Comment

MARS NEEDS VAMPIRES!

Dani Solomon, courtesy of Plate3 Photography. 

Dani Solomon, courtesy of Plate3 Photography. 

OUR FIRST FUNDRAISER

Click here to watch the video and peruse the list of thank-you gifts!

(And we're running it DIY so more cents on your dollar go toward art instead of a crowdfunding company.)

The Medium Theatre Company was born five years ago when someone asked us to make a play. The ingredients were an old mansion, a famous astro-photographer, and the ghost of a young woman trapped by history. In that play, The Sea of Tranquility, we helped that woman escape her eternal prison by sending her to dance on the surface of the Moon. Now we are sending another to Mars.

ONE WAY RED was Dani Solomon's brainchild for the 2015 SoLow Festival. Based on an actual project that's reviewing applicants for a one-way mission to establish the first Martian colony, Dani took intimate audiences to her version of the Red Planet where she serenaded them with a ukulele and broke the chains of millennial monotony. The Mediums are now expanding that solo into a show of planetary proportions for three large events this fall. The first debuts at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in partnership with Panorama, an artists collective in West Philly who will transform their warehouse space into a series of Mars-inspired installations. The second embarks at Colgate University where the departments of theatre and astrophysics shall finally collide. And the third revisits Rutherfurd Hall in a remote corner of New Jersey, where Mr. Rutherfurd first pointed his telescope at the Moon 150 years ago and took an iconic picture

Support ONE WAY RED and we'll thank you with everything we've got: art you can wear on your sleeve, mixtapes to drive you mad, radio dramas of your own devising, or even a play in your very own home. Your help gets us to Mars and you might even tag along!

WHAT'S UP WITH CONES?

Morgan and Mason are now touring the solo show about vampires, vision loss, and ice cream all over the place. In July CONES packed crowds into a pair of haybarns in Vermont, and this fall it hits the university circuit. As the show continues to grow, it's been sparking a lot of laughter alongside new conversations among people with dis/abilities and their friends and families about the nature of dis/ability passing. Stay tuned for more CONES shows (most of them free!) in Philly and elsewhere, and if you'd like to bring CONES to your community, drop us a line.

ALSO: While in Vermont, Morgan was interviewed by Jackie Batten at WGDR. Listen to the broadcast here:

CONES at Goddard College. Photo by Brenda Bowyer.

CONES at Goddard College. Photo by Brenda Bowyer.

Comment

Running THE GAUNTLET

Comment

Running THE GAUNTLET

— Hall of Haunts IV: THE GAUNTLET —

Elements conceived and directed by Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews,
Mason Rosenthal, Daniel Park and Elizabeth Weinstein.
Created with Alanna Bozman, Mal Cherifi, Dana Haberern, Paloma Irizarry,
Austin Kelley, Eliza Leighton, Eli Preston, Dani Solomon and Monica Wiles.
Costume help from Rebecca Kanach.

Performed October 23 and 24 at Rutherfurd Hall in Allamuchy, NJ
and October 30 at Chris Davis's house in Philadelphia, PA.

Contestant 29 (Mal Cherifi) faces off against Number 2 (Daniel Park) with Little Gene (Dana Haberern) in the tub at Rutherfurd Hall. Photo: Eli Preston.

Contestant 29 (Mal Cherifi) faces off against Number 2 (Daniel Park) with Little Gene (Dana Haberern) in the tub at Rutherfurd Hall. Photo: Eli Preston.

You know this story: It's the epic tale of our hero leaving home for adventure, hitting the road on a quest riddled with trials, and then arriving on the other side as the same hero, but transformed in some way. In any monomythic hero's journey, we are asked to invest ourselves in the story's protagonist: be it Odysseus or Arthur, Dorothy or Frodo, Skywalker or Potter, we sit on the sidelines rooting for them, feeling the cathartic pangs of their foils and the fist-pumping glory of their victories. And after they slay the dragon, blow up the Death Star, then make it back to Kansas and inherit a chocolate factory, their win and their wisdom is ours, even though we did little more than turn the pages or watch frames flicker by.

But what if you don't trust the hero? Maybe the hero is incredibly annoying, or prone to making mistakes, or perhaps a more suitable hero comes along. What if you could intervene and say, "Stand aside Luke—Leia is taking your place!" That was the premise of THE GAUNTLET, a hero's journey turned on its head and performed in two very different locations: first at a 40-room mansion in a tiny town, and then at a modest row home in a big city. In both locales the Mediums offered not one, but 10 different heroes to the 500 people who came to see the show, and every room presented new challenges not for the hero, but for the audience to answer: How long can you wait? Who is the biggest loser? What's behind that door? And do you like this particular hero enough to keep them in your story?

Labraíd the Clocksmith (Sebastian Cummings) chastises Persephone Proserpina (Dana Haberern) for her self-serving project in ALCHEMY. Phptp: Laurie Rapasardi.

Labraíd the Clocksmith (Sebastian Cummings) chastises Persephone Proserpina (Dana Haberern) for her self-serving project in ALCHEMY. Phptp: Laurie Rapasardi.

THE GAUNTLET was born in part from the Mediums' 2014 Halloween show, ALCHEMY, a true hero's journey in which the audience assists a young alchemist in bringing her twin sister back from the dead. On her way she is helped and hindered by various colleagues, and at one point I wondered, "Why do we trust her over the others? Just because she got to us first?" It's a similar question that Gregory McGuire posed in his 1995 novel Wicked that looks at the Land of Oz through the eyes of the Wicked Witch of the West instead of Dorothy. In L. Frank Baum's original Oz story from a century earlier, we put our faith in the witch Galinda because she's young and blond and claims to be good, and the only other witch in sight is lying around dead under a house, unable to give her version of things. Our other adopted allies, the Munchkinlanders, are cute and hospitable enough for us to overlook their zest for nationalism, witch-hunting and racial purity. ALCHEMY fed its audience similar tropes, and looking toward our 2015 Halloween show, I wanted to frustrate that by removing the hero/villain dichotomy and inviting the audience to choose whom their protagonist would be. Again, and agin.

Elizabeth Weinstein offers audience members a choice at Almanac Circus Dance Theatre's event, THE FLEECING. Photo: Morgan F.P. Andrews.

Elizabeth Weinstein offers audience members a choice at Almanac Circus Dance Theatre's event, THE FLEECING. Photo: Morgan F.P. Andrews.

Another ingredient for THE GAUNTLET came from a living installation by dancer Elizabeth Weinstein. At an event in Philadelphia in early 2015, Liz stood entwined in red thread, holding a ball of yarn in one hand and a knife in the other. For the price of a token, she'd either cut a single strand of yarn from her body or entwine herself twice more. As her friend I felt obliged to free her, and quickly spent all my tokens in the knife bucket. But with most people tossing theirs toward the yarn, my project was futile. As an audience we lacked a common goal: some people wanted to wrap, others to cut, and many just dropped tokens to see what would happen. But what if we were all bound together to make the choice: freedom or further entrapment? And what would the reward be for choosing one over the other?

With these ideas in mind, the Mediums assembled a team of 13 performer-creators who looked at maps, played lots of games, and spun a story about a purgatory-like institution that would transform those who had been losers in life into winners of death. This un-hero's journey became a rat race of gadget-laden contestants vying to finish first, relying completely on the audience to complete each trial. In one room they had to determine which door to open by asking the right questions. In another, the group worked together to outwit a weary monster. There were tests of observation and logic, and also ethics as we recreated Liz's yarn-and-knife game as a web in which the group decided who would stay and who would go. Liz herself played a Cerberus-like secretary named Gene who began the show by exchanged people's humanity for anonymity, and ended it by determining if one's loserdom in life could be traded in for success in death.

The Chair Monster, played by Austin Kelley. Photo: Eli Preston.

The Chair Monster, played by Austin Kelley. Photo: Eli Preston.

THE GAUNTLET was a tall order both for its performers to make (a meta-gauntlet to be sure) and also for the audience to win. On many occasions they would not pass a trial, and thereby lose their guide, sometimes during the penultimate scene. The result upset the trope trained into us by hundreds of heroes and their journeys over the ages. Other times they managed to get their contestant from start to finish, sometimes through the advent of bribery. While the contestant-guides were bound by THE GAUNTLET’s rules, bestowed by a mysterious Rule-Maker who held their fates in the grip of said rubric, the audience often realized the moral of the story: that rules can either be followed or broken, that there is a time and a place for both, and that notions of losing and winning are subjective. Though everyone chose a different path. In the end all made it through THE GAUNTLET victorious and perhaps a bit wiser for doing more than simply turning pages and watching frames flicker by.

Resources:

  • Baum, L. Frank, and Michael Hague. The Wizard of Oz. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1982. Print.
  • Bishop, Claire. "Participation and Spectacle: Where Are We Now?" Living as Form. Cooper Union, New York. 23 Sept. 2011. Lecture.
  • Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1972. Print.
  • LaTorra, Sage, and Adam Koebel. Dungeon World. Portland, OR: Sage Kobold, 2015. Print.
  • Mondegreen Collective. Capacity for Veracity: A Rowdy Evening of Keeping That Sh-t to Yourself. The Iron Factory, Philadelphia. 4 Sept. 2015. Performance.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail. EMI/Python Pictures/Michael White, 1975. Film. 
  • Park, Daniel. You Are The Hero. The Art Church, Philadelphia. 4 Sept. 2015. Performance.
  • Weinstein, Elizabeth. "Red Thread". The Fleecing: A Conclave for the Bumblefish. By Almanac Dance Circus Theatre. 1fiftyone Gallery, Philadelphia. 27 Feb. 2015. Performance.

Comment

Comment

From Base to Apex: Making CONES

CONES, the solo show about vampires, vision loss, and ice cream, soon premieres at the 2015 SoLow Fest here in Philadelphia. We've offered some peeks at the piece as it develops through workshops, short showings and an extensive blog, and WHYY just ran a 5-minute story about the show. CONES subject matter has been tricky: When you're a vampire, a big part of your identity is hiding that identity, or passing as a mortal. So it goes with being visually impaired and wanting to live your life as a fully-sighted person. And ice cream, well, it just can't last forever. But we've got some help with that...

Baby's on Board

The Mediums team up with Little Baby's Ice Cream who will be serving up their cones at CONES. We are currently in negotiation around flavors, so weigh in: Chocolate or vanilla? Blueberry of lychee? Strawberry pink peppercorn or lime toasted coconut?

Other Projects

Our website just got a tweak to facilitate your seeing where we've been and what's on the horizon. Mason recently wrapped up a huge project with his other theatre company Lightning Rod Special and is working on something new to take to the Edinburgh Fringe. After CONES opens, Morgan is organizing a project in South Philly with Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed and heading up to teach in Vermont. The Mediums reconvene in the fall for our annual Hall of Haunts, which—after 3 years in a New Jersey mansion—will have its Philly debut. And as always, we are taking invitations to stage Nobody's Home in your home. Interested? Get in touch.

Listen to coverage of CONES on WHYY's The Pulse 

Comment

Comment

Hearts & Cones

Some guest stars at our 2015 Valentines show—Can you spot the impostor? 

Whatever the season, we Mediums are game to celebrate the holidays. For three Octobers, company director Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews has led 70+ runs of our Halloween series in New Jersey, and this year we seek to expand that into Philadelphia. Also, we've just established an annual Valentine's tradition in Nobody's Home.

Hearts

What began as Mason Rosenthal's desire to host a play in his tiny South Philly bedroom for the 2013 SoLow Festival has exploded into an ongoing tour to a dozen cities with over 50 performances in bedrooms, kitchens, classrooms, and on board a roving mobile home at the NOLA Fringe. This meta one-man show, about a one-man show that goes a little awry, invites all sorts of things to actually go wrong: microphones and lights might combust, set pieces probably fall apart, audience members always get a little awkward or a bit too frisky, while cats, dogs and very small children sometimes steal the show—yet that is the show. We're not too sure when Nobody will come round again, but anybody can always invite Nobody somewhere anytime, and Nobody's taking offers for next Valentine's Day.

Cones

Now we flip the script: Mason will direct Morgan in a new solo show called CONES, the debut of which will be at this year's SoLow Festival. To get a taste of what the show will be about, take a look at Morgan and Mason's blog around the project. We'd love your input. And yes, there will be ice cream.

Comment

Notes on Alchemy

Comment

Notes on Alchemy

—Hall of Haunts III: ALCHEMY!—

An seasonal piece of theatre made for the rooms of Rutherfurd Hall

Created by: Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews (Tiresias the Reader, concept, script, lighting and set design), Sebastian Cummings (Labraid the Clocksmith), Dana Haberern (Persephone Proserpina, props), Liz Hollon (Persephone Proserpina), Rebecca Kanach (costumes, hallway denizen), Calia Marshall (hallway denizen), Lee Minora (Persephone Proserpina, songwriting), Jonathan Pfeffer (sound design, hallway denizen), Mason Rosenthal (Voice of Vincent the Rabbit, direction), Dani Solomon (Kalika the Inquisitor, production manager), Elizabeth Weinstein (Persephone Proserpina), and Vincent R. Abbot as himself.
Additional props by Chenda Cope. Production support from Laurie Rapasardi.

"Rustic Science can turn cream into butter; Biblical Science, water into wine; Modern Science shall make it possible to transform coal into diamonds, but not yet lead into gold—that is the work of Alchemy."

In his book, From Alchemy to Chemistry, author John Read describes the former (alchemy) as possessing strands of the latter (chemistry), “interwoven with threads from ancient and later religions, folklore, mythology, astrology, magic, mysticism, philosophy, theosophy, and other wide fields of human imagination and experience.” Alchemy emerged as an interdisciplinary art through the cultural and technological exchange in the Eastern Mediterranean around the 6th century BCE, and then spread across the hemisphere where it persisted until the Scientific Revolution of the late 17th century.  What we’re left with is an arcane pseudoscientific practice at the nexus of many cultures, and ideas which, by today’s standards, are mostly wrong.  But in their era the great alchemists, like today’s doctors and scientists, were the authority on the workings of the universe and all it contained.

Dana Haberern as Persephone Proserpina

Dana Haberern as Persephone Proserpina

To condense alchemy’s diverse history into less than 60 minutes was the Medium Theatre Company's assignment in October 2014. We transformed Rutherfurd Hall into the Allamuchy Alchemy Academy, home to the world’s few final alchemists and their noble attempts to grasp at the threads of their pseudoscience. Our protagonist guide invited the audience along to visit the Academy's other residents from whom she'd acquire the ingredients needed for her experiment. These ordinary objects shared their names with human body parts, like the recipe for the ironic automaton in the novelty jazz standard, “The Dummy Song”: 

I'll take the legs from some old table,
I'll take the arms from some old chair,
I'll take the neck from some old bottle,
And from a horse I'll take the hair,
I'll take the hands and face from off a clock,
And baby, when I'm through,
I'll get more loving from that dum, dum, dummy
Than I ever got from you!

We assembled similar objects in our story, but with a bit more eerie Halloween flavor, topped off with one gruesome final item: the very alchemist leading the quest must sacrifice her own life in order to revive her sister, as prescribed by the First Law of Alchemy:

“In order to attain something, one must give something up.”

Our play’s other alchemists, also abiding by this First Law, had each already given something up, and that thing was the clue for what the audience was looking for—a pair of eyes (the letter “I” twice), two hands encircling a face (off a clock), a tongue (from a shoe), and ears (corn)—all highlighted by characters whose visage was defined by the conspicuous absence (or overabundance) of these attributes.  A key detail was that for the alchemists who had no eyes or hands or tongues, the deficit of these organs was by no means a disability, but rather a different way of relating to the world and even the key to accessing greater power. We named these characters after legendary figures whose own disabilities also granted them greater abilities.  Our Reader in his library was named for Tiresias, that blind prophet of Thebes who foretells the latter half of The Odyssey when Odysseus and crew pay him a visit in the Underworld.  Our Clocksmith, Labraid, took his name from a mythical Irish king who won his realm in a boat race by becoming the first to touch land when he severed his own hand and threw it upon the shore.  Kalika, the Inquisitor, was named for the Bengali goddess Kali, whose only way to deal with her constant rampage of death and destruction was to go about with her tongue lolling out.  Our Kali, by contrast, kept hers hidden in a gesture of tempered fury that commanded the crowd’s attention and obedience. It's also important to note that some of the actors playing these characters live with real dis/abilities of their own, and performing dis/ability onstage can be a transformative act of mediumship.

Then there was our guide (played by four different actors so that we could run multiple performances simultaneously by starting tours every 20 minutes), whose quest was to collect the objects and then sacrifice her life to resurrect her sister…who then re-collects the same objects and sacrifices her life to resurrect her sister.  This endless cycle recalls the myth of Sisyphus, eternally trundling his boulder up a hill in Erebus only to have it roll down again, or Tantalus forever stretching up to eat unreachable grapes and stooping down to drink unattainable water.  The Queen of that Underworld was herself trapped in a cycle mandated by Zeus: stuck in Erebus with her possessive husband for one third of the year, then escaping her hellish curfew to bring springtime back to earth, only to return again when winter came.  And so our guides were named for this fertility/death goddess in her Greek and Roman incarnations: Persephone Proserpina.

Alchemy is, at its essence, a Sisyphean task.  Depictions of medieval alchemists are often ones of futile struggles to beget gold and silver from lead and tin.  Our alchemists too were like those condemned by ceaseless and futile toil, especially our Tiresius as an eyeless researcher whose effort is to determine the Laws of the Universe by reading every single page ever printed, and our handless Labraid, whose project is to remove the hands from all the world’s clocks in his desire to stop Time. Even more Sisyphean was the fact that these characters repeated their encounters with Persephone and her entourage every 20 minutes in a closed time loop far more confining than the one found in the 1993 film Groundhog Day

Sebastian Cummings as Labraid the Clocksmith and Dana Haberern as Persephone Proserpina

Sebastian Cummings as Labraid the Clocksmith and Dana Haberern as Persephone Proserpina

No matter how damned or damning her task, the audience always stood by their Persephone, a loyalty fueled by many factors: she was the host and explainer of the rules of the game, a lovely woman (or women) with an equally lovely name.  She bore no disfigurement (unless one thought maybe that she and her sister were one person, in which case half of her was missing), nor any off-putting tics (unless one decided that she was delusional about even having a sister). She was the protagonist and friend, and thereby anyone who crossed her was an antagonist and enemy.  And so everyone stood and sang the Allamuchy Alchemy Academy Anthem, and no one held any qualms when Persephone said she wanted to raise her sister from the dead, though everyone knew that this was probably a very bad idea.  When she made a deal with Vincent, a demonic woman-eating Rabbit to swap a lump of human flesh for the ears of decorative corn in his cage, someone always came forward, stuck her hand in that jar of bloody gristle and made the exchange.  And when Persephone entered Labraid’s chamber uninvited and asked for help in her completely self-serving project, she never failed to persuade everyone to abandon their ethics and conspire to steal a clock from him while he lay on the ground helpless and crying.  For one performance, an audience member even kicked him and called him a misogynist. We are all actors, after all, especially on Halloween.

weiditz.jpg

As Mediums, our theatre is a concoction of truth and fiction, actors and audience, and it's up to all of us to determine the outcome of our quest. The ancient alchemies of Aristotle and Jabir ibn Hayyan led us astray with erroneous information for two millennia, yet their core ideas—that everything shares a common soul balanced out by complementary forces—were later supported by the discovery of the atom and its composite parts. But even that idea shall surely one day shudder under the discoveries of a future science that will render today's periodic tables obsolete. Whether it's Halloween or not, are we playing the part of alchemists, thinking that we know everything about the universe? An audience willing to take the side of the first character to come along and tell us a compelling story? Do we follow that story, even when it conflicts with our ethics or basic logic? And what do we do when faced with a different truth, one supported on sturdier evidence? Indeed, in order to attain something, one must give something up—that is the First Law of Alchemy.

Selected References

  • Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. "The Danger of a Single Story." TED Talks. TED, July 2009. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.
  • Aristotle. Poetics. Cambridge,: Harvard University Press, 1995. Print. 
  • Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. BBC. 1972. Television.
  • Bishop, Claire. Participation. London: Whitechapel, 2006. Print.
  • Brooks, Douglas Renfrew. Poised for Grace: Annotations on the Bhagavad Gita from a Tantric View. The Woodlands, TX: Anusara, 2008. Print.
  • Dear White People. Dir. Justin Simien. Perf. Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner. Lionsgate, 2014. Film.
  • Duncan, Kath.  "Wannabes." Re:sound #69: The Body Image Show. Third Coast International Audio Festival. WBEZ, Chicago, IL, 2007. Radio. 
  • Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement. Dir. Regan Brashear. Perf. Patricia Berne, Fernanda Castelo, Hugh Herr. New Day Films, 2014
  • Groundhog Day. Dir. Harold Ramis. By Danny Rubin. Perf. Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Andie MacDowell. Columbia Pictures, 1993. Film.
  • Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New York: Back Bay, 1996. Print. 
  • Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Viking, 1996. Print.
  • Kinsley, David R. The Divine Player: A Study of Kṛṣṇa Līlā. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1979. Print.
  • Nicolas, J. L. "Red Hand Counties." World in Words Magazine. 20 Jan. 2013. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
  • Read, John. From Alchemy to Chemistry. New York: Dover Publications, 1995. Print.
  • Rose, Billy, Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson. "Dummy Song". Hoosier Hot Shots, 1944. Louis Armstrong, 1953. Decca Records. Vinyl recordings.
  • Sagan, Carl. "Astronomy and Astrology." Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. PBS. 1980. Television.
  • Salzberg, Hugh W. From Caveman to Chemist: Circumstances and Achievements. Washington, DC: American Chemical Society, 1991. Print.

Comment

Nobody, Alchemy and Power

Comment

Nobody, Alchemy and Power

The Mediums are embarking on tons of fun projects this fall all over the northeastern U.S., including our 5th house-show tour, our 3rd haunted mansion, and our 1st series of public workshops. Here's a rundown of what you can see and do:

Nobody's Home in NY, MA and RI

From October 12-20, Mason Rosenthal and Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews are bringing their portable one-man show Nobody's Home to bedrooms in Brooklyn, Boston, Providence and Nantucket (first time the show has been on a boat!) and then to Roger Williams University. We've added new material and if you've seen Nobody before, then you can imagine how different he and his show can be each time.. Tell your friends! Click here for reservations and to see more about the show.

Hall of Haunts III: "ALCHEMY!"

On October 24 and 25 Mason and Morgan will be joined by 8 other actors for our 3rd annual Hall of Haunts at Rutherfurd Hall, a historic mansion right off I-80 in the town of Allamuchy near the NJ/PA/NY border. Around 800 people come for Hall of Haunts each year where our actor-guides escort them in small groups for theatrical tours of the mansion. This year we feature a fully scripted new play about a young alchemist who takes the audience on a mission to revive her sister from a fate that befell her during a mysterious experiment. Each room presents an interactive scene and a puzzle for the audience to figure out in order to complete the quest. Will this be the best Hall of Haunts yet? You bet! Tours run every 20 minutes from 6 to 10 PM. 

Playing with Power workshop series

Lastly, the Mediums have some new and different projects brewing for 2015 for which we are holding free public workshops. The first of these will be on the first 3 Mondays in November in partnership with Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed. Click here to read more about it.

The Mediums look forward to seeing you somewhere soon!

Comment

On the road (and in bed) with Nobody

Comment

On the road (and in bed) with Nobody

Nobody's Home began as a personal piece performed by Mason Rosenthal in his own South Philly bedroom. Some 30 bedrooms later, it's gotten far more personal. Nobody got this nice writeup in The Pittsburgh Tribune, and I snapped these pictures from behind the soundboard at homes in DC, Baltimore, New York, New Jersey and Baltimore:

For more musings on Nobody's Home, click here. And to invite Nobody to your home, email us!

Comment

Notes about Nobody

Comment

Notes about Nobody

Nobody's Home

A multi-sensory meditation-comedy on the nature of nothing
performed for extraordinary audiences in ordinary bedrooms

Co-created by Mason Rosenthal and Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews
Performed by Mason Rosenthal
Direction and design by Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews
Music by Jonathan Pfeffer
Costumes by Rebecca Kanach
Movement consultants Magdalene San Millan and Chelsea Murphy
Logo design by Kylin Metler

Mason Rosenthal with "Somebody Special" during the second Philly run of Nobody's Home in January of 2014. Photo © JJ Tiziou www.jjtiziou.net

Mason Rosenthal with "Somebody Special" during the second Philly run of Nobody's Home in January of 2014. Photo © JJ Tiziou www.jjtiziou.net

Nobody's Home is an original piece of theatrical performance created by Mason Rosenthal and Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews of the Medium Theatre Company. This interactive one-man variety show stars a personality named Nobody played by Rosenthal, who serves the audience guided meditations, hand-shadow fables, foot rubs, sweet tea and snacks until his harmonious world gets poked at by lingering bitterness from a past relationship. Andrews and Rosenthal created the piece collaboratively through theatrical improvisations to premiere in Philadelphia’s 2013 SoLow Fest, a DIY festival of new experimental solo work. What started as an idea to lead a small audience through a guided meditation gone wrong in Rosenthal’s bedroom, quickly turned into an elaborate interdisciplinary work that’s since played to packed crowds at colleges, house parties, and on board a recreational vehicle at the New Orleans Fringe Festival.

A Voice Inside Your Head

The original idea for Nobody was that of a spiritual teacher, based on German-born author Eckhart Tolle. Mason originally performed the "Eckhart voice" while wearing a mask built by sculptor Ryan Kelly in the 2012 Philly Fringe Festival piece Mining the Mine of the Mind for Minderals (MMMM for short), which Mason co-created and performed with Megan Mazarick. A month later the mask and voice returned in a more sinister fashion as "Nobody" or "The Voice Inside Your Head" in the Mediums' first Hall of Haunts at Rutherfurd Hall and some subsquent solo engagements. The voice (sans mask) appeared yet again in the Mediums' 2013 play, Meet the Mediums. Here the Voice Inside Your Head was used as a comedic conversation partner for the play's antagonist to perform internal dialogues for the audience.

In Nobody's Home, the offstage voice of Nobody returns to a more genial, Tolle-inspired character, with some twists that evolved (and continue to evolve) through the devising process, as Nobody now dialogues with not just the audience or another character, but also with his most vulnerable self.

Mason Rosenthal and home host Bruce Schimmel durin the "7 Homes in 7 Days Tour" in January 2014.  Photo © JJ Tiziou www.jjtiziou.net

Mason Rosenthal and home host Bruce Schimmel durin the "7 Homes in 7 Days Tour" in January 2014.  Photo © JJ Tiziou www.jjtiziou.net

Devising a Plot

We created Nobody's Home out of Mason's desire to make a show for his tiny South Philly bedroom. He asked Morgan to direct and they began working with structured improvisations using a stopwatch based loosely on techniques similar to those employed by the composer John Cage: Morgan would sit outside the room for 2 minutes while Mason set up the environment. Morgan would enter and Mason had just 1 minute to come up with some unique bit of performance. When the timer went off at the end of that minute, Morgan returned to the hall for another 2 minutes, and the cycle repeated, with Mason exploring different motifs that ranged from stillness and silence, to wild cacophonous dances under the bedclothes, to Aesop-inspired hand-shadow fables told on the fly. The best of these moments were then expanded into more fleshed-out scenes, and Morgan began collecting objects—a plastic portrait of an eagle, a ceramic chicken, a pair of brass swans, a handful of rubber turtles—all of whom became the play's co-stars.

Mason also enlisted composer Jonathan Pfeffer to create and perform a live musical score for the original run. Jon's role was originally conceived as a Paul Schaffer to Mason's David Letterman, and another theme emerged: that of a charismatic talk show host who would do a variety of things to entertain the audience

See the full roster of Medium Theatre Company shows ➔

Comment

Comment

The Mediums enter a new medium

Phreno Head.jpg

Greetings! Welcome to the Medium Theatre Company's online counterpart, known colloquially as "mediumtheatre.org". The Mediums formed to make our first play, The Sea of Tranquility, in early 2011. Now nearly 2 years and 5 plays later, we've mustered up the gusto to rent an apartment on the internet.

If you've seen our stuff at Rutherfurd Hall, or the various cabaret acts we've performed  at The Rotunda, you may have expected something more old-fashioned, but it's hard to find authentic Victorian-era sites on the web these days. Sure, we could have rehabbed something to make it look like a vintage website from the 19th century, but opted instead for more modern furnishings, complete with parallax scrolling and san-serif headings.

Every theatre artist who makes a website does so for one reason: to facilitate your coming out to see our work. Click on the upcoming tab to see where and when our plays are playing, or click about and scroll down to find out how we can come haunt your space or even make original work for it. Our goal with this site is to provide the essentials: not too much, nor too little, but that Goldilocks zone known as medium.

Admittedly, this is not our first foray out into the internets. We took a little dip in the blogpond last February to provide supplemental material for Meet the Mediums. Scroll down and you may see some of that replicated here.

Happy perusing, and please express your like for us. We like you too.

The Medium Theatre Company

Comment

Comment

Medium Manifesto at Goddard's Alternative Media Conference

MEDIUMS!  Ben Matchstick as chicken farmer, Ben Altshire as DJ, Trish Denton as photographer, Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews as artist, Adam Cook as baby, Erok Guillard as babysitter, and Cathleen Carr as telephone operator.

MEDIUMS!  Ben Matchstick as chicken farmer, Ben Altshire as DJ, Trish Denton as photographer, Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews as artist, Adam Cook as baby, Erok Guillard as babysitter, and Cathleen Carr as telephone operator.

Medium Definition Title.jpg

Medium Theatre Company founder Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews was invited to Vermont to preside over the entertainment portion of Goddard College's Alternative Media Conference.  As an alumnus of the college, he also performed excerpts of two of the Mediums' plays: 1. "The Moon and our Future" from The Sea of Tranquility, and 2. "The Medium Manifesto",  a scene from Meet the Mediums performed and adapted using the scant selection of objects found under the stage leftover from Goddard's long defunct on-campus theatre program.  The conference commemorated Goddard's 150th anniversary and paid tribute to the first Alt Media gathering 43 years earlier for which a plane was hijacked by UC Berkley hippies and people copulated on the floor during an underground comics panel.  This rendition of "The Medium Manifesto" was pretty much the 2013 equivalent of those post-summer-of-love antics from 1970, only clad in combustable green jumpsuits.

Comment

Meet the Cast

Comment

Meet the Cast

All of the actors in Meet the Mediums had a hand in writing, designing and directing the show.  Follow the links in their bios to see what else they're up to.

Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews (Montrose Medium, playwright, director, dramaturg, designer, drums and ukulele) was a noisemaker, a radio DJ, a vegan short-order cook, and then visual artist before starting to make theatre-in-earnest in 1998.  He’s since toured his shows around three continents and curated over 100 events for an international network of do-it-yourself theatre-makers at venues and festivals in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Vermont and Brazil.  Somewhere in there he earned a degree in performance studies from Goddard College, got some art and writing published in several books, and began working in the Theatre of the Oppressed with guidance from TOPLAB in New York City, Brazilian director Augusto Boal, and India's Jana Sanskriti movement.  Morgan lives in Philadelphia where he leads theatre workshops, teaches yoga, and is frequently called upon to dress up and MC various events.  He founded the Medium Theatre Company in 2011 as a means to mix these diverse disciplines and assuage the hunger of a growing cult of fans.

Dorie Byrne (Selene Medium, music director, accordion, piano, trombone and ukulele) hails from Sparta, New Jersey and has since taken her major in music to new heights, lengths and depths in recent productions of Richard III  and Less Miserable [sic] with Der Vorführeffekt Theatre. When she isn't acting in plays (which is most of the time) she's usually playing music for them.  She also distorts accordion sounds and performs live scores during Philadelphia's Fringe Festival with her band Upholstery.  She has the greatest job ever teaching girls how to play music with Girls Rock Philly.  Outside of music she works with animals; walking dogs and raising chickens.

Sarah Gladwin Camp (Marsha McMedium, director of choreography, bass drum and ukulele) began dance life at Swarthmore College, which gave her opportunities to study movement abroad in Australia and Eastern Europe, and later pursued professional training at Trinity Laban Conservatoire and The Circus Space in London.  She has danced in festivals throughout Eastern Europe and across the U.S. and has performed in Poland, Italy, England, Philadelphia, and NYC.  In 2004 she co-founded Green Chair Dance Group, a Philadelphia-based collaborative dance theater company with whom she continues to experiment, choreograph, perform.  She is Board President at Mascher Space Cooperative and sits on the Advisory Board of DanceUSA/Philadelphia.  Currently in Philadelphia Sarah designs and runs ZoomDance Action Adventure Story-Telling Movement Classes for young kids.  Doing cartwheels makes Sarah’s heart flutter and her whistling is better than her singing.

Dana Haberern (Aurora Medium, sound design, fiddle and ukulele) joined the Medium Theatre Company for its first play, The Sea of Tranquility, as an actor, singer, dancer, fiddle player, mandolinist, animated filmmaker and seamstress.  She also performs Shakespeare with Dead Playwrights Repertory and does magic tricks if you twist her arm.  Dana studied theatre at the University of the Arts but was corrupted by Headlong Dance Theatre's Performance Institute into making less traditional work.  She lives in a New Jersey home filled with pendulums, cellos, old-time radios, and almost anything else that the Medium Theatre Company might need for its productions—almost  anything.

Kimya Imani Jackson (Professor Sonia Doré, co-director, autoharp, bell and ukulele) has a B.A. in Psychology from Spelman College and Ph.D. in Biobehavioral Health from The Pennsylvania State University.  She is a dancer, performance artist, choreographer, experienced gerontologist, and a screendance practitioner and has been exposed to and explored all the ways the human body moves in various settings.  She has performed with {Your Name Here} Performance Collective, Urban Bush Women Leadership Institute, Eng & Friends Dance Company, Philadanco, Temple University, Freedom Theatre, Total Dance/Dancical Productions, and helped create the Medium Theatre Company's "Hall of Haunts" in 2012.  Additionally, she evaluates future medical doctors, teaches meditation/mindfulness seminars, and provides Reiki sessions.  Hello Kitty, candy corns, and cornbread are some of her favorite things in life!

Mason Rosenthal (Junior Medium, co-director, cello and ukulele) is an actor, dancer, director and teacher from Skokie, Illinois.  He holds a B.F.A. in drama from New York University where he studied with The Atlantic Theater Company Acting School.  In 2007 Mason joined the faculty at The Atlantic and has since taught many aspects of their core curriculum including voice, movement, script analysis, and acting technique.  He has studied improvisational dance techniques with his mentor George Russell, D.C. since 2006.  In 2011 he moved from NYC to Philadelphia to be the Headlong Performance Institute's first ever teaching fellow.  Mason is an original member of the Medium Theatre Company and co-created their first piece The Sea of Tranquility at Rutherfurd Hall in 2012.  Mason's work is currently supported by the Live Arts Brewery  as a 2012-2013 LAB fellow.

Travis Sehorn (Frank Falsetto, soundsmith, guitar and ukulele) is a performer and poet from Montana, now living in New Orleans.  He has toured three plays nationally with the Missoula Oblongata, starred in Der Vorführeffekt Theatre's production of Less Miserable [sic], as well as many other smaller theater projects.   Travis also works as a movie extra in New Orleans, and while on tour across Europe in 2010, he acted and performed music in Morning Dew, a futuristic animal apocalypse film made in London.  When on break from performing, Travis writes songs, which have resulted in 11 full albums.  Also a manuscript of poems will hopefully be published soon...

Comment

Comment

The Medium Theatre Company

Hannah De Keijzer, Hall of Haunts,  October 2012 Mask by Ryan Kelly, Photo by Amy Hufnagel

Hannah De Keijzer, Hall of Haunts,  October 2012
Mask by Ryan Kelly, Photo by Amy Hufnagel

The Medium Theatre Company

is a Philadelphia based collaborative of performers and artists who devise work for specific spaces.  We use the given space as a starting point for revealing a story based on that space's history in relation to the present moment.  Once the idea is solidified, we improvise on it, creating images, movements, sounds and words. Everyone does a little bit of everything: actors take up dancing, dancers play musical instruments, musicians assume character roles, and all put in whatever technical know-how they have to create the play.  Once set in the space for which it was intended, the audience adds the final ingredient and our work as mediums is fulfilled.

Dana Haberern as Aurora Medium in Meet the Mediums

Dana Haberern as Aurora Medium in Meet the Mediums

Meet the Mediums is the third production to be performed by the Medium Theatre Company at Rutherfurd Hall.  The Mediums’ first, The Sea of Tranquility, united characters from local history and folklore to unveil stories from multiple angles using physical theatre, illustrated lecture, music, dance and film.  The Mediums’ second, The Hall of Haunts, guided small audiences on tours through an institute of eerie occurrences to interact with various spiritualists and pseudo-scientists within each of their own environs.  This third play, Meet the Mediums, brings all of these ideas together for an interactive spectacle that rumples the newsprint of time, space, media and our relationship to all.  

Comment

Comment

Medium: Definitions

"the middle quality between two extremes of size or another quality"

"the middle quality between two extremes of size or another quality"

me•di•um

|ˈmēdēəm| noun (pl. media |-dēə| or mediums)

1. an agency or means by which something is communicated, expressed or performed; the intervening substance through which impressions are conveyed to the senses; the substance in which an organism lives or is cultured.

2. the material or form used by an artist, composer, performer, writer or other craftsperson.

3. a person claiming to be in contact with the spirits of the dead and to communicate between the dead and the living.

4. adjective: the middle quality or state between two extremes of size or another quality; a reasonable balance; halfway between rare and well-done.

5. the name of a fictitious family and a real theatre company encompassing all of the above ideas.

"an agency or means by which something is communicated"

"an agency or means by which something is communicated"

Comment

Comment

Meet: Professor Sonia Doré

THE WANDERING PROFESSOR WHO

CARRIES A LAB IN HER SUITCASE

A Strange Science Exclusive!

From Strange Science Monthly, April 1938

The ever-changing science of chemistry has mystified man since he first discovered fire.  Like the five vowels that are the basis of our language, the ancient Hindoos and Greeks saw the universe as being made up of just five elements: earth, water, air, fire, and sometimes "ether", that unknown space between everything else.  By the Middle Ages, alchemists had isolated 13 mineral elements and tried in vain to transmute one into another well before the Renaissance brought us the knowledge of our air being a mixture of elemental gases.  In 1869 the Russian D. I. Mendeleev gave us the first modern Periodic Table listing 63 chemical elements, and just last year the Italians Perier and Segrè raised that number to 89 with their synthesis of technetium.  Indeed, something akin to alchemy is alive and well, even in our modern 20th century.  But dabble in alchemy—or anything other than “established” science—and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a job.

That’s been the challenge for “wandering professor” Sonia Doré.  “There are other approaches to understanding these universal building blocks,” says this woman who holds a PhD in chemistry from New York University.  “We look at the periodic table with all of its colored squares as a way of grasping how the smallest of particles relate to each other.  It’s a useful tool, but only one of many for unlocking the secrets of the world.”

Doré’s lab work began in the southern college circuit, but that was only part of her training.  As a chemist by day, Doré spent her nights with doing field work professed healers—jujus and hoodoos, modern-day alchemists working in Harlem and New Orleans, Cuba and Haiti.  Combining her academic acredidation with these other understandings of chemistry—many as ancient as the Greek lore handed down to western men— Professor Doré is taking science to where few men (or women) have taken it before—in more ways than on.  Traveling by train with a portable laboratory, small enough to fit into a suitcase, she collects her atomic wherever she can find them: sticks of chalk, roots rich in mineral content, and ordinary sand are some favorite staples that she uses for experiments, as well as reading dreams, healing psyches, and chasing out evil spirits.

Professor Doré often adds to her lectures by accompanying herself on the autoharp.

Professor Doré often adds to her lectures by accompanying herself on the autoharp.

With her presentation that’s part lecture, part séance, Professor Doré never turns down an invitation to speak.  Roaming from town to town, she’s visited veteran’s hospitals, sanitariums, horse doctors, events hosted by the Rotary Club and the American Theosophical Society, and even some churches.

“The university will teach you so much,” says Professor Doré, “but only so much.  And they aren’t yet ready for a woman like me to literally come and stir things up.”

Professor Doré’s Traveling Lecture and Séance will be passing though the Midwest this spring, then over to California for the Summer before making its way back east this fall.  For an updated itinerary of Professor Doré’s engagements, please send a self-addressed envelope to the address given at the front of this magazine.

Comment

About <i>Meet the Mediums</i>

Comment

About Meet the Mediums

The Medium Theatre Company & Rutherfurd Hall
⁓ present ⁓


Meet the Mediums

a play conceived by Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews
with Dana Haberern, Dorie Byrne, Kimya Jackson,
Mason Rosenthal, Sarah Gladwin Camp & Travis Sehorn
costumes by Rebecca Kanach, production by Amy Capomacchio 

March 1st & 2nd & 3rd 2013
at Rutherfurd Hall • Allamuchy, New Jersey

 

MEET THE MEDIUMS is an impossible comedy about a family of fortune-tellers, time-wrinklers and spiritualists, or—more accurately—mediums, who live an eccentric and luxurious life in the tumultuous 1930s.  Performed in an historic mansion, the play will take you from room to room to wrestle with séances, media studies, quantum mechanics, pyrokinesis, contact sports, skepticism, music theory, romantic feelings from distraught teenagers, tantric yoga, somatic therapy, and a dance number involving seven ukuleles (there's also a cello, a piano, an accordion, guitar-and-fiddle duets, plus some percussion happening in this play).  

In the days leading up to opening night, we invite you to meet the characters here.  They are:

  • Marsha McMedium (her maiden name), a savvy suffragette who channels her clairvoyant abilities from ordinary newspapers.
  • Montrose Medium, a quarterback savant that’s unaware of what’s going on at the present moment but always knows what will happen 20 seconds into the future.
  • The Medium Sisters, Auroraand Selenetwin philosopher musicians who speak with the spirits but haven’t spoken to each other in 17 years.
  • And then there’s Junior, that feckless weak-chinned boy—will he ever amount to anything besides his constant sniveling and skulking?  Perhaps he just needs some rousing words from President Roosevelt…or maybe a girlfriend.  

~ But How do these Mediums do what they do?
~ And What will happen when a guitar-toting stranger’s car breaks down nearby?
~ Or When will the professor of paranormality pop in to hug her autoharp?  
~ Yet Who is the mysterious voice inside your head warning you not to move the chewing gum from its hiding place beneath the divan?  You’d better do what it says, hadn’t you?  

These questions, and so many more, shall be asked—and maybe even answered—in Meet the Mediums.

☞ FRIDAY • MARCH 1 • 8PM TICKETS
☞ SATURDAY • MARCH 2 • 6PM TICKETS ☜
☞ SATURDAY • MARCH 2 • 8PM TICKETS ☜
☞ SUNDAY • MARCH 3 • 6PM TICKETS ☜

Comment

Comment

An Invisible Parrot, Perhaps

 

MEDIUMS: MINDREADERS

OR MASQUERADERS?

Common thieves, Russian spies, and invisible parrots all suspected

From The Cincinnati Scepter, August 8, 1936

The world famous Medium Family of Allamuchy, New Jersey, has made quite a splash of late.  At a recent New York City engagement, these Mediums (in more than one sense of the word) described past events for dozens of people in the audience, listed objects that people had in their pockets, and forecast a number of in-house happenings mere moments before they occurred—all with absolute certainty and correctness.

“I had a silver pocketwatch with a crack in the glass, a billfold with two dollars and a stick of gum in it, and a lucky thimble that I always carry around with me,” says Sheldon Sheingold of Brooklyn who was in attendance and came onstage as a randomly chosen volunteer.  “Not only did they name all these things, but they talked about Kugel, which was not just my favorite food as a kid but also the name of my puppy dog back then.”

The crowd applauded for the Mediums and for Sheingold alike when, just before walking offstage, Montrose Medium, the head of the family proclaimed, “In just a moment, Mr. Sheingold shall trip and fall on his way down the steps.”

He did just that.

“How’d they know?” said Sheingold, talking to the press from his hospital bed, his bandaged leg elevated in a sling.  “And if they did know, why didn’t they stop it from happening?”

★ ★ ★

Questions like Mr. Sheingold’s are on the minds of many who have come in contact with the Medium Family. 

Alleged senatorial corset

Alleged senatorial corset

At one engagement in Chicago, Mr. Medium stated, “Before you leave the theatre, those of you who left your coats with the check girl are in for a nasty shock.”  Sure enough, all the contents of patrons’ pockets were missing and the check girl was nowhere to be found. 

At a gala event in Atlanta, Georgia, Marsha McMedium (her maiden name) divulged that a Democratic senator was wearing a corset and brassiere beneath his tuxedo, right after Mr. Medium pronounced, “In just a moment, this gentlemen shall turn the color of a beet, grab his hat, coat, and wife, and then vacate the premises.”  These events transpired, though the senator's alleged corset and brassiere were never verified.

“I have many theories as to what’s transpiring at these events,” says Dr. Randall Harris of Missoula, Montana.  “One theory is that these so-called mediums* are using the power of suggestion to make these events occur.  Suggestion can sometimes be so strong that it can almost be called coercion—or even hypnosis.”

Dr. Harris, whose specialty is psychology, when asked about a theory that the Mediums are in cahoots with a ring of pickpockets said,  “As a man of science, I can neither verify nor refute these claims.  Not without hard evidence.  There are those who say that Mr. Medium has spent time in Communist Russia and carries a device that sends direct signals to the KGB.  I’ve also heard a theory that there is an invisible parrot sitting on Marsha McMedium’s shoulder, whispering secrets in her ear.”

Dr. Harris went on to say that an invisible parrot was implausible, but that a “very small parrot” would be possible.

The Medium Family performs this Tuesday, August 11th, at the Bastion Hill Auditorium in downtown Cincinnati.  It is predicted that there will not be an empty seat in the house.

*Editor’s note:  Mr. Harris’s use of the phrase “so-called mediums” refers to the family’s occupation being put into question, whereas the family’s surname is indeed “Medium” , a fact that this reporter has verified through reputable sources.

Comment

Comment

Meet: Aurora Medium

GIRL HEARS RADIO GHOSTS:

INSISTS THEY ARE NOT DEAD

Explanation hailed by physicists and mystics alike

From The Beantown Borealis, June 21, 1938

17-year-old Aurora Medium of New Jersey is no ordinary girl.  As a radio enthusiast, she’s tuned into sounds and ideas from all over the globe.  She follows politics and will readily quote from President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats.  A music lover, Miss Medium adores everything from opera to Appalachia, and can play violin along to Mozart as easily as she fiddles to A. P. Carter.  As extraordinary as she already is, Miss Medium claims to tune her radio even further afield:  into the spirit realm.

“People always ask me how I speak to the dead, which isn’t exactly accurate,” says Miss Medium.  She explains,  “The voices that I hear are not dead.  They are of people living in parallel dimensions, alternate realities that could have been had something gone a bit differently.”

This writer had the pleasure of seeing Miss Medium perform her radio feat at the Somerville Theatre last week.  Not far from Harvard University, Tufts College, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Miss Medium’s stage show drew many from the scientific community, as well as those interested in spiritualism.  Certain academics in the audience came as outspoken skeptics, but were won over by evening’s end—not just by the young lady’s charm, but by her clear understanding of science.

“She had a clear analysis of two physical principles,” stated professor John C. Slater, chair of M.I.T.’s department of Physics, “that of radio waves, which are rudimentary, and also of quantum mechanics, which are not.” 

Professor Slater went on to cite recent work by a group of physicists based out of Princeton University, summing it up like this:  “When an event occurs, it takes us down a certain pathway, just as if we were take the left fork at a split on a highway.  But should that same event have a different result, say going right at that same fork in the road, it changes our entire reality altogether.  But the other path still exists, running parallel to the one we took.”

Miss Medium demonstrated this concept onstage by tuning in her radio to hear voices of people in alternate realities.  In one such communication, we heard the voice of a longshoreman in Nova Scotia in a reality where the Great Halifax Explosion of 1917 had never occurred, resulting in that city becoming the second largest in North America.  In another broadcast, we heard the voice of the first woman governor of Rhode Island, although our nation has never had any female heads of state.  For her finale, Miss Medium spoke to the famous magician Harry Houdini who passed away a dozen years ago.

“In this universe,” says Miss Medium, referring to the reality with which we are all familiar, “Mr. Houdini died from complications due to a poorly timed punch to the stomach.  But tonight we hear the Great Houdini himself, not back from the grave, but having sidestepped that grave altogether!”

“As supernatural as it seems,” say Professor Slater, “this is actually very advanced physics.  Should she come to Cambridge, our department is prepared to offer the young lady a full scholarship.” 

But Miss Medium isn’t interested.  “I learn more about the world by traveling around it with my stage presentation,” she says, “and about other worlds just by tuning my radio.”

17-year-old Aurora Medium of New Jersey is no ordinary girl.  As a radio enthusiast, she’s tuned into sounds and ideas from all over the globe.  She follows politics and will readily quote from President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats.  A music lover, Miss Medium adores everything from opera to Appalachia, and can play violin along to Mozart as easily as she fiddles to A. P. Carter.  As extraordinary as she already is, Miss Medium claims to tune her radio even further afield:  into the spirit realm.

“People always ask me how I speak to the dead, which isn’t exactly accurate,” says Miss Medium.  She explains,  “The voices that I hear are not dead.  They are of people living in parallel dimensions, alternate realities that could have been had something gone a bit differently.”

Comment

Comment

Meet: Selene Medium

PIANO RECITAL CLEARS ROOM,

WINS COMMISSION

Local Pianist Wins Prize and Distances Fans with New 12-Tone Composition

From The Lehigh Valley Luna, March 15, 1933

At the recent 2nd annual Sussex County Young Pianists Competition, a local girl performed an original composition.  12-year-old Selene Medium introduced her work as, “Voices of the Past,” and claimed it to be an actual interpretation of voices from deceased residents of the tri-state area.

Because of the general cacophony one would expect from such a piece, the audience grew restless.  They soon began to leave, grumbling quietly to themselves about “heebee-jeebees.”

“At first I thought she just couldn’t play,” said local Music Guild vice president Ernest Bowtie, “and then she started speaking along with the music, saying all sorts of things my mother would say before she passed away.”

The piece was of the contemporary variety: without a sense of key, rhythm, melody, or any of the other niceties of music (the Guild had enough good sense to put the performance last).  By the end of the performance, the only people left were the members of the girl’s family, and a Mr. John Cage from New York’s New School for Social Research.  Mr. Cage enjoyed the piece thoroughly and has commissioned another on behalf of a circle of Greenwich Village composers.  Go figure.

Comment

Comment

Meet: Marsha McMedium (part two)

PSYCHIC QUARTERBACK 
TURNS SIDESHOW FREAK

After Twin Injuries and Unwanted Careers, 
Medium Comes Home to Settle Down

From The New New Jersey News, September 12, 1928 
(Part Two—Click here to read Part One)

By 1918 the crowds had vanished and the Bettystown Badgers were just an ordinary team of pigskin passers.  Meanwhile Monty Medium had been all but forgotten.  Though able to walk and talk, the concussion had rendered him unaware of anything in the present moment.  At only 19 years of age and with neither sense of past or present, the ex-football star now spoke exclusively in a series of proclamations that stated what would be happening in the next moment.  But whereas at Bettystown this ability had catapulted the young Medium to stardom, he now became less of a sensation and more of a curiosity.  After two years of being the idol of the football field and pawn of the gambling syndicate, Monty Medium was abandoned, only to roped into the sideshow circuit. 

Decrepit carnies carted Montrose from town to town along with other “oddities of nature.”  For five cents onlookers entered into sideshow booths, circus tents and vaudeville houses, lured in by painted signs for “Freak Forecasts Future” or “Seer Savant.”  Barely aware of his own name and with no memory of the past, Monty Medium’s stage show was completely at the whim of his exploiters who never gave Medium a dime, leaving him in limbo for another two years.  Until his future wife walked into his life.

“When I found him, he was living like an injured housepet,” says Marsha McMedium (no blood relation—“McMedium” is her family name).  As something of a psychic herself, she made a habit of frequenting sideshows and circuses to meet others who share her skills.  When she found Monty Medium one day performing on Coney Island’s Boardwalk, she found his situation deplorable.  “He was underfed and not being paid for his gifts, so I used my knowledge of notary negotiations to nullify all carny contracts.  I even got them to pay me to take Monty off their hands.

Ms. McMedium soon helped rehabilitate Mr. Medium and within the year the two were married and took a break from touring to start a family.  “We have two daughters and a son,” says Marsha.  “They travel with us everywhere and are honing their own gifts of mediumship.  Look forward to their stage debut soon.”

Last year the Mediums returned to Warren County.  Many of Monty’s old teammates still reside in the area, and on Saturdays they still pass the ball around for fun.  Rumor has it that the ex-footballer-cum-spiritualist has taken up the practice of yoga, passed on to him by contortionists from his sideshow days.  Locals also report that they’ve seen Monty Medium step out to collect the morning papers, wearing his old uniform and leather football helmet, ready for action.

Comment

Comment

Meet: Monty Medium (part one)

FOOTBALL'S “SECRET WEAPON"
FINDS NEW CALLING

One Medium’s Mysterious Mishap Leads to Life in the Limelight

From The New New Jersey News, September 12, 1928

The football held by Monty Medium when he was "ambushed" on the field in 1917.  It is rumored that he still carries it with him on his travels.

The football held by Monty Medium when he was "ambushed" on the field in 1917.  It is rumored that he still carries it with him on his travels.

They were an unbeatable team, often scoring a dozen touchdowns before their opponents could make it past the 20-yard line.  By 1917 Warren County had become a football mecca, with fans arriving by train from all over the Eastern Seaboard to see the Badgers play.  But how did this ordinary varsity team of ordinary farm boys rise to be the talk of the nation?

Suspicions abounded that some tomfoolery lay underfoot: that perhaps a wealthy backer had, out of regional pride, bribed all competitors to wither before the mighty Badgers.  Detectives were called upon to investigate and the verdict was that the Badgers’ impeccable streak was won fair and square.  Suspicion turned to superstition when sources revealed that the Badgers players would perform certain “rites and rituals” before each and every game.  Was Beattystown Boys School a warren of occultist activity?  And if so, who was their ringleader?

The answer lay in an extraordinary boy: a straight-A student rumored to possess the power to predict the future.

“I knew Monty Medium as a pupil,” says superintendent Schöenhorn who has been with the district for 33 tears.  “He wasn’t particularly hard-working in either academics or athletics, it’s just that he always knew what was about to happen.”

Montrose “Monty” Medium arrived in New Jersey an orphan and survivor of the Titanic disaster of 1912.  He’d been a cabin boy while his parents worked in the commissary before their tragic death by drowning when that ship ran up against an iceberg.  A prominent New York family took him in and enrolled him in boarding school near their summer home.  Not wanting to dwell on his tragic past, Monty Medium looked toward the future, so much so that he could even predict it.

“We ran tests on the boy,” recounts Dr. Sheldon Synapstein of Princeton University.  “Psychologically the trauma of losing his parents blocked his memory.  Physiologically, it may be that he suffered a concussion when boarding the lifeboat, resulting in a neurological condition that science has yet to understand.”

Whatever the cause, the benefits outweighed the losses, as right before things happened, the young Medium knew what would occur—from presents opened at Christmastime, to answers to classroom quizzes, to football plays.

“He was never athletically inclined,” says Schöenhorn, “he was just watching a school game one day and named every play 20 seconds before it happened, so the coach recruited him.”

But even with a winning team in its midst, not all stayed rosy in Warren County.  Beginning with the rumored occult activity around the Beattystown Badgers, the team’s mystique attracted some unsavory doings.  With the crowds of football fans came the gambling syndicate.  And crime.

“There were all these people coming through here we didn’t know,” says Gela Macungie whose family has lived around the Lehigh Valley for as long as she can remember.  “Bad people who were always making noise, leaving trash and causing trouble.”

That trouble apparently bore down upon young Montrose.  For even though he could, by all accounts, predict the future, he found himself the target of an opposing team’s clever play.

“They ambushed him,” remembers Schöenhorn.  “They’d studied the Badgers’ strategy, sliced it every possible way and came up with an offensive tackle he couldn’t avoid.”

Some suspect foul play on the part of the crime bosses’ influence over the game, others speculate the Monty Medium had grown weary and wary of the attention he had garnered and so threw the game.  But the price he paid was dear: a second brain injury, inflicted on the football field, put the boy into a vegetative state for 99 days.  When he recovered, he was not quite the same.

End of Part One.  Click here to read Part Two.

Comment