by Kirby LindsayThe title ‘producer’ of the Moisture Festival requires the ability to juggle many hats, but not always literally. This year, Tim Furst, one of the five founding producers, booked over 100 acts for 36 Comedy/Varietè shows. He also does lighting design, and will oversee the lighting during the Festival. He did take a break from one duty. “I will not be performing this year,” Furst reported.
Furst spent “twenty odd years” with the Flying Karamazov Brothers, before he retired. He still performs solo, in his persona as Fyodor Karamazov, and fill-in with the troupe, now based in New York, in an emergency. It can take 6 months to train a new, replacement “brother.” Yet, he said he doesn’t miss the travel or regular performances. “I like spending more time at home,” in Fremont, he admitted, “and having dinner with friends.”
Behind The Stage
He also keeps busy with Moisture – or it keeps him busy. Furst met the other Festival producers – Ron Bailey, Maque daVis, Simon Neale and Sandy Palmer - through Fremont, and Oregon Country Fair. He described the 40-year-old summertime festival as a place vaudevillians gathered and exchanged ideas, talents and tricks each year, but “it has become less and less a gathering place.” The event doesn’t cover transportation, so only performers already on the West Coast attend. Performers aren’t paid so they won’t give up a lucrative gig to attend. Today, performers that once depended upon this gathering to stay connected can use electronic means – whether on the West Coast, East Coast or in Europe.
“One of the goals of Moisture Festival, as far as I was concerned,” he explained, “was to get together, hang out, see what others were doing, collaborate…” The social happens, but the producers also have experimented with the formula, according to Furst. At Moisture, “all performers get a share,” he explained, like a performer’s cooperative, and this way, “you don’t have to negotiate with every single act.” Also, the Festival funds travel expenses, and makes sure no one loses money by coming.
Furst also described some more subtle ways, they make the Festival attractive. “If you feed the performers they are happy,” he explained, “even if you don’t pay them a lot.” Festival volunteers put out food, and organize dinners – with food donated by friends of the Festival including Peter Glick of Roxy’s Diner and Tom Bennett – that provide opportunities to gather. Also, friends of the Festival open their homes so performers can stay in spare bedrooms, apartments or a sailboat.
Not On the Stage
For their 5th Anniversary, Festival producers invited back all the acts that had appeared so far. According to Furst, out of 125 invites, 123 returned. In this, the 7th year, the warm response continues – from acts they know and acts they don’t. As a result, they “ask those who performed for several years to take a year off,” Furst explained, and this is “self-imposed exile.”
Furst originally learned to juggle during coffee breaks, to pass the time. As Fyodor Karamazov, he does what he called ‘object manipulation,’ a form of juggling. “Juggling is a broad term,” he explained, and when used, “most people think of toss juggling.”
Furst manipulates cigar boxes or “meteors,” two objects connected by a rope (of Chinese origin). In Moisture shows, his meteors have been light wands, although he can do fire or bowls of water. He explained, when juggling with moisture, “if you do it smoothly the water stays in the bowls. If you make the slightest error, you get very wet.”
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.