This is what we did in 2011 (photographs by Gordon Rutter)…..
A WONDERFUL XMAS!
9th December, 7 p.m. & 9 p.m.: SOLD OUT
Our last event of the year got everyone in the Xmas mood by playing strange games and singing bizarre songs, experiencing a demonstration of mass hypnosis, and teaching party tricks that would make people the life and soul of any Xmas party. Oh, and we also flew in the world’s greatest sleight of hand magician to perform just for us!
Yes, we booked Spanish magician Dani Da’Ortiz, a brilliant, funny, charming man who produces miracles! This was not easy – he regularly appears at the famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, and he has never performed in the UK before. But we got him, we brought him over EXCLUSIVELY for the Edinburgh Secret Society FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY.
To celebrate Halloween we arranged a night of fright – a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a real ghost, witness previously unseen footage of genuine psychic ability, contact a spirit celebrity, sacrifice a virgin and summon the devil.
Not for the fainthearted, the weak-kneed, children or those easily offended.
EXPERIMENTAL SPEED DATING
From time to time The Secret Society runs smaller and more intimate events. The first of these took place in the spectacular Voodoo Rooms at the Cafe Royal, where just 48 single people (24 men and 24 women) joined Richard Wiseman in an unusual experiment exploring the mysteries of love.
At most speed-dating events people repeatedly chat about themselves, quickly become bored, and lose the will to live. But does it have to be like that? To find out, Richard staged a normal speed dating session, but asked pairs of people to play specially designed mind games instead of just chatting about themselves. Participants tried to read one another’s thoughts, draw portraits of one another and much much more. Part experiment, part speed-dating, this was an opportunity to meet like-minded souls, push back the frontiers of science, and have an enjoyable evening.
THE SECRET SHOW
This was a ONE NIGHT ONLY event, and was NOT part of the Fringe. It did NOT appear in the Fringe programme and was NOT advertised to the public. The Secret Show was a special magic show, starring some of the most secretive magicians we know:
It also featured mystical music from Helen Arney, plus the usual assortment of unusual revelations and amusing curiosities.
THE LAFAYETTE SEANCE
A century ago, The Great Lafayette was the highest paid performer in the world. But in the middle of his show, on the 9 May 1911, a fire began in the theatre. Trapped on the stage, Lafayette died, as the theatre burned to the ground. This was the Edinburgh Empire Palace Theatre, on the very same site now occupied by the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.
Exactly one hundred years on, The Edinburgh Secret Society took to the stage of the Festival Theatre, the site of Lafayette’s tragic death, in order to conduct ‘The Lafayette Seance’.
We retraced Lafayette’s final backstage steps as he attempted to escape the burning building, heard from world experts about his remarkable life and death, discovered why the lion roared, and who wore the teddy bear costume.
This event was held in collaboration with the Festival Theatre, and involved Gordon Rutter, Ian Robertson and Paula Wilson. To order ‘The Death and Life of The Great Lafayette’ by Ian Robertson and Gordon Rutter, click here
AN EVENING OF WONDERS
12th and 21st APRIL: SOLD OUT
Members were amazed and amused as we took over Edinburgh’s world famous Camera Obscura for two adult only evenings of wonder.
They screamed as they entered the vortex of death, giggled as they made their way through a maze of mirrors, gasped as they swapped faces with friends, and shrieked as they shrunk to half their height.
As if that wasn’t enough, each evening also involved a titillating exhibition of exceptionally rude optical oddities (usually kept under lock and key), talks on the mysteries of human perception, an experimental wine tasting, and an opportunity to witness a special nighttime presentation of the Camera Obscura itself.
7th March: SOLD OUT
The Edinburgh Secret Society changed gear and presented an unusual evening of experimental entertainment at the Filmhouse.
Have you heard of The Stone Tape? First broadcast by the BBC in 1972, this cult film has never been repeated on television or shown in cinemas. When it was originally broadcast, many viewers found it deeply disturbing, and critics described it as the creepiest drama ever made. But can this classic ghost story scare a twenty-first century audience?
This potentially spine-chilling evening aimed to answer this question by conducting an unique experiment that involved a rare screening of this ninety-minute classic, a psychological test of the imagination, and an assessment of people’s fear levels. Oh, and we also revealed some of the world’s creepiest ghost photographs.
AN EVENING OF DEATH
18th FEBRUARY: SOLD OUT
For this event we arranged special access to a stunning historic building that is rarely open to the public – Edinburgh University’s Anatomy Lecture Theatre. Built in the late 1880s, this amazing venue contains steeply raked seats rising above a central dissecting table, and has been home to many infamous cadavers.
This is where we celebrated an evening of death, including the strangest of manifestations from beyond the grave, the true story of the man who cheated death, and a Victorian machine first created to talk to the dead. There was also a live operation, and some surprisingly haunting melodies to enliven everybody.
At this event we were joined by the fabulous SpaceDog.
AN EVENING OF SELF-IMPROVEMENT
19th & 20th JANUARY: SOLD OUT
As part of its ongoing commitment to creating a better world, the Edinburgh Secret Society presented a unique evening exploring the psychology, history and science of self-improvement. We discovered how the original self-help book became more selfish, found out how the self-help industry peddles stuff and nonsense, and listened as one of the world’s top sleep experts explained how to improve one third of your life by getting a good night’s rest.
There was even a free gift for everyone, but we can’t go into details.
ILLUSION AND DISBELIEF
1 December 2010: SOLD OUT!
Our inaugural event took place on the 1st December 2010 in Edinburgh’s fabulous Voodoo Rooms. The evening consisted of three artistes each giving a twenty-minute presentation: a revealing talk on optical deceit; an illustrated lecture on a legendary hoax; and a thought-provoking display of telepathy.
Attendees experienced the world’s greatest illusions, saw a sausage levitate inches from their nose, discovered how to transform a tablecloth into a chicken, and had their minds read. Everyone left armed with stunts and demonstrations that would ensure they are the life and soul of any Christmas party. The evening included other things too, but we cannot go into that.
We were fortunate enough to be joined by that wonderful reader of minds, Colin McLeod.