Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rambling Onto The Stage

Over the last couple of weeks I have been illustrating the sport of Internet Rambling - fecklessly wandering from one website to another driven only by curiosity and a desire to waste time in the most entertaining way possible. The last installment saw me finish up on the stage of Ford's Theatre, Washington back in April 1865. The rules of Internet Rambling state that you can go off at a tangent at any time : indeed tangential thinking is encouraged. So I stick with the stage (which is useful as it is Theme Thursday and this week the theme is "Stage") and I jump to the stage of the Rusholme Pavillion in Manchester, England, in June 1931.
"The Stage" is the weekly trade newspaper of the British entertainment and performing arts industry. Established in 1880, the Stage has chronicled the changing tastes and mores of the entertainment industry for more than 120 years, and its' archives - of over 6,500 issues and 170,000+ pages - are available on-line and provide a treasure trove of material. The one problem is - like all good shows - you have to pay to get in. I normally shun pay sites - there is enough free material out there to keep the most enthusiastic Internet Rambler occupied - but I made an exception with The Stage as I was searching for material on my Uncle Harry.
Uncle Harry was the black sheep of our family. He got drunk, died his hair, wore built-up shoes and played the piano at Working Men's Clubs. In his younger days he had run away from a respectable working-class home in Bradford and joined a Pierrot troupe which performed in second-rate English theatres and seaside holiday resorts. I did have a copy of a playbill featuring the troupe (the Silhouettes) but I was anxious to find out whether their performances had ever been mentioned in The Stage. So I paid the £5 fee which let me into the archives and went in search of the legacy of Uncle Harry.
I eventually struck gold with the issue of the 4th June 1931. There, on page 13, was a short review of a performance by the Silhouettes at the Rusholme Pavilion. Finding the sentence : "and Harry Moore adds to the musical side as an efficient accompanist, but with a sweet tenor voice", was like locating the Holy Grail and put a skip in my step as I rambled through The Stage archives. You could spend a week doing nothing more than browsing through reviews of everything from performing dogs to the early concerts of the Beatles. But the rules of Rambling require that you can't stay in one place for too long. So, leaving The Stage behind, I set out in search of new cyber backwaters, ready to dip my toes in the brackish waters of on-line trivia.

13 comments:

  1. Hmmmm, I like this bit of history but not as much as I like the use of the word tangential!
    Happy TT to you!

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  2. He 'died' his hair? I hesitate to wonder how this was accomplished...

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  3. Interesting post. Thanks for sharing "the stage" with us lol

    Happy TT
    xoxo

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  4. 5 pounds well spent, I'd say.

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  5. welcome to theme thursday. nice word play. thanks for taking us on the trip.

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  6. So, Alan, did you inherit Uncle Harry's sweet tenor voice?

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  7. Thanks for the comments and the welcome to TT. Sad to say, Willow, that I didn't inherit the voice. I did, however, inherit his burial plot ... but that's another story.

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  8. Alan, well worth the 5 quid, I'd say! Nice of you to share a bit of your family history :)

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  9. Quite an interesting post!

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  10. What a thrill to see Uncle Harry's name in print. Really great take on the theme for today. The name Harry has a soft spot in my heart. We named one of our boys Harry, after his great grandfather. :)

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  11. Interesting bit of family history indeed. The aunts & uncles who live as renegades are always inspiring I think.

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  12. Nice take. I wish I had the time to immerse myself in trivia let alone find out where I came from. Perhaps it will rain this weekend and I'll have the excuse. (Haha your capture is 'readem' . .now if that's not encouragement, I don't know what is!)

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  13. Excellent story! Reminds me of several years ago, when a search of microfilmed newspaper entries yielded a front-page story of over 60 years' vintage, telling how my father's uncle died hours after being smacked on the head with a policeman's nightstick.

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