Betwixt Jest and Earnest

Michael Mangan in Performing Dark Arts: A cultural history of conjuring (2007) talks of the paraxial and the notion that 17th Century performance magic may have taken place within an imaginative space that was playful and creative, a space neither entirely real nor entirely unreal but ‘located somewhere indeterminately between the two.’ Mangan later draws from an interesting work by Thomas Browne Pseudodoxia or Vulgar Errors (1672) – from which I’ve borrowed the title of this post.

I think that this is a lovely way to look the ambiguity and possibilities of the form, and I’m particularly interested in the possibility of the playful and the creative that can be afforded in performance.  I’ve presented on this subject a couple of times this year, but it’s only recently that I’ve been thinking that a great way to experience a realm between jest and earnest would be to visit a real Cabinet of Curiosities…

If only you could …

Well now you can!

You just need to make your way to the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield on the 31st October and visit the Hallowe’en  Happening.  Amongst the many delights you will find Ashton Carter, my good self, and spirit of Reverend Tristan, bowing to the will of the eponymous Mr. Punch and exhibiting Mr Punch’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

Such wonders! 

All real! 

One night only!

Be there!

“Fortune-tellers, Juglers, Geomancers, and the like incantory Impostors, though commonly men of Inferiour rank, and from whom without Illumination they can expect no more than from themselves, do daily and professedly delude them. Unto whom (what is deplorable in Men and Christians) too many applying themselves; betwixt jest and earnest, betray the cause of Truth, and sensibly make up the legionary body of Error.”