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Collectors' Workshop "Carnival Countdown"

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Sometimes we simply have to let it all hang out. At times like this, it's essential (for creative purposes) that hilarity be allowed to rule the day, that unrestrained silliness be permitted to assume unparalleled prominence. So, in a moment of unchecked glee, CW created Carnival Countdown. Here's the scene. On stage is a six foot high replica of one of the old carnival strength testers, complete with big red bell on top and plenty of flashing lights running up and down the side. The apparatus is turned on and off by a large handle on the side. Spectator's watch is borrowed and placed in a small bag that is hung directly under the bell. As the handle is moved to "on", the watch in the bag starts to moveslowly downward toward a bowl of "undiluted sulphuric acid" placed in a dish at the bottom of the apparatus. Spectator handcuffs the performer, with the understanding that the performer will escape and rescue the watch long before a tragic (and somewhat sodden) conclusion. Performer's cuffed hands are secured beneath a handkerchief. As the watch descends, lights alongside the unit keep track of its progress. Performer begins with a cocky smile that soon enough turns to a chagrined grimace as he struggles, apparently unsuccessfully, to escape the cuffs. Now the watch is coming dangerously close to the acid and, in an effort to avoid disaster, the performer instructs the spectator to pull the handle and so to shut the unit off. Spectator does so, but the handle comes off in her hand and the watch continues to descend. At the same time, the eight inch bell atop the unit begins to sound a clarion emergency call and the high intensity lights begin to race wildly up and down the unit. Panicked now, the performer is able to wrest one hand free and remove the acid dish. The clanging stops, the lights are extinguished, and the watch settles slowly and comfortably down to the platform at the base of the unit. Somewhat abashed, but relieved, the performer begins what promises to be a hopelessly weak-kneed explanation. And just as he does, the large five pound bell drops from the top of the stand, falling fully to the platform with a large clang, completely crushing the watch in the bag with an accompanying burst of smoke and the glitter of fragmented glass and metal parts. Performer is understandably chagrined. "Don't you hate it when that happens?" he inquires. But in a mercifully short moment thereafter, the cloth drops from his other hand to reveal (1) the handcuffs hanging free from his hand and (2) the watch hanging from the lower cuff.

The concept, if you love a bit of farce and burlesque, is a gem. But the prop is no less a treasure. Carnival Countdown is finished in a jet black and brass motif, accented with the striking red bell.

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