Brunk, Henry and Mercedes 1978-03-22

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The Brunks discuss their lives as tent show performers and managers.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Henry and Mercedes Brunk

Additional Parties Recorded:

Date: March 22, 1978


Interviewer: Jerry Martin

Length: 3 hours, 50 minutes


Tape 1, Side 1: Henry Brunk [speaker], Trailer houses, On the Brunk show, Importance to traveling shows today, Seating, Incident involving seats, Seats fell due to rain, No one seriously hurt, Anecdote about Opera house burning down, Anecdote, law suit threatened over a play, Anecdote, various promotions used, Promotion involving President Johnson, Promotion for "Cheating Husbands", Toby plays, "Sputters" by Crowly, Brunk never used, "Gypsy Lover" by Schaffner, Mexican repertoire show, Description, Size, Merchants matinee, Explained

Tape 1, Side 2: Merchants matinee (continued), Displays in front of tent, Ermin Gray performer, Performed at churches in town, To build good will, Early days no sound system, Actors had to project their voices, First use of microphones, For specialty acts (early 1940s), For the stage (late 1940s), Incident involving Ed DeBinskey, Scenery, Slam doors, Different pieces, Changing scenery between acts, Tormentors, Entrance for vaudeville acts, Curtain, Street drop, Teaser, Lighting system, Dimmer, Made by a performer, Placement of lights

Tape 2, Side 1: Lights (continued), Criticism, Best judge of the show is the ticket box, Bill Bruno, Background, Bill Bruno's Bulletin, Circle-stock, Brunk's Company, Played opera houses and movie theaters, Profits, Shows done for service clubs, Create good will, Anecdote about shows done for service clubs, Opposition, Attempts to keep show out of town, Problems with license fees (1930s), Anecdotes about opposition, Format of the show

Tape 2, Side 2: Format of the show (continued), Orchestra, Candy sale, Anecdote about prizes, Problems with selling, Performers, Abilities, Bad performers on Brunk's show, Comparison of pre-War performers to post-War, performers, Gladstone Hotel, Kansas City, Meeting place for actors, Coach House, Clarence Balleras, Sold candy to shows, Personality, Knowledge, Transportation, Train, Incident that occurred on a train, Trunks, Camel back trunks considered bad luck, Hotel trunks, Anecdote about Harley Sadler, Cross-over, Use, Anecdote of theater played, Theater had no front curtain, Used lights

Tape 3, Side 1: Theater (continued), Airedomes, Described, Chautauquas, Put out of business by tent shows, Played town where lights went out, Show used lamps for light, Business better after this, Scripts, Cues, Cuts in plays, Timing, Setting up for a laugh, Use of partial scripts, Mercedes Brunk [speaker], Traveling in Kansas, Weather, Blizzard (1928-29), Other snow storm, Dressing room, Similar on tent shows, Description, Clothing, Girls generally furnished their own, Choosing clothes for a wardrobe, Different wardrobe for stage and street

Tape 3, Side 2: Sunday activities, Shopping in town, Built good will, Make-up, Furnished your own, Use of, Responsibilities on the show, Know your part for the show, Other responsibilities, Vaudeville numbers, Mercedes's act, Vaudeville performers did not generally act in the play, Audiences, Failure to understand some plays, Types of people, Different plays appeal to different types, Favorite roles and plays, "Cheating Husbands" described, Rehearsal, Time short, Location, Sets, Functional and looked nice, Taking down, Performers paid extra to help, Props, Propman

Tape 4, Side 1: Time required to move, Tent generally taken down Saturday night, Left Sunday for next town, Had fun on the show, Misses all the activity, Concession, Generally hired some one not on the show to handle, Being manager's wife, Had to be careful, Actors temperamental, Mercedes served as bookkeeper, Problems with government restrictions and taxes, Mercedes served as secretary, Handled all necessary correspondence, Henry Brunk [speaker], Press releases, How written, Tried to keep scripts clean, Anecdote, Press releases (again), Cost, Today as compared to the cost for his show, More costly today, Different equipment, Possible changes, Stage, Seats, Tent

Tape 4, Side 2: Henry and Mercedes Brunk [speakers], Box office, Receipts tallied each day, Tickets, Numbered, Tax restrictions, Anecdote about, Payroll, Paid in cash, Reports done, Journal, Note to see if business was good, Concession, Person hired handled all transactions, Settled on Saturday, Weekly reports, Anecdote about, Candy sales, Concert tickets, Predicting profits, Ticket prices, Depression, Effect upon show

Range Dates: 1916-1960

Bulk Dates: 1920-1950

Access Information

Original Recording Format:

Recording Format Notes:


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