magic lantern showLovers swing over the city on bell clappers, defend an Indian princess from the ghosts of Famine and Fever, battle rampaging billy goats, turn marble statues to living flesh, rescue Maidens-Fair from the Fearsome Fire, and send “Vinegar Valentines” to the people they hate.

It’s all from an age before television and movies, when the Victorians mixed boisterous fun and touching pathos in their Valentine’s entertainment. Now The American Magic-Lantern Theater has recreated a gay nineties “Victorian Valentine Show” that captures the wonder and hilarity of the period. The SDSU Library is presenting two performances—one at 10 a.m. and the other at 7 p.m.—on February 14 to celebrate both Valentine’s Day and the library’s magic lantern exhibit, “Sources of Wonder: The Homer and Betty Peabody Magic Lantern Collection.” The performances, which are appropriate for adults and children 6 and above, will be held in Room LL108, and admission is free.

The show uses an antique “magic-lantern”—the multimedia projector of 100 years ago. The lantern rapidly projects spectacular color slides on a movie screen. The slides, many of them animated, illustrate Victorian Valentine stories, songs, and comedy. They’re dramatized by a costumed showman, singers, musicians, and by the audience, which provides the sound effects, claps, stomps, and joins in chants and sing-alongs.

For more information, email rniederj@mail.sdsu.edu.

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