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November 9

Pantomime Realities: The Magic Lantern, the Metropolis, and the “Celebrated” Ballads of George R. Sims

David Francis and Joss Marsh in Person
Live Piano Accompaniment by Martin Marks
Special Event Tickets $12

Sunday November 9 at 7pm


Funding provided by the Provostial Funds Committee.

The magic lantern was a slide projector that was one of the earliest and most popular precursors to the motion picture. Using a nineteenth century three-lens brass and mahoghany magic lantern, which allows them to dissolve from one image to the next and thus create the illusion of movement, and rare original glass transparent slides from the same era, David Francis and Joss Marsh, with Marty Marks at the piano, will present six ballads by George R. Sims: The Magic Wand, The Level Crossing, Land of Gold, In the Harbour, The Muslin Frock, and Mrs. Three Doors Up.

More even than Charles Dickens, now-forgotten George R. Sims (1847-1922) was the multimedia star of Victorian London: the hit playwright whose Lights o' London ran for forty years; the writer of much-applauded fanciful and topical pantomimes; the crusading journalist whose reports on "Horrible London" changed the lives of children and helped lay the foundations of the Welfare State; the columnist whose weekly chats in The Referee hooked a generation of "Refereaders;" the bon vivant whose affairs and spectacular gambling were the talk of the town.

But Sims was also the author of a remarkable series of heart-rending and hard-hitting ballads. Illuminated by the best artists of the magic lantern world, they are extraordinary precursors of cinematic art.

The program will conclude with a recitation, with music, of Sims' most famous ballad, In the Workhouse, Christmas Day, and a screening of the 1914 G.B. Samuelson film, Christmas Day in the Workhouse.

audio from evening Listen to this evening's introduction, presentation and Q&A.

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