Look who’s talking
Page 13 of the Leader Messenger dated 30 November, 1983 featured an interview with talented young ventriloquist Linda Jane and her friend Charlie. Does anybody remember watching Linda Jane and Charlie on Channel 9’s talent show New Faces? The article focused on Linda’s emerging career in ventriloquism and on her childhood experiences. Linda Jane and other artists were to appear in a series of concerts to entertain inmates and staff in Adelaide’s gaols. A brave girl! Prisoners at Yatala Labour prison had been rioting and lighting fires.
A ventriloquist can change their voice and make it seem like the words they are speaking are coming from a puppet or dummy, which is commonly referred to as having the ability to ‘throw your voice’. The technical term for a ventriloquist’s dummy is a ventriloquial figure.
In the 1940s and 1950s ventriloquism was incredibly popular in Australia. Hundreds of people performed the art of ventriloquism on stage. Ventriloquism became a novelty, when electronics used in modern film made it easy to convey the illusion of a non-living character having a voice. Less people visited the theatre to watch comedy and musical acts. Fortunately technology and the Internet have created new opportunities for ventriloquists to build new audiences and connect with fellow performers. Carrying on the tradition, Darren Carr and David Strassman are two ventriloquists who are popular with Australian audiences.
If you find ventriloquist dummies creepy, you are not alone. Fear of ventriloquist’s dummies is known as Automatonophobia. People who suffer from this phobia feel stressed in the presence of ventriloquilist dummies. They may also dislike animatronic creatures, dolls or wax statues. Anything that resembles a sentient being. Symptoms range from feeling uneasy when looking into their glass eyes, to experiencing panic attacks, an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath or nausea!