TRANSFORMATION | | Quick-Change Transformation
The illusion of costume change is based on the presumption of the audience
that the artist gets rid of one set of clothes in order to put on another set
in a second. The artist merely holds up a new costume to himself and seconds
later has dressed in it. Women not only become jealous, but the men also?
Seen like this, Quick Change is for many a dream come true.
The art of Quick Change is several hundred years old and reaches back as far as the 15th
century. The Japanese kabuki theater started
with crude performances by a shrine dancer Okuni in the year 1603, although
the use of Quick Change was most probably not added until after 1629 when
women were banned from performing kabuki.
The old Fregoli style
1880 - 1897: Fregoli was the greatest quick-change artist of his day.
He was famous for his extraordinary ability in impersonations and his quickness
in exchanging roles- so much so that while he was performing in London in the 1890s
unkind rumours spread that there was more than one Fregoli. - read more about him in
True? Fregoli made the costume and hairpiece changes out of view of the audience
in three seconds with the help of several assistants. The most difficult aspect of his
performance and style was the synchronization of gesture and voice. The rumors of Fregoli
-the quickest Costumechanger- are rumors*. In fact, a similary dressed assistant had taken
his place so that Fregoli could change costumes. He was very popular like Houdini -
he is the forefather of Quick Change
(but not the first). *Quote: "Meta-Morphing" by Vivian Sobchack
1909 - 1916: Mlle. Fregolia appears to be the first
popular woman to perform Quick Change with prepared costumes ( Fatima
Miris was considered the most important at the time, but Mlle. Fregolia, of
French origin far outshone her performances). In a short two part act totaling
fifteen minutes, Mlle. Fregolia played the part of fifteen characters (men and
women) with an incredible forty costume changes. The exact number of
characters varies from different reports 12 characters and forty costumes, to
20 characters with 100 costumes! This is most probably due to the fact that at
every curtain call she also would change costume everything right up to the
stockings! Mlle. was also considered a great actress during these playlettes
“The Lightning Waiter“ and “Husband's Return“. Skeptics were unable to
believe that only one woman was playing all the parts, and so a reward of
$1,000 dollars was offered to anyone who could prove otherwise. In 1916 Mlle.
Fregolia also appeared in two short silent films made in Germany “Was ein
Weib vermag“ - “As well as a broad is able“ and “Fregolia“. Copies of bill
boards and newspaper reports helped us with this research.
Quick Change was very popular in the 20th
century right up until the twenties. After the outbreak of cinema this art fell silent.
Read more in the fantastic book from Vivian Sobchack – „Meta-Morphing“. Quick Change was
sporadically performed by magicians; in Japanese Kabuki heatre it continued to be performed
unseen by our Western world.
The Russian style
Many Russian artists brought Quick Change back to the circus in the middle of last century.
It was very popular but the quality of costumes are not very high.
Originally this kinds of acts was startet by the Russian couple Sudarchikovi ant at that
time a really sensation. The couple changes at first russian artists a high fashion collection.
Pictured in the right side: Liubov and Anatoli Sudarchikovi
(special thank for photo to Bolshoi Circus) Their first TV appearance was 1988. In 1995 they won the
silver clown in Monaco.
The original Sudarchikovi Act starts 1969:
He was dressed in black tailcoat, she is in a long gown.
She goes in a tube and changes
in one second to a cha-cha-cha-dress. Then she performs a few glove color changes.
She steps into a screen from the right side to the left and now has on a latin dress.
After this follows a costume change in a fringed hulahoop. In a sub trunk illusion he
changes his dress to a white tailcoat. She changes her dress twice in a cape of silk to a
black and then to a red dress. Finally she changes her red dress in silver confetti
to a white bridal gown.
Another Dynasty is Monastyrsky. Tatjana is third generation
to perform her art of quick-change. Her transformation with an umbrella was created
by her grandfather Vladimir Monastyrsky in 1963. The very first time it was shown
in the circus, with her partner Angelina Monastyrskaya.
Today the transformation has become an art of entertainment in its own right.
Several artistes have created their own performances to show this fascinating art
of Quick Change. Many of them are unique and have completely different performance
styles and effects (including the covers used during the changes).
A complete Quick Change act is one of the most expensive and most impressive illusion
effects that there is. There is a great difference between performing
a single or a couple of Quick Changes in his program, than a complete Quick Change act.
The actors have to live for a complete Quick Change act. If a Quick Change needs weeks sometimes even months for the development of a single
prepared item of clothing, how long does one need then for a complete Quick Change act?
In the "supreme discipline" that lies in the multiple costume change, which without a
doubt the many Russian artists dominate, lies the inherited experience of generations.
The revival of Fregoli style
The Italian Arturo Brachetti made Quick Change popular once again.
He is is one of the more classic followers of Fregoli's style. His extensive career covers
a wide artistic range of versatilty, acting, magic, chapeaugraphy and shadowgraphy.
His professional career began in 1978 in France at the parisian cabaret, Paradis Latin.
With his one-man-show "The Man With a Thousand Faces" which featured more than 80
transformations, he won the Moliere Award in Paris (equivalent to the Broadway Tony Award)
and then the Olivier Award in Canada. After 700 sold-out performances in Paris the show went
on a world tour. In Christmas 2004 he was invited to perform in the Palais de L'Elisée in
Paris in the presence of President Chirac and his 600 guests. In the Guinness Book of
Records 2006 Brachetti is described the fastest quick change artist in the world.
In 2006 Brachetti's show reached the proportion of a big musical production with over
1000 performances completed and in excess of 1.000.000 million tickets sold worldwide.
The magic style
In the nineties last century
some magicians spiced up their acts with a costume change. In a boom of "price winning magic
acts" in some magic competitions the single Quick Change worldwide has been
changed to a magic trick. The Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques -FISM™- the
world's leading magic societies consists of over 60 clubs, both national and
international, as well as national Federations which represent nearly 50 000
Magicians from 32 countries. At the FISM World Championships more than 100
of the best magicians have been competing every third year since 1948.
At the last FISM 2006 two dozen magicians performed costume changes
as a magic trick.
What is a Quick-Change Artist?
Of course - Quick-Change is pure magic! But the history of Quick Change does
not have magic roots. Is every Quick Change performer now a magician?
Is every Magician now a Quick-Change artist?
The Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques -FISM™- cut magic in the following categories:
| General Magic
| Parlour Magic
| Stage Illusions
| Comedy Magic
| Card Magic
| Micro Magic
| Mental Magic
Is a Quick-Change artist an Illusionist? The art of
Quick Change reaches back as far as the 15th century.
The art itself is in fact older however than many branches of magic.
The art of Quick-Change can be divided into three categories:
The old Fregoli style - the art of changing the character + sex (metamorphoses)
The Russian style - the art of changing clothes (ie. dressing
The magic style - the art of changing the color of a magician's dress
The art of Transformation has three categories
The Quick-Change - the art of changing the costume or/and character
The Chapeaugraphy - the art of changing character with a single hat
The Shadowgraphy - the art of forming shilouettes with hands on a blank screen
Another famous Quick change artist is the Venetian Ennio Marchetto, who has created his own
style of quick changes and impersonations. All his costumes, wigs and props are bi-dimensional
and made out of cardboard and paper. His costumes transform in front of your eyes like origami
folding. Also called The Living Cartoon, Ennio enjoys a world wide success since his first
appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1989.