Categories
Coney Island USA Sideshow Vaudevisuals Interview Women

Vaudevisuals interview with Sarah the Bird Girl At Coney Island USA

Sarah The Bird Girl performing at Coney Island USA 

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With her uncanny resemblance to Minnie, Sarah presents a haunting and visceral account of the beauty of difference and a hidden story of endurance, from the voice of a natural born freak. Koo Koo and the other unlikely stars of Tod Browning’s revolutionary film, Freaks (1932), are also honored in this performance. Significant, because the film was banned for 30 years for being too controversial, yet it is so much part of our history. Minnie went on to work at Coney Island, ensuring she was free from the life of asylums. This is a very special Coney Island show that will give you both answers and leave you wanting more.

As an internationally acclaimed circus and physical theater performer, Sarah has performed for several companies around the world, including Cirque Du Soleil. Most recently she starred as lead female in feature film ‘Reflections in the Dust’ and toured with Extant Theatre UK. She has a TEDx talk and recently spoke at the United Nations. “Koo Koo the Bird Girl” won an Australian Green Room Award 2019 for Contemporary Performance.

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REVIEWS

“This is a terrific show – intelligent, emotional and witty, and a direct challenge to the audience’s expectations about performance, identity and what it means to look and be looked at.”  

“This is a performance that explores, beautifully, the capacities of the body and the self, rather than letting the differently abled body be shaped by restrictive legal, social and medical strictures that mark ‘deviance’ as a negative thing, instead of a marker of the breadth of human experience.”  – New Zealand Theater Review

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“Amazing, moving and revealing… This is an important performance… ”  – Express Magazine, Nov 2015

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“Houbolt’s performance evokes a frisson that every misjudged soul can recognise… Evocative… impressive… Houbolt has a gravitas earned through many years performing around the world… Her demonstration of side show is a rare treat.” – Nothing Ever Happens in Brisbane, Nov 2016

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“A show that smashes boundaries between herself and the audience… truly unique” – The Creative Issue Nov 2016

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Excerpt from Tod Browning’s “Freaks” featuring Koo Koo the Bird Girl.

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ONE NIGHT ONLY!

AUGUST 14th – 9pm

Sideshows by the Seashore

For more information/tickets go here!

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Categories
Book Shelf History Sideshow Vaudevisuals Bookshelf

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “Inseparable” by Yunte Huang

With wry humor, Shakespearean profundity, and trenchant insight, Yunte Huang brings to life the story of America’s most famous nineteenth-century Siamese twins.

Nearly a decade after his triumphant Charlie Chan biography, Yunte Huang returns with this long-awaited portrait of Chang and Eng Bunker (1811–1874), twins conjoined at the sternum by a band of cartilage and a fused liver, who were “discovered” in Siam by a British merchant in 1824. Bringing an Asian American perspective to this almost implausible story, Huang depicts the twins, arriving in Boston in 1829, first as museum exhibits but later as financially savvy showmen who gained their freedom and traveled the backroads of rural America to bring “entertainment” to the Jacksonian mobs. Their rise from subhuman, freak-show celebrities to rich southern gentry; their marriage to two white sisters, resulting in twenty-one children; and their owning of slaves, is here not just another sensational biography but a Hawthorne-like excavation of America’s historical penchant for finding feast in the abnormal, for tyrannizing the “other”―a tradition that, as Huang reveals, becomes inseparable from American history itself. 28 illustrations.

 

“Excellent… Mr. Huang compellingly makes his case that racism was a factor in these two self-made gentlemen landowners still being considered, late in life, as nothing more than a Barnumesque “freak show”… It’s not difficult to find in this, as Mr. Huang most definitely does, a comment on the times in which we live.”
– Melanie Benjamin, Wall Street Journal

“Engrossing…. give[s] an unvarnished look at the degradation and disparagement the brothers had to endure.”
– Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

Inseparable, Yunte Huang’s exuberant and vivid account of the ‘original Siamese twins,’ examines 19th-century American attitudes toward race and sex that resonate today ― a time when immigrants, people of color, those with disabilities and others are denied their stories and denied their humanity… By sharing his own experiences, [Yuang] reveals the poignant commonalities of immigrants across time and place, strangers making sense of a strange land, determined to make a better life for themselves and their children.”
– Vanessa Hua, San Francisco Chronicle

You can purchase the book here!

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Categories
Book Shelf Magic Vaudevisuals Bookshelf Ventriliquist

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “Richard Potter”

Richard Potter: America’s First Black Celebrity

Apart from a handful of exotic–and almost completely unreliable–tales surrounding his life, Richard Potter is almost unknown today. Two hundred years ago, however, he was the most popular entertainer in America–the first showman, in fact, to win truly nationwide fame. Working as a magician and ventriloquist, he personified for an entire generation what a popular performer was and made an invaluable contribution to establishing popular entertainment as a major part of American life. His story is all the more remarkable in that Richard Potter was also a black man.

This was an era when few African Americans became highly successful, much less famous. As the son of a slave, Potter was fortunate to have opportunities at all. At home in Boston, he was widely recognized as black, but elsewhere in America audiences entertained themselves with romantic speculations about his “Hindu” ancestry (a perception encouraged by his act and costumes).

Richard Potter’s (1783 – 1835) performances were enjoyed by an enormous public, but his life off stage has always remained hidden and unknown. Now, for the first time, John A. Hodgson tells the remarkable, compelling–and ultimately heartbreaking–story of Potter’s life, a tale of professional success and celebrity counterbalanced by a racial vulnerability in an increasingly hostile world. It is a story of race relations, too, and of remarkable, highly influential black gentlemanliness and respectability: as the unsung precursor of Frederick Douglass, Richard Potter demonstrated to an entire generation of Americans that a black man, no less than a white man, could exemplify the best qualities of humanity. The apparently trivial “popular entertainment” status of his work has long blinded historians to his significance and even to his presence. Now, at last, we can recognize him as a seminal figure in American history.

Inscription: In memory of RICHARD POTTER The Celebrated VENTRILOQUIST who died Sept. 20th, 1835, Aged 52 years.

The book can be purchased here.

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More information on Richard Potter here.

Conjure Times

Scottish Rite Newsletter

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Categories
Comedy Film History Performing Arts Television Variety Arts Women

1940 Ads in Playbill

What was it like to live in 1940?

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And Ed Wynn  ‘The Perfect Fool’ was on Broadway with his show “Boys and Girls Together”

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Categories
Clown Comedy Commedia dell' Arte Performing Arts Physical Theater

The Performers Slapstick is Back!

New York City based mask maker and commedia dell’arte specialist, Stanley Allen Sherman, discusses the history of the slapstick as a stage implement turned musical instrument, his creative process, and the importance of developing a performer’s slapstick.

Contact Stanley
or visit online at maskarts.com

Video by Jeremy Charles Hohn

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Categories
Book Shelf Cinema Magic Silent Film

The Vaudevisuals Book Shelf – “Hidden in Plain Sight” by Colin Williamson

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 2.56.29 AM

Williamson offers an insightful, wide-ranging investigation of how the cinema has functioned as a “device of wonder” for more than a century while also exploring how several key filmmakers, from Orson Welles to Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorsese, employ the rhetoric of magic. Examining pre-cinematic visual culture, animation, nonfiction film, and the digital trickery of today’s CGI spectacles, Hidden in Plain Sight provides an eye-opening look at the powerful ways that magic has shaped our modes of perception and our experiences of the cinema.

“Fresh and intriguing, Hidden in Plain Sight offers a wealth of fascinating historical information on the myriad ways and contexts in which moving images have evoked experiences of wonder from audiences. Williamson’s interest in the material is infectious.”

—Stephen Prince, author of Digital Visual Effects in Cinema: The Seduction of Reality

“In answering questions that date back, at least, a century in movie-making, Williamson looks at how movie magic has inspired people to learn more about the techniques and technology behind the images. “
—Flicksided
Purchase the book here.