does modern society look to for entertainment? Friends
coming together for food, drink, and a good time.
Costumed girls gracefully dancing across the stage.
A rock and roll band playing for an enthusiastic
audience. Acrobats flying through the air doing
stunts. A stand-up comedian taking the stage and
telling us jokes.
comes to us in many forms today – television,
circuses, theater, film, dance, music, meeting our
friends for a night out. However, it is rare that
a single event in a single venue incorporates more
than one or two types of entertainment at once.
that is exactly what the Moisture Festival does.
Not just one, not just two, but all of the forms
of entertainment appear in the same show. True to
the comedy/varieté from which it stems, the
Moisture Festival offers endless entertainment while
the audience enjoys food, drink and good company.
And, although it is a variety show, it is much,
much more than a few acts simply strung together.
Varieté has its roots in the Music Halls
of 17th century England, when the rise of industrialization
resulted in more time to devote to relaxation and
entertainment. During the 15th and 16th centuries,
people had always enjoyed fairs and festivals on
holidays. Like today, these festivals often included
performers exhibiting their various talents, and
proved a popular form of entertainment. When puritanical
Reformation values put a stop to formal theater
in the 17th century, people began to look for ways
around the restrictions. The solution? Informal
theater – a medley of acts centered around
music and including everything from bar songs to
magic tricks to acrobatics and more. Thus, Music
Halls were born.
Halls rapidly grew immensely popular. They were
a form of cheap entertainment in a venue where people
could eat, drink, and interact with the performers
and each other. Shows would often run from two in
the afternoon until two in the morning, giving people
the opportunity to come and go as they pleased.
Not only were Music Halls a desirable form of entertainment
in a life dominated by working long hours, but they
were also accessible to the working-class public
who could not normally afford such luxury as a night
out. Because it was affordable, workers would flock
to the Music Halls as soon as work got out, then
eat, drink and socialize until it was time to go
home to bed. The phenomenon spread throughout Europe,
taking the name varieté in Germany and Vaudeville
when it reached America. Subtle aspects of the show
changed from place to place, but the essence remained
the same. Music Halls appealed to the masses, and
that appeal still holds true today.
An interview with Ron Bailey, one of the original
producers of the Moisture Festival, lends some insight
into the values and philosophies behind the production.
For Bailey, one of the most important things about
the show is bringing people together for a good
time. It is important to him, and to everyone involved
in the show, that the audience realizes they can
relax, interact with the performers and each other,
and voice their reactions. In short, they can breach
all the etiquette that applies to the typical theater
audience. Bailey says that the audience is usually
unsure at first of their role in the show, but that
the MC and performers provoke the audience to respond,
and the atmosphere soon becomes one of revelry and
importance Bailey places on interaction does not
stop with the audience. He stresses that cooperation
between the performers is another element that greatly
influences the quality of the show. There is a fantastic
energy created when performers enter into friendly
competition, and the inspiration they give each
other truly comes out in their performance.
its inception, varieté has taken many forms
and has appealed to people throughout the ages.
The Moisture Festival continues this tradition,
offering an assortment of acts sure to appeal to
the fun-loving person that resides in us all. So
come prepared to relax, eat, drink and, most importantly,
“I love seeing people laugh together,”
says Bailey. “It’s one of the healthiest
things for a community to do.” And, truly,
laughter and togetherness is what varieté
is all about.