A Magic Lantern Show — Before Cinema at McGill’s Moyse Hall Theatre

I’d been waiting for ten years to see a real magic lantern performance. Last night, thanks to the organizers of Montreal’s Cinema in the Eye of the Collector conference, I got my wish. Here is Deborah Borton with the British, double-projecting magic lantern from the 1890s that they used to entertain us for 90-minutes:
Magic Lantern Show

The two lenses allow for transition effects from one image to the next. They used roughly 150 different slides during the performance, some of which incorporated masks and even tiny shadow puppets to produce animation effects. The show was accompanied by pianist Nancy Stewart, Terry Borton’s theatrical narration and featured lots of audience participation. I love that they all performed the show in period costumes and enchanted a roomful of smart-phone-saturated adults and children with turn-of-the-century technology. Book The American Magic-Lantern Theater troupe or find out where they’re performing next. These shows are hard to see, but worth every penny. After, I had a drink with fellow early cinema colleagues and friends Frank Kessler, Sabine Lenk and Frédéric Tabet. What good company to have been in for this memorable show:

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