Houdini: A Musical

Houdini: A Musical

Paris Press

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Houdini is an exploration of freedom and imprisonment. This cross genre musical unlocks time and reality—on the page, in a box, under water, onstage

This previously unpublished work offers readers the musical that was performed once in 1973 in Lenox, MA, with Christopher Walken playing Houdini in one of his earliest roles onstage. Houdini presents the spectacular life of world-renowned escape artist, Harry Houdini. Part biography, part fantasy, Houdini unlocks Rukeyser's worlds of illusion and reality as she leads us from Houdini's childhood in Appleton, Wisconsin (picking up pins with his eyelids) to his acts under water and onstage. We meet his wife Bess, his mother, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the poet's own Marco Bone, vehicle of voices, spirits, and songs. Rukeyser presents Houdini's shocking congressional testimony against spiritual mediums. She shows his great feats of escape, his complex relationships with his mother and his wife, and his ironic, untimely death.In addition to revealing the story of this country's tantalizing icon, Houdini offers a new understanding of Rukeyser's own work and life. Written at the height of the women's movement, the musical gives us Rukeyser's most famous lines, spoken by Houdini's wife Bess: "What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open." Houdini's response, "It has. Now I am going after all the pieces." With subtexts of desire, race, grief, and love, Houdini presents Rukeyser's gorgeous, reaching language and her brilliant observations of the human psyche. The musical will appeal to young readers as well as Houdini devotees, poetry fans, theater people, and escape artists everywhere.

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Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980) is one of our country's most influential yet neglected writers. She published fifteen collections of poetry, plays, translations, children's books, and several works of nonfiction. Her "toys of fame" include the Yale Younger Poets Award, the Copernicus Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Shelley Memorial Award. From 1975-1976, she served as president of P.E.N. American Center.

Pub Date: 2002
Format: Paperback
Pages: 160
Size: 6.00 x 9.25 inches


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