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Victorian Images, Antics Part of Magic-Lantern Show

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (March 4, 2010) -- The American Magic-Lantern Theater will present two shows Thursday, March 25, at 9:45 a.m. and 8 p.m. in Krinovitz Recital Hall, Hawkins Hall, on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus.

The troupe of costumed actors, narrators and singers will dramatize a selection of antique color slides depicting Victorian stories, comedy and songs. The slides will be projected via a 1890s "magic lantern" projector onto a full-size movie screen. Audience involvement will be encouraged, with members tooting on horns, providing sound effects and joining in sing-alongs.

Magic lantern shows were popular in the 19th century, and the first movies drew upon them for many of their story lines and for what we now think of as cinema techniques such as animation, dissolves, pan shots and close-ups.

In honor of Women's History Month, the show will feature the story of "Evangeline," by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which tells the fictional story of Evangeline's struggles during an actual historic event – the ethnic cleansing of the French-Canadian community, the Acadians, by the British in 1755.

Though fictional and American-written, the story became the sustaining myth of the Acadians, most of whom were dumped by the British on the American East Coast. They then migrated to Louisiana, becoming the Cajuns of today.

The magic lantern used in the show is a three-foot-high antique made of mahogany and brass and features two projectors. The slides for the lantern were all hand-painted in the 1890s on three-inch glass plates. Most are tinted, but many are cartoons.

The show is free and open to the public as part of Women's History Month at SUNY Plattsburgh. It is sponsored by the Multicultural Alliance with support from the Student Association, College Auxiliary Services and the Office of the President.

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