Vaudeville’s Transfigurators


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.

Robert Fulgora at left, 1911

Robert Fulgora at left, 1911

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? 


Published in: on March 9, 2013 at 9:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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