Illusionist to attempt burning at stake trick in King John’s Castle

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

DAREDEVIL local magician and stuntman Steve Spade is to be burnt at the stake in King John’s Castle as part of the upcoming Elemental Arts and Culture Festival.

DAREDEVIL local magician and stuntman Steve Spade is to be burnt at the stake in King John’s Castle as part of the upcoming Elemental Arts and Culture Festival.

Or rather the illusionist will ‘fight for his life’ to escape from the classic trick, which will be the culmination of a spectacular event entitled Night of Fires, running as part of the festival on September 15.

Spade, from Coonagh, has previously escaped from a padlocked box dropped in the Abbey River and emulated his hero Harry Houdini by escaping from a 100 foot rope trick, but this will be by far the most dangerous and death-defying stunt he will have attempted.

The setting of King John’s Castle could not be more ideal for the dramatic stunt, which is evocative of grisly torture practice from medieval times.

“This effect has been never done in a public format, people do it on stage, but not in a big open setting. It hasn’t happened in 600 years, so I think it is overdue,” said Steve of his ‘Sacrifice’ illusion.

“It is a traditional burning at the stake, it is an escape. I will be tied to a pole, it will be ignited, and I will have to escape. I can’t say how long it will take, but we are aiming for it to be under a minute,” he added.

The trick has been worked out with Morgan Strebler, a Las Vegas based magic advisor who has designed effects for illustrious performers such as David Blane.

“It has all the elements of a death defying stunt, but a lot of safety precautions have been put into it, and that is where Morgan comes into it,” explained Steve.

“I am really pleased to get approval on the location as it wouldn’t make sense anywhere else,” he added.

The Night of Fires event will feature “a number of fire-based performances throughout the evening” according to organising committee member Simon Thompson.

“There is a real medieval theme to this event. We are incredibly lucky to have pyrotechnic specialist and special effects expert Hannes Jung taking part, with his Dreaming Flames work,” he explained.

“This dramatic display involves a metal sculpture being set on fire, so that flames lick all around the piece. The glowing interactive fire sculpture looks stunning anyway. Set against the unique backdrop of King John’s Castle, it will be incredible,” he added.

The event in King John’s Castle will begin at 6pm on September 15. A variety of events will take place during the day. See http://elementallimerick.com.