I’ve been presenting magic lantern shows on a professional basis for well over thirty years. The publicity photo above was taken ‘some’ years ago. Now, in 2020, I look like this!
What do I do? I use a Victorian showman’s slide projector (see above) that dates from about 1880 and was used in lecture halls, so can throw a pin sharp image about twenty feet from a screen and produce an image that is eight feet square or larger. The slides that I use are made of glass and are between 90 and 150 years old. I travel the Country, performing in theatres, museums, village halls, clubs, stately homes, festivals …. anywhere that will have me really, just like magic lanternists did over one hundred years ago! It’s a very strange way to make a living but so much fun.
The content of my ‘magic lantern experience’ shows (see Shows and Talks page) includes stories, illustrated songs, social history photographic slides, audience participation, surprises and so much laughter. Why do I do it? Well, how many antique collectors can not only share their collection with others but spread joy and happiness in doing so? At a recent show in a Yorkshire village hall, the audience were on board from the first slide and, when I finished, they didn’t just cheer but roared with delight. I felt truly humbled that my efforts to bring the lost art of Victorian slide projection to life can produce such a response.
There are currently just three or four people in the UK who present shows on a professional basis but there are encouraging signs of young blood taking up the baton and, surprisingly perhaps, the Magic Lantern Society has an increasing number of (relatively) young members. If you’re reading this in 2050, you might still be able to book a magic lantern show …. but not from me!
If you’re a festival organiser, club programme secretary, theatre / museum events manager or would like the most unusual after-dinner speaker ever or even a private soiree for friends, get in touch.
If you found this interesting, please share it with your family and friends. If you’re not reading it on my ‘Magic Lantern World‘ website, then please visit. There are over one hundred illustrated articles about Victorian slide projection and links to my historical photo-booklets on Amazon, my Ebay shop for magic lantern slides and Etsy store for historical photo greetings cards with a twist. You can read about my authentic Victorian magic lantern shows and talks on ‘Optical entertainments before the movies’ and lots more!