Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Air Ship: A Musical Farce Comedy (1898)

The 1960's TV show The Jetsons taught an entire generation what to expect of the future. Using comedy to create fanciful expectations of the future is not an idea exclusive to the twentieth century. The posters above advertise The Air Ship: A Musical Farce Comedy from 1898.

Below is an article which appeared in the January 18, 1899 Fort Wayne News (Fort Wayne, Indiana) along with illustrations from a January 16, 1899 Fort Wayne Gazette article.

"The Air Ship," a new and original spectacular musical farce comedy, written by J.M. Gaites, possesses some novel and realistic scenic features, and it will probably draw a big audience at the Masonic Temple ton-night. One of the most realistic stage scenes ever presented will be the flight of a real air ship with fifteen passengers on a Klondike expedition, and a view of Dawson City in winter. While the author does not claim a plot, "The Air Ship" has a central idea or theme, with which it is infested by amusing dialogue, new songs, dances and specialties. Careful attention will be given to staging "The Air Ship," and the company of artists engaged will give a lively presentation of the farce. The principal members are Marie Stuart, the clever vaudeville artiste; Lattie Burke, Marlaud Tyson, Raymond Finley, Ben Welsh, James T. Kelly, Max Millian and Shields, and Nana Bancom. The management of the company announce that the scenic features and the performance of the piece will be both new, novel and worthy of cordial support.

There are many places online to buy posters like those shown below but I would recommend downloading the Library of Congress files here and here and bringing them to your favorite photo-printing establishment that can handle poster-sized prints.

See also:
Going to the Opera in the Year 2000 (1882)
Futuristic Air Travel (circa 1900)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)


Kedamono said...

My question is whether the musical itself survived or not. Do you know of any copies, online or physical that might be available for "The Air Ship: A Musical Farce Comedy?"

I could see it being updated for the modern era with Boeing or Airbus. Heck, just keeping it in the period would be fine too!

artbot said...

I really need one of those ass-kicking machines...

coriolan said...

This musical may have been prompted by widespread reports of a mysterious airship seen flying over California in Nov-Dec 1896 and throughout the Midwest in April 1897. It was something of a percursor to the UFO sightings of the postwar era, although most of those who saw the airship assumed it was the creation of a human inventor rather than an extra-terrestrial craft.

Some 1897 reports from Michigan can be found here: