Emergency Medicine for Dummies


I did nine hours of walk-around/street performance vent at two different Christmas events this weekend. One of them was a very big corporate family event for a company who headquarters here in SA. The other was a multi-night Dickens fest. For the Dickens event I play Professor Pottersfield, a Victorian era ventriloquist with my partner Henry Little. I got this gig more because of the uniqueness of the Pottersfield character, a convincing cockney accent, Henry's classic look, and really good costuming for us both.. not so much because of my abilities as a vent or comedian (although I've been told I'm a favorite of many who attend). It's a great event, fun and good paying, and it is really helping me with my improvisational abilities and my voice projection (more an issue with Henry) because this event is 'authentic' (unamplified) It is also helping me to structure my street show.

Friday, first night of the Dickens event.. 5 minutes in, Henry is sitting beside me on my trunk, I'm playing the concertina. When one plays the concertina, both hands are sort of strapped to the instrument. I bump Henry or shift my weight or something and Henry loses his balance and goes face first onto the concrete. I couldn't catch him because my hands were occupied. My heart nearly stopped. I picked him up and noticed his face was mostly fine but his eyes had been knocked back into his head and were rattling around inside. I was horrified! I went over a couple of options in my mind very briefly.. go home and repair Henry ..no, too far. Try to perform without him.. no, not this gig, he's my main thing for this, the reason I was hired. Perform without his eyes.. no he looks terrifying that way. I immediately went to the man who owns the center and runs the event.  I explaining my predicament, asked him if he had a phillips screwdriver and some tape. He took me to the main building and found me these items, then directed me to a performers dressing room upstairs where I could work. I went up, removed Henry' s wig (double sided tape) opened him up and saw that the whole 'eye shelf' has dislodged. I taped the shelf and eyes back into place with the packing tape I had been loaned, used it also to reattach the wig, and was back out performing within about 20 minutes. Whew. The incident kind of threw me off and it wasn't my best night, but I pulled it off. After I went home I spent several hours repairing Henry properly, and he's better than new now. I replaced the tape with velcro on his wig, retouched his paint (glad I kept some from when I built him), and re-glued the eye shelf. I performed all day with him yesterday and he looks good and seems to be holding up fine, and it was a great day and evening of performing. I now carry a phillips screwdriver and some packing tape in Henry's trunk.


What could have been a catastrophe turned out better than ok.


After what happened, I no longer leave him sitting out while I do the first part of the act with the concertina.

David Pitts


Photograph courtesy of David Pitts


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