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Sat, Nov 26


Epsilon Spires

BUSTER KEATON COMEDY w/ Pipe Organ Musical Score by Jeff Rapsis

Experience Buster Keaton's timeless comedic genius and miraculous stunts executed with awe-inspiring precision with a live musical score performed by Jeff Rapsis on our historic Estey pipe organ! Our special program for Thanksgiving weekend features the films "The Scarecrow" and "Our Hospitality"

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 BUSTER KEATON COMEDY w/ Pipe Organ Musical Score by Jeff Rapsis
 BUSTER KEATON COMEDY w/ Pipe Organ Musical Score by Jeff Rapsis

Time & Location

Nov 26, 2022, 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Epsilon Spires, 190 Main St, Brattleboro, VT 05301, USA

About the event

Our Hospitality (1923) broadened the boundaries of slapstick and proved that Buster Keaton was not just a comedian, he was an artist. Enjoy this fun, short video about Buster Keaton's approach, and his lasting influence on filmmakers:

About The Film:

Although The General (1926) is Buster Keaton’s best-known and admired film, his 1923 feature Our Hospitality is one of his most perfectly constructed works. A period piece, the plot is loosely derived from the real-life feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys (renamed "Canfields" and "McKays"), two large Appalachian clans whose long-enduring conflict is legendary. Set in 1831, Keaton plays Willie McKay, a  young New York City dandy who is summoned to the Old South to claim his family’s estate, only to find that his inheritance is a rundown shack. On top of that he learns that the object of his affection (Keaton’s real-life wife Natalie Talmadge) is the daughter of the man with whom his family has been engaged in a long, violent feud. 

Willie McKay’s struggles are punctuated by brilliant slapstick setpieces that involve an exploding dam, raging waterfalls, and a primitive steam engine. In one of the most breathtaking moments of Our Hospitality, Willie is being chased by the Canfields and falls into a raging river. His sweetheart sets out to help, and she too falls in, so McKay has to help save her. The scene, shot on the Truckee River, nearly killed Keaton. He was splashing in the river with a hold-back wire tied around him. At one point, the wire broke, and Keaton took off like a shot down the rapids. Several men working on the film ran after him along the riverbank but were unable to help. In despairation, Buster grabbed onto a tree branch to avoid crashing into the oncoming rocks, but not before an entire school of little water snakes swarmed around him. What must have seemed to Keaton like hundreds of baby eels were flicking their tongues at him, and he did not know whether they were poisonous. All he could think of was finding something to hold onto before he was smashed to pieces. Of course, Keaton kept all of the sequence in the finished film in what is perhaps its most thrilling scene with it's infusion of real danger, and is one of Buster’s lasting marvels, a demonstration of his physical dexterity and skill, as well as his creative genius.

All the difficulties aside, Keaton was proud of Our Hospitality and considered it one of his finest films. The Buster Keaton canon is an invaluable gift to students of cinema history as well as to a long list of illustrious actors and filmmakers who continue to be greatly inspired by his films.  Nearly one hundred years after its release, Our Hospitality and the genius of Buster Keaton remain inestimable for those who wish to learn and, of course, for those who wish to laugh.

The Performance:

Jeff Rapsis lives in Bedford, New Hampshire, and accompanies silent film programs in venues throughout New England. A lifelong silent film fan, he began creating original musical scores and staging silent film programs in 2007 as a way to keep the form vibrant before the public. His technique is rooted in a traditional approach and texture, while applying imporovisation using contemporary scoring methods when appropriate to connect with today's audiences. Outside New England, he has accompanied films at the New York Public Library’s “Meet the Musicmakers” series and the Kansas Silent Film Festival. Rapsis has also provided original music for several silent film DVD releases by Looser Than Loose Vintage Entertainment of Manchester, N.H., and scored the independent feature film Dangerous Crosswinds (2005). His recorded scores also include piano music for Kino Lorber's reissue of Gloria Swanson's 'Zaza' (1923) and music for Reel Classic DVD's reissue of 'The Bells' (1926) starring Lionel Barrymore and Boris Karloff. As a composer, his 'Kilimanjaro Suite' for large orchestra was premiered in 2017 by the N.H. Philharmonic. A journalist by profession, Rapsis is co-founder and associate publisher of HippoPress, a weekly newspaper based in Manchester, N.H. He also serves as executive director of the Aviation Museum of N.H., a non-profit educational center based at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. Jeff has previously performed live soundtracks on the historic Estey organ at Epsilon Spires for silent films: The Phantom Carriage, and The Last Command and Clara Bow's romantic comedy "It". 


  • Buster Keaton Comedy

    Admission for Buster Keaton Comedy with Live Pipe Organ Soundtrack by Jeff Rapsis- refreshments will be provided. Please choose your seating with respect for others and let us know if you require special arrangements. $2 from every ticket goes directly towards the historic preservation of the venue. Thank you for your support! Enjoy the program!

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  • Sliding-Scale Ticket

    Tickets for this event are $20. Thanks to a generous grant from the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, subsidized tickets are available for those who self-identify as experiencing financial hardship. In order to make this program accessible for all, we are offering tickets by sliding scale. Taking equity and inclusion into account, please pay what you can to help support the artists and venue.

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  • Pay It Forward Ticket

    I would like to add a donation to my ticket to express my support and appreciation of the adventurous and intellectually-engaging programs at Epsilon Spires. Thank you & keep up the good work!

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