Saturday, May 11, 2013

The True Origins of Cat Videos Revealed!

Thanks to a recent discussion of cinema and history by filmmaker Martin Scorsese, I learned that the gigantic presence of cat videos on the Internet has origins dating back to the days of Thomas Edison and vaudeville.

The feline fascinations still perplexes me however. Perhaps the recording and sharing of pet hijinks point to a simple truth: We humans spend many hours playing with our pets in pursuit of utter cuteness. 

Records indicate that in mid-July of 1894, filmmakers employed at Thomas Edison's Menlo Park, N.J. studio filmed a vaudeville act of Professor Welton's Boxing Cats. A 20-second silent movie clip shows Prof. Welton hoisting a pair of wee boxing glove wearing cats via harnesses and slamming them together to make it appear that the cats are boxing in a tiny boxing ring.

Animal acts were a staple of the vaudeville circuit, with dancing dogs and other often painfully exploited critters. Note for instance Edison's decision to film an elephant being electrocuted in an act of sheer cruelty.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Stuck in the Non-Digital World

It's true, dear reader, I have been for some weeks now breathing non-digital air, treading non-digital paths, and been absent from this humble and lovable blog.

Constant readers here know I have endless passion for the theatrical world, and since April that is the world and the work dominating my days and nights. Note I am not complaining.

In April work began on a live improv comedy show, a fundraising launch for the Morristown Theatre Guild as we strive to renovate and reopen their historic home. Crazed comedy made up live while the audience watches does take much preparation and I am pleased to say the cast put on a very funny show.

(pictures of this event and others are below)

Next up was the just-completed production of high school students for the Guild's annual Books Alive! program. I was only a producing partner for this show, directed by a local Hamblen County teacher. Still, it consumed my time.

The show, titled "Fairy Tales" presented the stories of Snow White, Red Riding Hood and more. The audiences were made of elementary students who arrived in large groups for shows thru the day. Not only was the cast excellent at their work the audiences of youngsters cheered and howled with great delight as they had their first experiences in theatre.

All thru the two shows above and continuing now are preparations and set building for the Guild's production of the amazing Neil Simon's play "California Suite". This production will play at Walters State Community College, opening May 16.

In all of these endeavors, there exist no online arguments of politics, of social constructs, or other digitalized concerns. Instead, these efforts are linked to the human history of storytelling, of shared experience, of basic communications achieved in person.

It is most refreshing. And it makes all involved, I hope, quite happy.

And now, some photos.

The troupe of Improv comedians.

The student cast of "Fairy Tales", and below, some of the elementary kids pretending to be trees helping to keep Snow White safe.