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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Carolyn in front of a projected slide reproduced from the Arnold collection.

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The moment you’ve all been waiting for! The Wonder Show is proud to present two unique magic lantern performances exploring Providence’s rich historical heritage on May 18th and 19th at 7:00 PM at 95 Empire Street.

GET YOUR FREE TICKETS HERE (thewondershow.eventbrite.com)

As the photographs are projected with an authentic 19th magic lantern , local artists and residents – ranging in ages from 10 to 80 — will perform stories and live music inspired by the images. Performers participating in the magic lantern show include: Laura Brown-Lavoie, Cyrus Leddy, Matthew Lawrence, Mary Wilson, Faye Thompson, Linda FitzGerald, Michael Turner, Leigh Waldron-Taylor, Selma Fischman, Wanda Rickerby, Bunny Bronson, Liza Cochran, and Walker Mettling.

An accompanying historical walking tour, organized by the Rhode Island Historical Society and inspired by the images in the performance, will take place on Saturday, May 19th in downtown Providence.  The tour is free to the public; to participate RSVP to Barbara Barnes by emailing bbarnes@rihs.org or calling 401-273-7507, ext. 62.  The one-hour tour will leave at 6 p.m. from Market House – at the intersection of College and South Main Streets (directly across from the Rhode Island School of Design Museum) – and end at 95 Empire Street.

This afternoon we held the inaugural “City in Pieces” writing workshop series at the Providence Public Library, where we all sat grandly at the long, glossy Trustees’ table among the portraits of the city’s prominent men. The Library’s Renaissance-inspired architecture was the perfect backdrop to set our imaginations to work. As a warm-up exercise, we wrote collaborative pieces based on objects in an exquisite corpse style. The following example was written by three people about a small change purse. Oh, the possibilities!

My grandmother kept a change purse — a small pillow of coins — in the top desk drawer. This was not to pay the milkman or the newsboy. This was to woo her grandchildren: penny candy, sherbert, pop.

Most of the wooing happened while we were squirming around in the pews of Grace Church. We squirmed a lot more knowing the old leather purse was within our grandmother’s reach. Mama always reminded Grandmom not to indulge us. Blackmail was how she saw it.

“They need to learn discipline. They need to learn the virtue of patience,” Mama would say.

We learned about patience in bible school. We just didn’t have any.

And so our relationship with our grandmother played out as usual — if we squirmed or whined or pleased we would get — the each of us — a shiny round dime which would spend at the penny candy store down from Grace Church. Of course, that’s when our patience kicked in — when it came to thinking and rationalizing all the ways to spend a dime. If only we had that same patience for all the ways to be good.

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We then mined a selection of old books and 19th century newspaper articles to craft stories about the Library’s collection of glass slides. How could we bring together the photographs and texts through narrative? We looked for places, people, objects, or concepts that might be associated with the unknown context of the glass slides. This was not purely a historical search (in fact, it would likely have taken us much longer than 20 minutes to find anything directly related to the photos!) but was a chance to creatively interpret the life depicted in the photographs — a chance to animate an unknown past.

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Writers peruse copies of the glass slide photographs.