Ohm [email protected] Cassidy Theatre, Chicago, March 7th

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    Magical Enchantments & Wondrous Sounds

    Tuesday March 7 – Chicago Cultural Center
    Ohm Presents: Curator Visual & Music Series
    Claudia Cassidy Theatre – 7pm FREE!
    Guest Curator: Joseph Bryl
    Guest musicians: Marc Hellner & Chanel Pease

    Guest visual artist: Eric Gelehrter aka Merkaba

    For Immediate Release:

    Cinema, from its earliest days presented a myriad collection of enchantments and magical effects that drew from fairy tales and ghostly yarns to children’s bedside stories and folk legends. Magic lantern shows, the precursor to the movies, both shocked and mystified its spectators with floating apparitions and out-worldly visitations while turn of the century theatre, fairground booths and vaudeville incorporated film within its daily offerings.

    Guest curator Joseph Bryl of Sonotheque has selected 3 rarely seen magical moments from the origin of the fantasy feature in America for the Cultural Center’s “Ohm Presents” series on Tuesday March 7. Collaborating with musicians Chanel Pease (acoustic harp & keyboards) and Marc Hellner (electronics & laptop) plus video specialist Eric Gelehrter aka Merkaba, Joseph Bryl hopes to re-awaken those forgotten times when music formed an essential part of the film experience. As the program notes for “More Treasures From the American Film Archives : 1894-1931 states…

    “ … music mattered, both commercially and aesthetically, to exhibitors and audiences. It was prized for its ability to bring discerning moviegoers into theaters, to drive home meanings and clarify film structures, to maximize climaxes and minimize noisy distractions outside the theatre – in short, to bring the ghostly, mute images to life.”

    “Musical Enchantments & Wondrous Sounds” will present 3 films; “The “Teddy” Bears” (1907), “The Wonderful World of Oz” (1910) and “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” (1914). All music will be played live yet specially composed for the event by both Pease and Hellner. The films will be presented chronologically with the theatre space being used in a 3 dimensional forum to heighten the experience.
    We hope to awaken in the modern day and often jaded viewer that childlike sense of wonder that both charmed and amused those early spectators in what is still the magic of the movies.

    The following is a brief description of each film and the participants involved.

    The “Teddy” Bears (1907):
    Production Co. – Edison Mfg. Co.
    Producer/Director – Wallace McCutcheon & Edwin S. Porter
    Photographer – Edwin S. Porter
    Running time – 13 minutes
    Part fairy tale, part political satire and part accomplished puppet animation The “Teddy” Bears mixed the English fairy tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” with a retelling of President Teddy Roosevelt’s gallant refusal to shoot a small wounded bear during a 1902 hunting trip in Mississippi. The film incorporates an amusing frame-by-frame animation shot that according to Moving Picture World took Edwin S. Porter a full week of 8 hour days to film. After it’s theatrical run the film was shown in a New York department store as a merchandising tie-in to further sales of the very popular “Teddy” bear craze.

    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910):
    Production Co. – Selig Polyscope Co.
    Director: Otis Turner
    Running time: 13 minutes
    With the immense popularity of both the Wizard of Oz books and its various theatrical manifestations it was only natural for L. Frank Baum to look toward film as another empire to conquer. Baum hired Selig Polyscope, a pioneer motion picture company based here in Chicago in 1908 to film snippets from the Oz novels for his lecture show Fairylogue and Radio-Plays. This is the first surviving film from Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series filled with characters and incidents that are still familiar to most thanks to the 1939 musical. In this version Dorothy is played by a 9 year old Bebe Daniels who later on went on to playing Harold Lloyd’s partner, dramatic lead for Paramount and Cecile B. De Mille and prima donna in “42nd Street“.

    The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914):
    Production Co. – Oz Film Manufacturing Co.
    Director: J. Farrell MacDonald
    Running time: 67 minutes
    Produced by L. Frank Baum on his newly equipped seven-acre studio on Santa Monica Blvd. In Los Angeles The Patchwork Girl of Oz was an early American excursion into feature film length. Previously, most films rarely went beyond one or two reels. Normally only sources deemed “high” art and those of epic-form where considered worthy of extended spectatorship. Based on Baum’s 1913 novel of the same name the film features a 17 year old Frenchman, Pierre Couderc, as the Patchwork Girl and a young Hal Roach, future comic-film producer, as the Cowardly Lion. The Oz film Manufacturing Company suspended business in 1915 after making just 4 films.

    Chanel Pease:
    Chanel Pease is a classically trained musician who studied with an emphasis in piano and harp composition and composes music using both a minimalist and classical approach. Chanel uses acoustic and electronic instruments and manipulates the sounds through various effects to create an ethereal backdrop to her instrumental melodies. Her work has involved a broad spectrum of sounds and mediums including playing keyboards in many bands and composing with Chicago based electronic musicians. Chanel is currently recording her solo album.

    Marc Hellner:
    Marc Hellner’s name may be familiar as one half of revered Chicagoan audio-visual artists Pulseprogramming, or as a touring member of Windy City regulars L’Altra. A prolific musician with a latent fondness for ‘real’ instruments to match the dexterous digital manipulations of his regular combo, Hellner, by his own admission, “writes too much music for just one project”. Marriages – ironically given the title – is effectively Hellner’s debut solo long player; an outlet for the aforementioned compositional overload but also a thoroughly focused collection that consistently errs toward intimate beauty

    Eric Gelehrter aka Merkaba:
    Eric Gelehrter is the primary designer and performer for Merkaba Visuals Chicago. Since 2000, Merkaba has been evolving their unique style of live performance visuals. Merkaba shows span a range from nightlife venues like Soundbar and Sonotheque to fine arts gallery contexts like the MCA and GenArts events. In 2005 Eric became an associate with theatre collective Collaboraction and has been fortunate to assist them with shows like the epic Carnaval at the Congress Theater, their Sketchbook short play Festival, and their Jeff recommended production of Guinea Pig Solo at the Chopin

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