Categories
Book Shelf Vaudevisuals Bookshelf Writer

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf ~ Giants of the Monsoon Forest: Living and Working with Elephants

A journey through the hidden world of elephants and their riders.

High in the mountainous rainforests of Burma and India grow some of the world’s last stands of mature, wild teak. For more than a thousand years, people here have worked with elephants to log these otherwise impassable forests and move people and goods (often illicitly) under cover of the forest canopy. In Giants of the Monsoon Forest, geographer Jacob Shell takes us deep into this strange elephant country to explore the lives of these extraordinarily intelligent creatures.

The relationship between elephant and rider is an intimate one that lasts for many decades. When an elephant is young, he or she is paired with a rider, who is called a mahout. The two might work together their entire lives. Though not bred to work with humans, these elephants can lift and carry logs, save people from mudslides, break logjams in raging rivers, and navigate dense mountain forests with passengers on their backs.

Visiting tiny logging villages and forest camps, Shell describes fascinating characters, both elephant and human―like a heroic elephant named Maggie who saves dozens of British and Burmese refugees during World War II, and an elephant named Pak Chan who sneaks away from the Ho Chi Minh Trail to mate with a partner in a passing herd. We encounter an eloquent colonel in a rebel army in Burma’s Kachin State, whose expertise is smuggling arms and valuable jade via elephant convoy, and several particularly smart elephants, including one who discovers, all on his own, how to use a wood branch as a kind of safety lock when lifting heavy teak logs.

Giants of the Monsoon Forest offers a new perspective on animal intelligence and reveals an unexpected relationship between evolution in the natural world and political struggles in the human one. Shell examines why the complex tradition of working with elephants has endured with Asian elephants, but not with their counterparts in Africa. And he shows us how Asia’s secret forest culture might offer a way to save the elephants. By performing rescues after major floods―as they did in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami―and helping sustainably log Asian forests, humans, and elephants working together can help protect the fragile spaces they both need to survive.32 pages of photographs; 4 maps

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Categories
Comedy Dixon Place Vaudevisuals Interview Women Writer

Vaudevisuals interview with Deborah Margolin – Dixon Place Benefit Performance!

SATURDAY, AUGUST 29TH, 2020 AT 7:30 PM

What do you get when you cross a nerd comedian with a nerd-averse Mother who is funny as f*ck? You get Deb Margolin’s JUST GIVE ME ONE-HALF HOUR WITH MY MOTHER, a comedy of mourning and retrospection, with a deep bow to the power of jokes to connect a body in the diaspora to the mother country, or to the Mother herself! In addition to the lamentation and yearning, there are jokes told one after the other! These are ACTUAL JOKES! No one tells straight-up jokes anymore

~For Tickets~

Written & Performed by Deb Margolin

Directed by Merri Milwe

Technical Director and Technical Designer: Chayton PabichBackstage

Crew and Advisors: Ginny Mayer & Mark Gaudet

Deb Margolin is a playwright, actor, and founding member of Split Britches Theater Company. She is the author of numerous plays, including Imagining Madoff, Turquoise, and Bringing the Fishermen Home, as well as 10 solo performance, plays which she has toured throughout the US, the most recent of which is 8 STOPS, a comedy concerning the grief of endless compassion! 8 STOPS takes a long, humorous, tender look at motherhood, the suburbs, the fear of death, and the inheritability of ideas.  Deb was honored with an OBIE award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, the Kesselring Playwright Prize for her play Three Seconds in the Key, the 2008 Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwright Award and the Richard H. Broadhead Prize for teaching excellence at Yale University, where she is Associate Professor (adj.) in the undergraduate Theater Studies Program. Commissions include the NY Public Theater, Actors Theater of Louisville, PS122, The Jewish Museum of New York, and Dixon Place.

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Categories
Cinema Clown Comedy Film History Interview Video

TV Interview with Peter Sellars – 1980

One of the funniest, if not the funniest comedic actor of all time being interviewed on network TV by Gene Shalit in 1980. So much fun watching him change accents and talk about his career.

He is best remembered for his role of inept French police Inspector ‘Jacques Clouseau’ in the “Pink Panther” series of films (1964 to 1982). The last of that series, “Trail of the Pink Panther” (1982) was made after his death, using film clips and unseen footage from his earlier “Pink Panther” movies. Born Richard Henry Sellers in Southsea, Hampshire, England, his parents worked in an acting company run by his grandmother. During World War II, he enlisted in the British Army, where he met future actors Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, and Michael Bentine. Following the war, he set up a review in London, which was a combination of music and impressions (he played the drums), which led to his doing impressions on BBC television’s “The Goon Show.” Moving rapidly into a series of British comedy films during the mid-1950s, he quickly caught widespread audience appeal, and each successful role led to more and better films. Following British comic tradition of doing multiple roles in the same play, he was adept at performing multiple roles in his movies, including his hilarious “The Mouse that Roared” (1959) (playing three different parts), the black comedy, “Dr. Strangelove” (1964), (playing an pragmatic RAF officer, a wimpy United States President and a weird German scientist), and “The Prisoner of Zenda” (1979) (playing the roles of Rudolf IV, Rudolf V, and Syd Frewin). In 1959, he won the British equivalent of an Oscar for his role of ‘Fred Kite’, a labor leader in “I’m All Right, Now,” (1959), and in 1979 he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role of ‘Chance Gardiner’ in his film, “Being There” (1979). He was married four times, to Ann Howe (1951 to 1961), to actress Britt Ekland (1964 to 1968), to Miranda Quarry (1970 to 1974), and to actress Lynn Frederick (1977 to his death in 1980).

Britt Ekland and Peter Sellers. Married 1964 to 1968.

July 24, 1980: Pink Panther actor and former Goon Show star Peter Sellers.

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Categories
Coney Island USA Performing Arts Puppetry Story Teller Vaudevisuals Interview Video Women

Vaudevisuals interview with Gretchen Van Lente

An assortment of puppeteers perform various scenes from the 358-year-old traditional English puppet show, Punch & Judy (n.b. for adults only)

“Kamikaze” is a term Drama of Works uses for its themed puppet slams, based around one story/event/play. A multitude of puppet artists are given sections of the story to reinterpret and create with wild abandon. Then it is presented in order. No one knows how it will come together until the night of the show. 

Puppets Come Home! is a series designed to celebrate Coney Island’s 150-year legacy of puppetry & provide a platform for contemporary cutting-edge puppeteers. Produced in collaboration with Coney Island USA.

Go here for the show on August 13th @8 pm!


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Categories
Clown Comedy Mask Performing Arts Photography Puppetry Story Teller Vaudevisuals Interview Writer

Vaudevisuals interview – Keith Shubert – Toybox Theatre

Keith Shubert is working on his puppets, toys, and other wonderful notions in North Carolina. He is an MC, producer, puppeteer, clown, and witch!

When I was in Asheville last year we attempted to meet for a person-to-person interview but I got sick. We postponed it and last week I got a chance to do the interview via Zoom.

For more information about Keith’s work you can visit his website his Facebook page.

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Categories
Dixon Place Performing Arts Sideshow Silent Film Vaudevisuals Interview Video Writer

Vaudevisuals interview with author/director/producer Trav S.D.

We are all in ‘shut-in’ lifestyles these days and so my interviews are taking the form of ‘internet’ screen videos from remote locations. Here is my first one with author Trav SD.


Upcoming Events Mentioned in the interview!

Smith Opera House screening, May 14, 7 pm

Lower East Side Festival of the Arts, May 22-24 (exact time TBA)

Niles Film Museum Charlie Chaplin Days, June 26-28

Dixon Place Hot! Festival, July 24, 7:30 pm: a lecture on drag, (details TBA)

And of course Trav SD’s blog


For those readers who haven’t read Trav SD’s books here they are!

No Applause–Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous

CHAIN OF FOOLS: SILENT COMEDY AND ITS LEGACIES, FROM NICKELODEONS TO YOUTUBE

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Categories
The Slipper Room

The Slipper Room – needs your help!

The Slipper Room is a New York institution. A House of Variety!

The Slipper Room is facing serious financial difficulties.

I did a wonderful interview with producer James Habacker in 2016. I am posting it here for your viewing. In the meantime, I have put a link below the video to the GoFundMe campaign that is currently set up to help them make it back in one piece! Please Help!

HELP THE SLIPPER ROOM!

The Slipper Room – No Place Like it!

In the meantime, you can watch some of the ‘exile’ shows here!

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Categories
Clown Comedy Magic Mime Performing Arts Quick Change Artists Variety Arts Vaudevisuals Interview

Vaudevisuals interview with Luca Lombardo – Quick Change!

I met Luca online as he was perusing the internet for historical information on the art of Quick Change. I had begun writing a book in 1989 title “Quick Change in American Vaudeville” which I researched for over 3 years and had accumulated many volumes of xerox copies (Pre-Internet days).

Having posted a few items on this blog Luca was interested in finding out more about the American history of Quick Change. He is from Naples and only knew the artist from his country and Europe. I emailed him and we set up a time/date for an interview. I thought using Zoom would be great. He agreed but then we realized his English wasn’t up to par (and my Italian was terrible!) to do a thorough interview. I then emailed him the questions I wanted to ask him and he answered them in text. Here is the interview and a video clip of our attempt at a Zoom interview. Along with some videos of his performances.

Interview with Luca Lombardo

Q: You are a magician, quick-change artist, magician, and clown. Can you give us a little history about these skills and where you acquired them? What schools you attended or what teachers you studied with?  

Luca: When I discovered the art of magic I was 15 years old and it really moved me. I studied every kind of magic for many years attending workshops and conferences of worldwide fame magicians. I decided it was my path when I watched Arturo Brachetti’s theatrical show. So I studied clownery both in Italy and abroad while I was practicing my magic tricks. I came up with the idea of a quick-change act with magic tricks. At first, I started only as a magician I then evolved in time as a clown developing a much deeper understanding of the audience. 

Q: Can you tell us about your thoughts regarding the mixing of all these wonderful disciplines?

 Luca: You can use as many tools and disciplines as you acknowledge to tell a story. The message is important. I love being and playing the clown because it is the closest to the truth, you can’t lie to your audience. However, my character is not a pure clown and I like to use my character to create my story.

Q: In a few articles I have read they refer to you as “The Crazy Performer”. Can you tell me why you got that title from the press? 

Luca: I got this nickname because I always tried to overthrow all theatrical rules still existing in the conservative Italian theatre scene. 

Q: I read a quote that mentioned ‘Fregolian Transformation”. Can you tell us what that is?

Luca: The Fregolian Transformation is a transformation not only in the clothes but also in the character, the moves, the attitude. In my act, there is a story and I have to change character not only a costume. In the Russian quick-change instead, the artist changes the only costume and the effort is more in the choreography of it, the story is less important.

Q: While you were in Rome a few years ago you met with Augusto Fornari who helped you write your current show: “Poubelle – Magic Beyond Imagination”. He also directed you in this new show. Can you tell us about the work you did with him? 

Luca: Augusto Fornari is also a film director and he is a very much acclaimed artist in Italy. I owe him everything as he believed in my talent and my creativity since the beginning. We are friends and I am very happy to be his friend.

Q: One of the things I heard about your show was the importance of empathy. Can you tell us how important this emotion is for you in your work? 

Luca: Empathy is what makes an artist happy. I think an artist needs emotions and if you are able to pass these emotions on to your audience, those will come back to you and it probably means you did a good job! I like to gift my audience an emotional and maybe surreal performance. I feel more grateful when someone says you really moved me instead of appreciating how quickly I was with the changes.

Q: Why do you think “Poubelle” has been so successful?

Luca: The nice thing about ‘Poubelle’ is that despite the fact that the character never speaks, he still manages to reach everyone. Empathy with the public is certainly the key to the success of this character. It is not a traditional show but a story of my childhood, the story of my life. With my dress changes – from Peter Pan to Mary Poppins to Super Mario Bros – I am able to tell my world. And this world then becomes that of the spectator who identifies with Poubelle. The great success of this character makes it clear that we all need magic and to play again.

Q: What does magic represent for you?

Luca: Magic is the ability to bring others into your dream, into your world. Changing the world is becoming increasingly difficult, but each of us can create one of our own in which to transport people. The magician does this by profession

Q: What are you working on now? Any new shows? 
Luca: It is very hard to think about future projects right now with the ongoing virus outbreak. I am supposed to be on stage in France at the ‘Avignon Off Festival’ next July. If everything goes further I will preview a new interactive quick-change act where a member of the audience chooses the character I change into.


Poubelle is a multitalented show ( Without words) : magic, poetry, comedy, and solo quick change. In this video the quick change it’s in real-time NO EDITING


Photographs of Characters from Luca Lombardo’s show


For more information on Luca Lombardo check out his InstagramWebsiteYouTube Channel

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Categories
Clown Performing Arts Physical Theater Vaudevisuals Interview Video

“The Artist Will Be With You In A Moment” – An Interview with Joel Jeske

Since many shows have been CANCELLED in the past weeks I have decided to rerun some of the interviews I did that are with the performers/directors involved in these shows. Today is the funny man Joel Jeske who created with Parallel Exit director Mark LonerganThe Artist Will Be With You In a Moment“. It was open for several performances BUT I didn’t get to see it! The reviews are ‘great’ so I am thinking it will be mounted again in the not-too-distant future! In the meantime here is Mr. Jeske talking about his show.

“The commanding performance artist Joel Jeske during his uproarious, clever and thoughtful self-created and self-written show, The Artist Will Be With You in a Moment. Relying on his dazzling clowning, his winning presence, and plentiful audience participation, it’s 70 delightful, breezy and theatrical minutes.” 

Keep your eyes open for more information at Parallel Exit‘s website!

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Categories
Circus Juggling Performing Arts Southern Sideshow Hootenanny Variety Arts Vaudeville Vaudevisuals Interview Writer

Vaudevisuals interview with Thom Wall – Publisher – Modern Vaudeville Press

During my 4 days documenting the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny in New Orleans in early March, I sat down with juggler Thom Wall (who performed at the Festival in the All-Star and Living Legends Show) and he talked about his niche publishing company Modern Vaudeville Press.

All the titles can be purchased at the website Modern Vaudeville Press

Juggling from Antiquity to the Middle Ages by Thom Wall

How to Become a Juggler by Rupert Ingalese

Body Talk – Basic Mime by Mano Diamond

More titles are in the works.

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