March 12, 2020 - April 5, 2020
BOARD & STAFF
Board of directors
Moisture Festival is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a governing board of directors
Ron W. Bailey – President
A son of a hillbilly military man from West Virginia and a working girl from Scotland, Ron co-founded the Moisture Festival and serves as its Artistic Director. Over a fifty-year (and counting) career as a songwriter and musician, Ron has played Bumbershoot and Folk Life and has busked the Pike Place Market. Also, as a founding member of vaudeville troupe Du Caniveaux, Ron has performed at The Oregon Country Fair and in Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, and London.
Maque daVis – Secretary
A former disreputable circus owner, known to indulge in absurdist theater, and is seeking to be defamed before his time. He helps around the house, seeks an audience that survives intense laughter, and is curious in what is beyond their reach. Often he asks himself; why now and do you have your ticket yet?
Phil O’Brien – Vice President
Mary Fleischman – Treasurer
Mike Bailey started theatre work at age 14, building stage sets and trying not to bash his thumb with his hammer. Many years later he signed on as a Moisture Festival volunteer, became a Board Member, and then was elected as Moisture Festival’s Treasurer.
Raised on bluegrass music, my Arkansas Dad dreamed his son and daughter would also learn classical music. He bought us violins and we eventually played in the Seattle Youth Symphony. I also sang for the USO, entertaining at local military bases. My professional career for 50+ years has been in media sales. Known as “the oldest broad in broadcasting”, my duties on the Moisture Festival Board of Directors is to raise community awareness of our unique entertainment value.
Dan is a dedicated fan of live theater—the wackier, the better. As a former member of Boston theater troupe Fresh Fruit Productions, he produced and performed in musical-comedy revues with such titles as “Spring Queening” and “Venus Envy.” Now an attorney at Susman Godfrey, with prior experience in business strategy and finance, he also serves on the boards of the ACLU of Washington, QLaw, Carbon Washington, and Washington Coalition of Minority Legal Professionals.
Ted is a stay-at-home Dad of three daughters, which certainly shows him the comedy and variety in life. He is actively involved in his daughters’ school (TOPS K-8) and serves on its Site Council. He has dabbled in the circus arts enough to know how hard they are, and he enjoys helping to organize the Moisture Festival.
Bob Greco was born and raised in New York City where he earned a BA in Mathematics and an MS in Systems Science. He was an early software geek with an entrepreneurial bent and co-founded Active Voice Corp which grew from 2 to 350 people. He served on the board of the Washington Software Alliance as well as numerous for profit companies. He is a founder of the MossyBack Morris Men (1980) and continues to dance and play melodeon for the team.
Born in Paris between the Moulin Rouge and Le Chat Noir, and raised in the sawdust of the circus, Charly and his brothers founded the world-famous foot-juggling and Icarian-games trio Les Castors. He has performed in fifty countries for the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Queen Elizabeth, President Richard Nixon, Prince Albert and Princess Stephanie of Monaco, Sean Penn, George Lucas, and Sharon Stone and has been part of the Teatro ZinZanni team in Seattle and San Francisco for over a decade. Now focused on directing, teaching, and sharing his knowledge of acrobatics and comedy with the next generation, he’s found a perfect place with the Moisture Festival.
Jennifer joined Moisture Festival in 2006 as a volunteer, then as a co-Producer, and in 2010, the Board of Directors. Jennifer comes from a dance background, trained at Cornish College of the Arts and has performed in the Seattle and Central California areas. She also brings experience in project management and operations management from nearly ten years of working in the telecom industry to support her performing arts habit. Jennifer currently serves as the Director of Smooth Operations (aka Managing Director).
Jennifer Wensrich, Managing Director
Cheryl Angle, Development Director
Kenny Allen, Artist Communication Coordinator
Kara Sweidel, Bookkeeper
Brigette LaGarde, Operations Coordinator
Jay Nuske, Food Maven
Jamie Marshall, Bar Manager
Rick & LJ, Transportation Coordinators
Susan Miller, Artist Housing Coordinator
Cathy Johnson, Airfare Coordinator
Cathy Sutherland, Libertease Cabaret
Martha Enson, Libertease Cabaret
Susanna Pugh, Libertease Cabaret
Luminous Pariah, Libertease Cabaret
Dream Frohe, Aerial
Tim Furst, Variety
Randy Minkler, Variety
Tom Noddy, Variety
One of the things which makes the festival’s financial structure unique is the “share” system, wherein all the performers receive the same amount of money per show ($40 per share last festival). For each show in which someone performs, they accumulate one share.
The festival finances are dealt with as a whole, not on a show-by-show basis. Thus the total income of the festival is pooled, and after the expenses have been paid and some money is put aside for the coming year, the balance is divided among all the performers on a per-share basis. One result of the system is that the amount of each share is determined by the overal financial sucess of the festival, and each performer receives the same size share whether they perform in a sold-out Saturday night show or a casual Wednesday show.
For a more in-depth look at our share system, read our blog post here.
The festival is incorporated in Seattle, Washington, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. As a community-based organization, it depends on the generosity of volunteers and seeks sponsorship from local businesses to help defray the production costs.
Ticket sales cover roughly half the expenses of the festival. This reflects our desire to keep ticket prices affordable. Our tickets range from $11 to $30. As a result Moisture Festival relies heavily on fundraising and community support. To donate or sponsor click here.
Moisture Festival is also very dedicated to giving back to the generous community we are a part of in Seattle. In past years the Moisture Festival has proudly donated benefit shows to”Aerlift” an aerial show presented by The Aerial Army of Love, B. F. Day School Foundation/ B. F. Day Elementary School, Backbone Campaign, Cascade Leadership Challenge, Circus Contraption, Clowns Without Borders, Experimental Education Unit, Fremonstor Theatrical, Fremont Arts Council, Hands for a Bridge, Phinney Neighborhood Association, Room Circus Medical Clowning, SANCA (School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts), The New Old Time Chautauqua, Vashon Youth & Family Services, and Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.
History Of The Moisture Festival
The seeds for the festival were planted at the Oregon Country Fair, and the vaudeville/circus/music/burlesque scene in Seattle added the Moisture that made it grow.
In 1996 Tom Noddy – the “Bubble Guy” and a regular vaudeville performer at the Oregon Country Fair – brought Ron W. Bailey to a comedy/varieté festival in Berlin, created by Hacki Ginda, a notorious German clown. Every day and night there was unique and wonderful entertainment in two tents, one large theater known as “The Chameleon” and several smaller venues in mid-town Berlin. Tom, Ron and Hacki dreamed about someday bringing a festival like that to the people in Seattle.
Enter Maque DaVis of Cirque de Flambe, The Fremont Players and ex-President for Life of the Fremont Arts Council. Maque had helped organize the Fremont Solstice Parade and created “Trolloween”. He and Ron had often talked about bringing some acts from the Oregon Country Fair to Seattle. In 2003 they joined ideas. Understanding the grand scope of producing a festival they brought in Tim Furst, aka Fyodor Karamazov of The Flying Karamazov Brothers, along with Sandy Palmer and Simon Neale of the Fremont Players to help organize the event. In 2004, with the help of Fremonstor Theatrical, Du Caniveaux and the contributions of many artists and sponsors, they created “The Moisture Festival” to bring comedy/varieté to the center of the universe and the greater Seattle area.
Today, organizers who work diligently year-round to keep the festival going are Jennifer Wensrich, Tim Furst, Maque DaVis, Mike Bailey and Ron W. Bailey with help from Randy Minkler, Cathy Sutherland, Martha Enson, and David Crellin.
The first festival was only five days long and was held in a tent in Fremont, rented at a discount from His Reverend Chumleigh. Fortune was on the festival’s side when many of the organizers favorite artists responded to their call to perform and christen the first shows. It has continued to be the generosity and willingness of the comedy/varieté/burlesque artists and musicians that keeps the festival alive. There have always been many gracious, hard-working volunteers who share in the fun of making it happen.
Local small businesses and individual sponsorship played a major role. That very first year, an unassuming guy delivering the kegs from Hale’s Brewery to the tent turned out to be Mike Hale. After bringing his wife Kathleen to an evening show, they offered to help in any way they could. This led to the brewery’s warehouse being converted to Hale’s Palladium. The Palladium has served as the home of the festival ever since. Additional sponsors have continued to come onboard because they like the sense of joy the festival brings to the community.
In 2005, Cathy Sutherland invited the Seattle burlesque community to perform in some late night shows at the festival, giving birth to our extremely popular cabaret/burlesque series. It became known as Moisture Festival’s Libertease Cabaret 2006. These shows traveled to ACT – A Contemporary Theatre in downtown Seattle. We consider ourselves fortunate to have collaborated with ACT, under the fun loving artistic direction of Kurt Beattie and his staff.
In 2008, Moisture Festival celebrated its 5th anniversarry and achieved 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
In 2009 (through 2012) another new collaboration was born with Seattle International Film Festival. Together we created a film program that ran during Moisture Festival and highlighted films in the comedy/varieté/burlesque genre, with a festival artist performing live before each film.
In 2010 two new venues presented varieté shows. On Vashon Island, Open Space for Arts and Community, a beautiful 400-seat warehouse space transformed into a flexible events venue and in Georgetown, one of Seattle’s great arts-oriented neighborhoods, the festival presented shows at The Georgetown Ballroom, a truly gorgeous venue tucked away next to the railroad tracks with its own mini villa. In 2011 we produced a late night Burlesque show for Georgetown’s April Fools weekend.
In 2012 the Libertease Cabaret shows debuted at Broadway Performance Hall on Capitol Hill. Moisture Festival has continued as Libertease Cabaret on Broadway to the present festival.
In 2016 Moisture Festival travelled to Glasgow, Scotland to help raise funds for the restoration of the world’s oldest surviving Music Hall – the Britannia Panopticon, where Stan Laurel debuted.
2018 marks the 15th anniversary of the festival.
Moisture Festival has always believed in the good will our festival artists bring to the community, a treasure shared by the artists and the audiences alike. Those of us at the heart of this theatrical adventure very much appreciate the way in which the Seattle community has embraced Comedy/Varieté/Cabaret at Moisture Festival, our month long, one-of-a-kind celebration of spring and the variety arts in the great Northwest.
Comedy/Varieté today is an intriguing assortment of entertainment. It is highly skilled performance mixed with many bizarre talents, often humorous, with no limit to the imagination. Presented as a variety show, each act or artist performs their routine within a 3-15 minute time slot while being accompanied by a live show band.
Aerialists, jugglers, magicians, comedians, dancers, rope acts, bubble acts, clowns, acrobats, can can girls, strong women, strong men, tap dancers, drill teams, musicians, the weird and the wonderful all keeping the tradition of Comedy/Varieté/Vaudeville alive.
The festival’s Comedy/Varieté home and main theater is Hale’s Palladium, in the Hale’s Brewery warehouse located between Fremont and Ballard at 4301 Leary Way NW. Libertease Cabaret shows are presented at Broadway Performance Hall on Capitol Hill.