I’m learning about transfigurators as a possible plot twist for my fourth book. Since I haven’t finished the third one yet, it’s not foremost in my mind, but I ran across some interesting information recently that I’d like to share.
Transfigurators were vaudeville performers who changed their appearance during the act. There were two types: proteans and quick-change artists. Quick-change artists just made quick changes with maybe a little patter in between. Proteans, however, worked an entire sketch themselves, playing all the parts by rapidly changing costumes very, very fast. The speed was the gimmick.
These were one-man or one-woman shows where the actor played eight or ten different characters. Some changed very, very fast–like Robert Fulgora, who left the stage wearing a woman’s outfit and reappeared five seconds later in full male evening attire. Fulgora was one of Houdini’s early partners. Another well-known protean made changes so fast that audiences believed he had a twin brother. (Maybe he did!)
Can you see some interesting plot ideas here?