Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment

Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment

  • Tag Archives medicine show
  • Near and Far – Nappanee, Indiana and the Medicine Show …

    From The Director …

    A note from Gery L. Deer.

    August 5, 2013

    I’ve worked all over the country as a whip artist, writer and performer. From small hometown stages to Hollywood television projects, I think I’ve seen just about everything. This past weekend, however, I had the privilege of working with a gentleman who, in my mind, is the quintessential entertainment professional. His name is Dan Barth and for the last 40-plus years, he’s been in the medicine show business.

    Dan Barth's Medicine Show

    Dan Barth’s Medicine Show

    Dan and his wife, Ulli, have traveled all around the country with his turn-of-the-century medicine show wagon and stage, telling the history of the craft and entertaining crowds with the same kinds of routines used in the original shows. From ventriloquism to magic, I sat and watched nearly every show he did over our four days together and marveled at how his audience was so taken with his work.

    In today’s high-paced world of technology and squirrel-like attention spans, I was fascinated to watch people of all ages sit in the hot, Indiana sun and hang on Dan’s every motion and word. It was gratifying to see that people still have an interest in this kind of entertainment; a type that now seems relegated to the odd variety act or child’s birthday party and even then, thoroughly under-appreciated.

    Not this weekend however. People loved watching Dan’s performance, myself included. Ironically, I felt good about the fact that in The Brothers & Co. Variety Show, we are using some of the same routines he includes in his show on a regular basis. Now I think I finally understand why they are always so well-received.

    Gery L. Deer and Dan Barth - August 3, 2013.

    Gery L. Deer (left) and Dan Barth – August 3, 2013.

    But from a whip artist’s standpoint, Dan’s presentation and his audience’s reaction to it allowed me to see more about my own show than I have ever noticed before. As performers, if our mind is in the right place, we work hard to entertain the audience. I have always believed that most skilled performers spend far too much time showing off their respective talents and too little actually entertaining anyone but themselves.

    Dan’s mind is always on the audience. His number one consideration is what will make them smile, laugh, ooh and ahh, all while carrying away a little history they may not have known about before. He may be in it to make a living, but he really wants his audience to have experienced something unique for their time and he genuinely appreciates their attention.

    Personally, I’ve seen just about every possible incarnation of sideshow, Wild West performance, medicine show and variety act. But there was something unique about Dan Barth’s performance. It was unassuming, generous and genuine. It had my attention every time, even though, by the end of the first day, I could practically recite his script verbatim.

    With a little history and a lot of charm, Dan Barth brings to life the 400-year-old linking rings to a whole new generation.

    With a little history and a lot of charm, Dan Barth brings to life the 400-year-old linking rings to a whole new generation.

    With a 25 minute show, Dan Barth’s Medicine Show captivated the audience with no more than four or five routines. But, in the end, it’s not what you do on stage, but how you do it. No matter how great your technical skill, there is always room to make your show more engaging to an audience. A whip trick is over in less than a blink of an eye, but if you package it properly, it will be memorable for a lifetime.


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