7:30 – 9:15pm Saturday 27th October, The Harrogate Club
Dominating a quiet tree lined avenue in the centre of Harrogate is The Harrogate Club. Since 1886 the stunning building has been a popular meeting place for social gatherings and business meetings. A friendly and welcoming atmosphere with an interior befitting of a location from a Sherlock Holmes mystery.
It was here in the early 1920s that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was reputed to have attended a séance or two. It is well documented that one of the main people who followed the Spiritualist movement was Doyle. In 1893, he joined the British Society for Physical Research, a society formed in Cambridge one year earlier in order to investigate scientifically the claims of Spiritualism and other paranormal phenomena.
After a number of tests were carried out by the society, Doyle was convinced that telepathy or ‘thought transference’ existed. Paul Forster will demonstrate this technique during his evening of spirit theatre on Saturday 27th October.
Doyle’s son Kingsley died in October 1918 just weeks before the Armistice ended the war. Arthur held numerous séances with his second wife Jean to communicate with his son and other spirits. After his success with the Sherlock Holmes stories, Doyle decided to abandon writing fiction and devoted himself almost entirely to the study of paranormal. He was convinced that we could communicate with the dead.
During the Victorian age, the séance was one of the most sought-after forms of entertainment with many prominent figures in society seeking to reach out to their departed loved ones.
With this incredible history in mind Paul Forster, mystery entertainer, mind reader and actor decided to recreate a Victorian séance and was lucky to obtain permission to perform it at the Harrogate Club. Paul said “The Club is a warm and welcoming place steeped in history. I wanted to host my spirit theatre here due to its connection with Doyle.”
Spiritualism had been around a long time before it gained popularity in the 1920s. There was the famous fake medium Madame Helen Blavatsky from the 19th Century and predating her was Hans Mesmer who gave us the word ‘mesmerize’.
“In a simplistic sense, Spiritualism is the belief that spirits of the dead have both the ability and inclination to communicate with the living. The afterlife is not a static place but an environment where spirits continue to evolve” believes Paul. “When you mention the word ‘séance’ it summons visions of psychics delivering messages from deceased loved ones. This is not what my evening is about.’”
Paul’s evening of spirit theatre is a show of two halves. During the first part of the evening he introduces the theme of spiritualism through a mixture of magic and mind reading, in order to demonstrate how the clairvoyants of the past convinced so many people that they had unusual powers. He will make impossible predictions and reveal thoughts just as the spiritualists did in the 1900’s.
In the second half, Paul concentrates on a particular moment from our past. “I didn’t want my show to upset anyone, traditionally in a séance the sitters (audience) would try to communicate with their loved ones who have since passed. I don’t agree with this but still wanted to demonstrate this element of a séance.” Said Paul. He uses a well-known and tragic event from history in order to commune with the spirits of the past. Paul has collected a plethora of dusty old books, mysterious boxes and objects with strange energies which he uses in his show. He calls them ‘Hauntiques’.
Hauntiques are a little known secret in the museum industry, put simply it is a haunted antique. Paul believes that we are all made of energy and when someone dies, part of that energy can be imprinted on objects or places, which is why we get haunted houses. Very few people know that you can also have haunted objects.
These items have a certain energy attached to them and it is through these objects that Paul attempts to communicate with those spirits attached to them. He said “People become attached to their favourite chair, book or trinket and when they pass over to the other side part of their energy can remain with that object. There is nothing more thrilling for an audience member to join me on stage and hold in their hand a real piece of history… some of which are haunted!”
Paul’s theatrical séance is for entertainment purposes only. A blend a theatre, storytelling and magic provides a thrilling evening of theatre.
A Victorian séance will take place on Saturday 27th October 2018 at The Harrogate Club, 36 Victoria Ave, Harrogate HG1 5PR.
Tickets are on sale at www.paulforster.co.uk at £15 per person.
7:30pm until late. Not suitable for under 14’s.