Friday, February 25, 2011

Thursdays Thesaurus: Peppers Ghost

As promised, this Thursdays Thesaurus will explain Peppers Ghost!

Peppers Ghost Optical illusion effect used to make a ghost appear on stage next to an actor. Using a sheet of glass and special lighting techniques, it can make objects seem to appear or disappear, or make one object seem to morph into another. It is named after John Henry Pepper, who first demonstrated the technique in the 1860s.

In order for the illusion to work, the viewer must be able to see into the main room, but not into the hidden mirror room. The edge of the glass may be hidden by a cleverly designed pattern in the floor.

The illusion was first shown at the Royal Polytechnic Institution in London by it’s creator, J.H.Pepper on Christmas Eve, 1862. Following many subsequent events, Charles Dickens used it during readings of The Haunted Man. Several plays were written specially to use the effect around 1863, but the long-term future of the effect was limited by the fact that the ghost couldn't speak.

Even though this illusion may seem like it is restricted in its use in this modern age, then you may be surprised to know that you have probably seen it quite a bit but didn’t know what it was!

Peppers Ghost is used quite a bit at amusement parks in their rides. At Knotts Berry Farm they have a live actor and film projection along with the ghost effect in the Mystery Lodge exhibit but most famously you may know it from the Haunted Mansion and Twilight Tower of Terror at Disneyland Parks (yes, I think that the Haunted Mansion effects count as theater, don’t you?)

Now I want to go to Disneyland, any takers?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tell me on a Sunday: Characters

It is time once again for Tell Me on a Sunday! I know that I missed last week’s post and I apologize, but I have a great excuse. Besides being outwitted by a balloon (click here) I was super sick. Like La Boheme, coughing sick. I could barely make it out of bed let alone to the computer to type something.

This is where Mr. Theatrophile points out that the computer is in fact portable, and could have come to me in the bed very easily. This is also where I respond with “hhmmm?”

Moving on…This week’s Tell Me on a Sunday is about characters that resonate with you. Is there a character that you love to watch over and over because you identify with them in some way?

Do you love to watch Wicked because you identify with Elpheba? Do you sometimes have a quick temper and act impulsively? Do you, like Belle in Beauty and the Beast, feel like there is more for you that what is in your provincial town? Do you try to find a way to stay detached from things that may end up causing you pain like Mark from Rent?

Do you love a character because you are inspired by their journey? Do you come away from A Dolls House by Ibsen with a renewed sense of not wanting to depend on anyone for anything and wanting to be independent? Do you chafe at traditionally drawn societal roles? Do you really want to dance the tarantella?

I like many aspects of many different characters and enjoy all the different paths that different shows can take you on. One I very much love is The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, not only because it is adorable and the songs are catchy, but because there is something in each character that I love. I also like that it’s a show written with kids as characters but treats them as the flawed human beings they are, instead of just the kid stereotypes. Out all the kids my favorite is Leaf Coneybear


Leaf is played by a wonderfully funny actor named Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who you may know

from the television show “Modern Family”. Leaf is not the brightest kid in the tournament, and in fact wouldn’t have made it into the spelling bee at all if the two kids who placed ahead of him hadn’t been invited to the same bar mitzvah. Yet there he is, boldly trying to spell words he may never had heard of before, all to prove he is smart like the rest of his family.

By his own admission Leaf has a gentle personality and he likes his hair, both things have nothing to do with smarts at all and everything to do with why I love him (I don’t know why, but the hair line makes me laugh EVERY SINGLE TIME).

While in the beginning he is a bit gun shy after being home schooled with his more aggressive family, he soon is happily amongst the other spellers.I love that even though he grows in confidence he never grows out of his goofy personality or quirks. I admire that. Sometimes I wonder if my job, responsibilities and behaving as I people think I ought is dampening my sense of whimsy and wonderment, but then I hear Leaf sing and it never fails to make me laugh. That’s when I realize that no matter how far down it may get sometimes; my personality (while not gentle like Leafs, is goofy none the less) is there.

Of course living with Mr. Theatrophile keeps me goofy too.

So how about you? What character(s) do you identify with? Tell me about it!