Monday, October 03, 2011

Leslie Anne Lewis: The Corrick Collection 2011 (the fifth installment) (the GCM introduction)

GCM Catalogue: "“The Marvellous Corrick Family of Entertainers … furnish a unique illustration of heredity and consanguinity, being singularly and collectively specially gifted with the same artistic abilities, distinctly superior to any similar organization; their bill of fare surpasses anything hitherto submitted for the approval of the great amusementloving publica.” (Melbourne Punch, 1902)."

"With the exception of a two-year international tour that took the Corricks, a family of “Vocalists, Instrumentalists, Bellringers, National Dancers, Humorists and Biographic Artists” from Australia to England via the South Pacific, Asia, and Europe, the life of a touring vaudevillestyle company could be rather mundane and repetitive – a fact attested to in correspondence found in the Corrick Collection of films and related materials held at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia and the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston, Tasmania. The family’s routine generally followed the same pattern for months on end: arriving in town with all of the equipment needed for their 2-3 hour show, they would unload and set up for their performance, play that night and for the next few nights, then pack up and move on to the next town – a process repeated almost without break from 1901-1914, sometimes as often as five times a week. In a 1906 letter to a friend, son Leonard (the family projectionist) describes this selfcontained troupe’s elaborate set-up:"

"“We have all got today off, a treat we very seldom get, as since we got our electric light plant things have been pretty busy what with filing and screwing, altering one thing and another, going Sunday as well as the rest of the week. Everywhere we go now we light the stage with 40 thirty-two candle power incandescent lamps, and we hang two big arc lamps (5000 CA. P.) on the front of the hall on the flagpole or… the highest place I can get to fix them, and in the country the people nearly go mad with excitement, they come riding into the town thinking the place is on fire. Some men the other night saw the glare from seven miles out of town, and came riding in to see what was the matter, and of course did not go back again until they had had a good ‘bobs’ worth at the ‘Corricks’, … We show the pictures by electric light too, and show a thirty foot picture where it’s possible. We have a man now who … looks after it while working at night, so that I only have to lay the wires on in the hall, fix up the lamps, Biograph and the engine too when it goes bung, which is not very often (thank goodness).” Though considered to be of “great educational value,” the constant travel was nonetheless difficult for the family. While most of the children were older and could handle the strain of touring, for the first several years the family was forced to split up, leaving the youngest girls Elsie and Jessie (ages 8 and 10) at home in New Zealand. In the same 1906 letter, Leonard writes: “We had Elsie & Jessie over from Wellington for three months travelling all through Victoria with us, and you may be sure we all had a great old time. They got back about three weeks ago, and of course [there was] a bit of a crying match when they left…[but] Dad bought them two nice bicycles when they left, now they are cutting a great dash riding to school.”"

"This fifth installment in the Corrick Collection series reflects the wide variety of films featured in the Corricks’ original programmes. Highlights include the 1906 Olympic Games in Athens, the last of Charles Urban’s 1907 series depicting the Portsmouth Naval Exercises, R.W. Paul’s trick film The Fakir and the Footpads, a steeplechase at Auteuil, tobogganing at St. Moritz, and a very determined woman wielding a very large knife."

"All of the Pathé films this year date from 1905-1906 and were likely acquired in a batch from a source in Australia – many of the titles start to appear in Corrick advertisements and reviews around the same time. While many of the collection’s films are complete or close to it, some now exist only as fragments. Although a few of these short pieces have yet to be identified, they still provide valuable information regarding the wide range of films the family included in their programs. Four unidentified fragments are included in this year’s programs; any information from the Giornate audience helping to identify these fragments would be much appreciated." – LESLIE ANNE LEWIS

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