March 26, 2024

Necromancers of the Public Domain: Broadway Racketeers

Library Futures, in collaboration with Theater of the Apes and the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy, presented Necromancers of the Public Domain: Broadway Racketeers on Leap Year Day 2024. This special Public Domain Day performance was designed to showcase the creative possibilities unlocked by works entering the public domain, doing so through the (rightfully) forgotten text, "Broadway Racketeers" by John O’Connor. Ever wondered how to dupe a bystander with a glass eye? Yeah, neither did we.

Now in its sixth year, this iteration of Necromancers was the first in person show since early 2020. The evening was not only a celebration of artistic revival but also served as a platform for a new advocacy effort: the establishment of a National Public Domain Day. Kicking off the event, Jennie Rose Halperin, Director of Library Futures, emphasized the mission of the new effort, which will officially launch this summer. "Celebrating the public domain is about shared cultural heritage – and for that reason, we are encouraging a date that's set aside just to celebrate the vast riches of the public domain and the cultural heritage of the United States.”

Theater of the Apes’s Ayun Halliday served as the event’s MC. Halliday, a prominent East Village creative, is the conceptual brains of this event, but the Necromancers brought the fun. Through skits, songs, standup, and even dance, they brought their talents to a variety of performances that ranged from the silly to the even sillier, breathing new life into this forgotten work. From the story of a simple yet clever con involving a stamp shared by Halliday​​ to Blues Clues’s Nick Balaban’s weirdly catchy song about “the Glim” (whatever that is) to Charming Disaster’s jailhouse number, the Necromancers were divine diviners of the lost and forgotten.

Necromancers of the Public Domain: Broadway Racketeers / This episode is audio from Necromancers of the Public Domain Broadway Racketeers. It was recorded on February 29, 2024 / EC Live!
Listen to audio from the event!

In an era where contemporary media frequently takes center stage, theatrical performances like “Necromancers of the Public Domain” not only entertain but also shine a light on the crucial role of the public domain in creating a more equitable, just, and informed society.

Keep an eye out for our Public Domain Day advocacy package, coming soon to a computer near you!

Featured Necromancers & Photos: 

Event Photos on Instagram

Nick Balaban (Hello, Cruel World / Blues Clues)

Ellia Bisker & Heather Cole (Charming Disaster / Funkrust Brass Band)

Bryce Edwards (The Bryce Edwards Frivolity Hour)

Dejen Tesfagiorgis (Deja Deja Comedy)

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