my legs, my waist, and head. I can sympathize with people bound in straight jackets. I will have my assistant take charge of things now to help me from the outside. Gentlemen, I shall ask you to examine the ties from time to time to see that I am always bound securely just as you have bound me. I will have the curtain drawn in front of me long enough for a manifestation, then it will be drawn aside."

Assistant places cane across your lap.

"Have you ever heard of the spirit of Katie King? Watch."

Assistant closes curtain quickly and steps aside. The moment curtain is closed, bring your right hand down and grasp cane. You will find that you can do this readily. Your hands seem to be tied tight, but in reality you can move them up and down. By twisting right shoulder to the right, you can easily pick up objects from lap.

Figure 35.

Hold cane by lower end so that you can bring crook up over top edge of curtain. Move it from side to side and finally toss it over curtain.

How Draw Someone Tied Chair

Figure 36 shows a view from the rear as you bring crook of cane up over curtain.

Audience knows you are tied and could not possibly lift the cane. They are baffled when they see cane apparently floating in air and believe some mysterious force is at work.

Figure 37 shows view from audience.

Quickly bring hands back to position. The moment cane is tossed out, assistant should draw curtains aside. Practice the timing of this well as there should be no hesitation. The more quickly this is done, the more mystified the audience will be. Some people swear they saw you tied while cane was flying through the air.

Assistant now places tambourine on your lap and on this, the bell -- then draws curtain again.

Reach down with left hand and grasp bell, lifting it from tambourine. Bring left hand with bell back into crossed position again. Then pick up tambourine with right hand. Jingle tambourine and ring bell at same time. Throw tambourine over curtain and follow it with the bell. Replace arms into position quickly again as assistant immediately opens curtain.

Spectators assisting are now asked to come into cabinet and examine the ropes. This done, they step out again and to one side.

Assistant places a glass half-filled with water on your lap. Curtain is closed. Reach down and pick up glass. Drink water. Tilt your head back and hold glass between your teeth.

Figure 38 shows a side view.

Curtain is pushed aside to show that water is gone from glass and glass is in your mouth.

Next, assistant takes a slate and shows it to be blank on both sides. He places it with a piece of chalk on your lap, and then closes curtain. Anyone in audience is asked to call out a question which he would like answered. Assistant repeats the question and you write some suitable answer on the slate. Curtain is opened and message shown on slate. To audience, you are still securely bound. You can close seance here or finish with a production.

You can easily arrange a production of silks from a bunch to a bouquet of real or artificial flowers, or whatever your assistant could easily carry under his coat. Let us say he has bundle in a special pocket or apparatus under the right side of his coat. As he closes curtain after slate message has appeared, his back is to audience. He gets curtain close to him with right hand, quickly brings bundle out from under coat with left hand and tosses it into performer's lap. This takes only an instant and assistant continues closing curtain without hesitation.

You arrange object in presentable shape. Assistant then opens curtain again and shows production. This adds a good bit of showmanship to the seance.

Have gentlemen examine the ropes and then untie you.

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