Performance, exhibit and walking tour will explore Providence’s rich historical heritage
PROVIDENCE – The Wonder Show is pleased to offer two unique magic lantern performances exploring Providence’s rich historical heritage on May 18 and 19 at 7:00 PM at 95 Empire Street (formerly Perishable Theater). The Providence Public Library’s Special Collections Department has preserved thousands of photographs documenting life in Providence at the turn of the century. These snapshots – many of which have never been seen before – offer a glimpse into the city’s history both familiar and strange. Now the general public will be able to experience these photographs through a form of popular entertainment distinct to the time of their creation: The Magic Lantern Show.

The Wonder Show will project these photographs using an authentic magic lantern: an early slide projector that educated and entertained audiences before the beginning of cinema. As the photographs are projected, local artists and residents - ranging in ages from 10 to 80 - will perform stories and live music inspired by the images.

An accompanying historical walking tour, organized by the Rhode Island Historical Society and inspired by the images in the performance, will take place on Saturday, May 19th in downtown Providence. The tour is free to the public; to participate RSVP to Barbara Barnes by emailing or calling 401-273-7507, ext. 62. The one-hour tour will leave at 6 p.m. from Market House - at the intersection of College and South Main Streets (directly across from the Rhode Island School of Design Museum) - and end at 95 Empire Street.


In addition to this exciting multimedia performance, the public is invited to the exhibit “Sympathetic Magic” at Providence Public Library (150 Empire Street) featuring optical technologies, rare books and ephemera, and documentation of the Wonder Show’s creative process. The exhibit will be on view until the end of May during the Library’s operating hours.

According to Wonder Show organizers Carolyn Gennari and Anya Ventura, “The origin and meaning of many of these photographs remains unknown, it has been a community process to bring these images to life. Through a series of creative writing workshops held at the library, residents of Providence have imagined possible scenarios for these photographs as a way of reconnecting with the past.”

Performers participating in the magic lantern show include: Laura Brown-Lavoie, Cyrus Leddy, Matthew Lawrence, Mary Wilson, Faye Thompson, Linda FitzPatrick, Michael Turner, Leigh Waldron-Taylor, Selma Fischman, Wanda Rickerby, Bunny Bronson, Liza Cochran, and Walker Mettling.

For more information on the performances, contact or visit Tickets for the show are free and are available online at

To learn more about the Providence Public Library and its hours of operation, please visit

The Wonder Show is supported by the Rhode Island Council of the Humanities, Providence Provision, and the Creative Arts Council at Brown University.

About The Wonder Show
The Wonder Show presents local stories through the early magic lantern shows that once entertained and educated audiences before the beginning of cinema. The magic lantern is a vehicle to promote the creative interpretation of historical materials for people of all ages and backgrounds.

About Providence Public Library Special Collections
The Providence Public Library Special Collections Department is comprised of several distinct collections of over 40,000 books, manuscripts, pamphlets, ephemera, newspapers, maps, broadsides, art, and artifacts, representing over four thousand years of human history and culture.

About Rhode Island Historical Society
The Rhode Island Historical Society, founded in 1822, is the fourth oldest state historical society in the United States. It is a private organization, founded and supported by its membership and dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing Rhode Island's history.