The Hags kick things off at the Earth and Sky Celebration at Lawless Park this Saturday at 3:30. Lots of great family activities. Wear your hiking boots and bring your appetite!
We were delighted and gratified to have our Fan Club (Clare, Helga, Nancy and Sandy), all hags themselves, follow us to South Bend on Friday night! We had a great time performing at Acting Ensemble’s Vaudeville Show. The Hags were the only band/musical number; other acts included Pickapart Theatre (improv), Kid Pop (an 8 year old who does Michael Jackson dances and lip synchs), Matt and Tommy (a 12 year old ventriloquist), an Irish dancer (amazing!) and a stand-up comedian. Lots of great laughs!
While researching Gelsomina I learned that her character was partly inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp. The Tramp debuted in 1914; a fascinating bumbler, a childlike vagrant who wanted very much to be taken for a gentleman. Gelsomina is doomed, but the Tramp turns the tables and makes fools out of the non-fools.
Chaplin at Keystone: The Tramp is Born
By Jeffrey Vance, adapted from his book Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema (New York, 2003) © 2009 Roy Export SAS
Building on traditions forged in the commedia dell’arte which he learned in the British music halls, Charles Chaplin brought traditional theatrical forms into an emerging medium and changed both cinema and culture in the process. The birth of modern screen comedy occurred when Chaplin donned his derby hat, affixed his toothbrush moustache, and stepped into his impossibly large shoes for the first time at the Keystone Film Company. The comedies Chaplin made for Keystone chart his rapid evolution from music hall sketch comedy artiste to master film comedian and director.
It would be easy to mistake the story of how Chaplin stumbled into his first motion-picture contract as the plot of a Chaplin comedy, were it not true. Alfred Reeves, manager of the Fred Karno theatrical company touring in America, received a telegram at the Nixon Theatre in Philadelphia on May 12, 1913, which read, “IS THERE A MAN NAMED CHAFFIN IN YOUR COMPANY OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT STOP IF SO WILL HE COMMUNICATE WITH KESSEL AND BAUMANN 24 LONGACRE BUILDING BROADWAY.” (1)
Reeves, believing the telegram must be referring to Chaplin, showed it to him. When Chaplin discovered that the tenants of the Longacre Building were mostly attorneys, he imagined that his great-aunt, Elizabeth Wiggins, had died and left him an inheritance. He immediately arranged a day trip to New York City.
Chaplin was disappointed to discover that the telegram had been sent by Adam Kessel Jr. and Charles O. Baumann, owners of the New York Motion Picture Company, who wanted to sign him as a comedian with the Keystone Film.
The rest, as we know …
I’m fond of fools so I’ve decided to blog about my top ten fools. One a day. Simpletons whose pursuit of unreachable goals provokes heart-wrenching sorrow. Like Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina) in Fellini’s 1954 film, La Strada. Gelsomina is a half-wit, sold by her mother to Zampano, a strolling player, a gypsy.
Mother: Take care of her…
Zampano: Sure — I even teach dogs.
Gelsomina is carted off by Zampano (Anthony Quinn) in his motorcycled-pulled caravan. When he performs before small crowds of villagers, he breaks the chains wrapped around his chest by expanding his lungs. Gelsomina assists him by beating on a drum, her round eyes and adoring face more compelling than his brute strength. As the film progresses the viewer becomes increasingly certain that Gelsomina is too simple, too lacking in anything but love, to survive.
We’ll soon find out. The Hags are performing on Saturday Dec. 5 only. Bohemian Grandma and Pickapart Theatre will be serving up some improv both nights. According to the poster there’s dancing!