1965's The Brightest Show on Earth - The Production Script


Souvenir Record Jacket Cover

Electric Power & Light Exhibit Production Script Revised and Timed

January 15, 1963

Alfred Stern
Robinson-Capsis-Stern Associates, Inc.
547 West Broadway
New York 12, New York
(ORegon T-0440)

"Uncle" Ben Franklin


"Uncle" Ben Franklin
The Voice
"Uncle Ben" Franklin
Sam the Eagle
The Boy Next Door (George)
The Girl Next Door (Betsy)

The gleaming, iridescent Pavilion of Prisims and its brilliant Tower of Light looms above and ahead as spectators ascend the gently inclined mechanical ramp. The glass enclosed ramp has gleaming copper handrails and a golden brass floor. At night it is illuminated with bright, optimistic suprise pink and golden amber lighting. The introductory music (a continuous loop) about a minute in duration, is lilting and energetic. It continues as visitors reach the loading area, where depending on their time of arrival and the size of the crowd, they wait for a minute or less. Thus the introduction will run about one minute (continuous loop) of which 30 seconds are music in the clear and 30 secnds are music under the introductory voice. The Voice is warm, friendly and mature, not pompous or "actorish."
 The Voice:
Welcome to Your Pavilion of Power and Light. This is the story of the Electric Utility Industry - a saga as soaring as four hundred thousand miles of transmission ines - as intimate as your bedside lamp. It is a fabulous, factual American legend you have created - and as such dedicated to all of you with admiration and respect.

Welcome to The Brightest Show on Earth!

And at the conclusion of the Prologue visitors step on to the revolving ring. The ring also has gleaming handrails in brass or copper. Its floor texture is flecked with gold - it is indeed a brass ring with the happy optimisitc connotation of that symbol. And now the music changes in mood to the somewhat awesome, mysterious introduction of The Overture of Light. There are choral voices and the pearly iridescent lighting of the loading area dims to an infinite blue.

The prism chamber glows with the primeval mystery of the aurora borealis in myriad shades of deep blues, emerald greens, violets and purples. The effect must be in total contrast to the golden pink iridescence of the pavilion's exterior, the night-time ramp illumination and the loading area's optimistic, pearly light atmosphere. The visual effects throughut this sequence are accomplished through dramatic light changes, graphics and color projection of still graphics. The Overture of Light music and choral voices are under The Voice. It is rather like an oratorio in feeling.
The Voice:
What is light? It is the sun . . .
And a great golden light floods the area. It is almost blinding in its brilliance and quickly fades to the previous deep blues, greens and violets.
The Voice: Fire . . . The initial collaboration of nature and man in our endless pursuit of power and light . . .
And on the word "Fire" begining at the point, growing in scope and intensity, the area glows and blazes in fiery reds, oranges and golds (general area lighting and projected flame special effects). The entire area seems engulfed in flames. We hear the flames sputter and crackle. When The Voice speaks again the conflagration fades and the light atmosphere returns to the mysterious deep blues, greens and purples.
The Voice: A single candle . . . lamps of oil, kerosene and gas . . .
Simultaneous with the above, through stylized projected graphics we quickly review the historic development of these lighting devices from the ancient Egyptians to the era directly preceding Edison. the sequence begins with a single candle, includes an ancient oil lamp, perhaps an 18th Century lantern, then a gas lamp and finally a rural American kerosene lamp of the late 19th Century. Each succeeding graphic projection remains illuminated until the series is complete and on the enxt words of The Voice they fade.
The Voice: Light is the beauty of the spectrum . . .
And simultaneous with this, through lighting effects our prism area becomes just that - a spectrum range of luminous colors. And now directly before the next words our lovely rainbow of colors quickly fade and once again the light atmosphere is deep indigo, violet and green. It grows even darker as The Voice speaks.
The Voice:

As violent as lightning . . .

It is quite dark now. There is a clap of thunder which reverberates throughout the area immediatley followed by projected (special effects) rain (which we hear) and a brilliant flash of lightning (special effects projection and lighting) followed by a sustained drum roll of thunder which echoes through the area and blends with the musical climax. The music now shifts to a magic expectancy and our original aurora borealis lighting effects return as The Voice continues.
The Voice: Light is indeed the opposite of darkness. It is enlightment - the essential condition of vision . . . the everyday magic created by man's inspiration and industry - and above all else, to modern man, light and energy are electricity.. 
And on his word "vision" the deep blues, greens and violets of the aurora borealis lighting broaden to our spectrum rainbow lighting once again. and on his words "man's inspiration" we see fleetingly a projected still photograph, in sepia, of Edison and his first incandescent lamp. It is that famed brooding photograph (and might well be located in the same area where we projected the series of graphics on the historical development of illumination). As the Edison photograph fades, we see high above us on the opposite side of the revolving ring, the first incandescent lamp itself (projected graphics) and as the general lighting again dims to deep indigo, greens and violets, through a serioes of prjected still graphics, the incandescent lamp grows larger and brighter. It reaches its maximum size and brilliance (the same size as Uncle Ben's balloon) on the final word "electricity) and dominates the area as the atmospheric lighting fades and the next sequence begins.

The quality of the music changes in character. It is brighter and more Sousa in orchestration as we begin to introduce Uncle Ben's theme. Edison's lamp, having attained its maximum size begins to fade as the area lighting becomes brighter blue and picks up another object of similar shape and indentical size. At first it is seen in silhouette.

As the lighting becomes brighter we see high above us, against a background of sky blue prisms, the spherical shape of a balloon floating high in the chamber. It is contour and must resemble the last image we have seen of the incandescent lamp. The fade out of the lamp and illumination of the balloon must be smoothly executed and visually flow from one to the other with the psychological ease and effect of a film disolve.

The festive balloon is patriotic in design, white, deep pink and blue, trimmed with the rich yellow gold of brass. Its mesh net and rigging are of brass, mounted by Uncle Ben's constant companion, an Eagle named Sam. His body is a light bulb, freqently in amber, his plumage and wings are brass. He is, of course, the symbol of the U.S., a patriotic character, factual and friendly but he can be firm and even a bit caustic at times. The balloon's decorative elements are festooned with deep pink, white and pale blue light bulbs which illuminate as it descends. Its gondola, trimmed in brass, is decorated with American flags. There is more than a suggestion of "Around the World in Eighty Days" and P.T. Barnum in its design which is gay and fair-like.

A spot light picks up the passenger in the gondola. He is Uncle Ben, a jovial, rotund character about three feet six inches in height and executed in light bulbs, lucite, electroplated wire, etc. He is an internally iluminated animated figure always surrounded by an aura of light. His mechanical animation and electronic illumination are synchronized with the script. There is much about him, his square cut glasses, tricorned hat, the cut of his clothes, suggest the editorial voice of the investor owned electric utility industry and free enterprise. Our Uncle Ben is rich in homey wisdom, somewhat sentimental, has a perpetual friendly twinkle in his eyes and loves to talk. As a character he is nearer George M. Cohan or Will Rogers than W.C. Fields, He is definitely not Senator Claghorn. Paul Ford would be a fine voice for Uncle Ben. A different though also fine characterization might be Zero Mostel. A copper kite complete with large brass key floats above his balloon and Uncle Ben might carry a long copper trimmed brass telescope. As the balloon drifts across the chamber area and descends Uncle Ben is observing the scene and spectators below. He obviously did not intend landing in a pavilion at the Fair.

Bless my stars, Sam! Where are we?
And now a spotlight concentrates on our Eagle
The New York World's Fair - The greatest concentration of science, industry and . . .
The balloon continues its descent and simultaneous with the above the lights pick up a three dimensional suggestion of the Unisphere, the theme symbol of the Fair which illuminates and a scale model of the EPLE pavilion which we are in. It also illuminates in constantly changing colors similar to the actual exterior night time lighting. Its brilliant central shaft of light shines up into the height of the chamber area.
Ben: Well, at least we saved the two bucks front gate admission. A penny saved is a penny . . .
Sam: You've been saying that for centuries . . .
And now the general lighting on the ring area brightens to pick up the spectators.

And who are they?

Sam: Our friends, the consumers and investors in the Electric Utility Companies of America. 

They look pretty pleased with themselves.

And now, for the first time we see on the projection screen in this area, The Girl Next Door. She is young and pert, about 19 or 20 - and extremely pretty. She has a natural, small town quality of healthy beauty, as fresh as a dish of cornflakes. She's everyone's ideal sister, a young Doris Day type. there must be nothing of the professional actress or model about her (though she should be played by a dancer-actress). She is wearing a fresh summer dress and perhaps a perky little hat. She is filmed in color against a limbo back ground, perhpas of prisms suggestive of the interior of the chamber area. The background color must match the color of the general area lighting. She faces in the same direction as the ring revloves and indeed seems to be moving with the specatators. The screen is somewhat above eye level and she is projected as a life size image. She is a bit tired, definitely lonely and dejected. She has obviously been at the Fair for hours and carries a horror of a pink and tourquoise feather doll and a huge plush black and white panda, complete with satin bow, which she must have won in the amusement area.

(Simultaneous with above) All except that one. she looks miserable.

And on the screen she stops in her tracks, turns back, looks up at Uncle Ben - and almost smiles.

(Simultaneous with above) You look sort of lost young lady, may I be of service?

And on the screen she moves a tentative step or two toward Uncle Ben and Sam. Obviously she sees they're not real, but creatures of fantasy. Their relationshipmust develop along lines similar to that of Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" and that helpful trio, The Tin Woodsman, The Cowardly Lion and The Scarecrow.

Girl Next Door:

The Fair's so big an' this building looked so pretty and silver . . .


(Interrupting) Silver my feathers! It's aluminum.

Girl Next Door:

(Continuing) I thought it would have a fashion show - or something glamouous - but it's all about light and wires and stuff.


(To her and to a degree to all the spectators) I've a feeling you should stay. You need a guide. The Fair's no fun alone.

And now on the same screen, a few feet ahead of the Girl, we see for the first time, The Boy Next Door, a birght young man in his early 20's. He's also alone, informal in character, breezy in manner, an eager beaver, a young Jack Lemon type. He wears a pair of slacks, a sports jacket, white shirt, etc. Perhaps at first he carries the jacket over his shoulder but quickly puts it on and adjust his tie after seeing this Girl. He is filmed in the same technique and seems to be going through the exhibit with us and indeed both figures serve as a bridge between the reality of the spectators and the fantasy of the show. On Uncle Ben's words "You need a guide." he turns toward the Girl and moves back in her direction. He likes what he sees and has something important to say to her. He picks up the giant panda she's been dragging by one ear and in a mood bordering on indignation, shakes his finger at her as he blurts out:
Boy Next Door:

Don't you know there's nothing we make or have - we do or see, which would be possible without electricity . . . Don't you know . . .

Girl Next Door:

I don't know you! (But after all she's lonely and finds him pleasant looking). Do you work here?

And beginning on his words "there's nothing" through her "Do you work here?" we see in meaningful graphics, perhaps using the vertical prisms, Mobilcolor lighting optics and/or florescent tubing a stylized visual which in simple and dynamic terms graphically relates the tremendous growth of production and consumption of U.S. electric power throughout the past 25 years. All such statistical information throughout the show must have a distinct style, communicate instantly and employ electricity and electronics in its techniques. It must never have the visual form of a conventional chart or graph. Any story of growth and development should, when appropriate, cover the past 25 years as this is (1) prior to the birth of our Girl and Boy and (2) provides us with a consistent frame of reference extending from the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair to the present Fair. Indeed the dates and symbols of both Fairs, the 1939-1940 Perisphere and Trylon and the 1964-1965 Unisphere might well be used as our graphic symbols identifying all such statistical inforamtion.
Boy Next Door:

No, but I'm studying electrical engineering - so I'm interested. Besides its the few shares of stock my folks have in our home town electric utility company that are helping me through school.

And now the lights focus on Uncle Ben and Sam once again.

(To the Girl and spectators) His name's George - 'knew one once - a destructive kid with a hatchet - but turned out rather well.


(To Boy and Spectators) Her name's Betsy.


(Reminiscing romantically) Knew a Betsy too - a lovely seamstress in Philadelphia - in the days before electric sewing machines . . .


Listen Betsy - I'll show you what all this is about .

Ben & Sam:

(Together) And we'll help.

The general area lighting begins to fade, first on our informational graphics, then on the Unisphere and EPLE pavilion and next on Uncle Ben and Sam through pin spots remain on both as the balloon begins to rise again (it has to get into position to repeat its cycle anyway). And now on their screen Geiorge linking arms with betsy, escorts her toward the next chamber. All lighting now dims except for a pin spot on Uncle Ben who points ahead toward the next area as the ring revolves the spectators into the next chamber.

 ClIck the Hand to go to Chamber Two

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