In the early 20th century, filmmakers were frequently compared to hypnotists, enticing hysterical movie audiences with wild collective hallucinations! In these rarely seen films curated by UMN’s Maggie Hennefeld, a woman is hypnotized by a Svengali, a jealous lover practices tele-hypnosis to defeat his rival, an overworked housemaid has sleeping sickness, a female coach drive can’t believe her eyes, an obsessive inventor gives us a sneak preview of Zoom, and cinematography offers a miraculous cure to hysterical amnesia. With live, original music by Dreamland Faces (Karen Majewicz and Andy McCormick, featuring Molly Raben on Northrop’s historic pipe organ) this singular program is a must-see for film buffs, music lovers, and the historically-curious.

Program curated by Maggie Hennefeld.

Maggie Hennefeld will provide an introduction at the top of the program, and following the event, will moderate a panel discussion that explores themes raised by the screening, from the process of composing music for silent cinema to archival histories and contemporary practices of spirit-mediumship.

Panelists include: Michael Callahan (Writer, Producer, Performer), Robert Cozzolino (Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings at the Minneapolis Institute of Art), Karen Majewicz (Artist, Dreamland Faces), and Emily Winderman (University of Minnesota Assistant Professor, Communications Studies).


At the Hypnotist's (Chez le magnétiseur), Alice Guy-Blaché, Gaumont, France, 1897

*Hypnotizing the Hypnotist, Laurence Trimble, Vitagraph, US, 1911

*Rosalie Has Sleeping Sickness (Rosalie a la maladie du sommeil), Pathé, France, 1911

*Cunégonde the Coachwoman (Cunégonde femme cochère), Lux, France, 1913

*Love and Science (Amour et science), M.J. Roche, Éclair, France, 1912

Le Mystère des roches de Kador, a Léonce Perret film, 1912. Gaumont production

*Included in Cinema's First Nasty Women (Kino Lorber, 2022)

“Falling in love with Dreamland Faces might appear, at first, like falling in love with Buster Keaton … Or silent film itself.” —Star Tribune

“For nearly two decades, Karen Majewicz and Andy McCormick have composed and performed dozens of scores for silent films filled with accordion, organ and the warbling of a musical saw. The duo sets the mood, builds the mystery and cues the mayhem.” —Star Tribune


Learn More - Explore These Themes

The content below derives from the Northrop Across Campus Program that supports Northrop's mission towards intersections between performing arts and education for the benefit of all participants now and for generations to come.

Find ways to make thematic connections to these suggested topics:

  • Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies
  • Music Theory & Composition
  • Audio Design
  • Cinema & Media Culture
  • Silent Cinema

Start a conversation about the performance, or encourage reflection, using these questions as inspiration.

In Hysteria, Hypnosis, and Hallucination, audience members have the opportunity to witness six rarely seen silent films, ranging in subject matter from lovers plotting to destroy their rivals through tele-hypnosis to an overworked housemaid with sleeping sickness. The films (all made between 1898-1913) center on themes of feminist protest, slapstick comedy, and suggestive gender play. 

  • In what ways has the representation of gender in film changed over the last 100 years? In what ways has it stayed the same? 
  • When you think of stereotypical American TV or film characters who embody cultural gender ideals, what characters come to mind? What defining attributes do they share? 
  • How has popular media influenced your understanding of your own gender expression and identity? 

In her book, Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes, University of Minnesota Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, Maggie Hennefeld writes, “Slapstick comedy often celebrates the exaggeration of make-believe injury. Unlike male clowns, however, these comic actresses use slapstick antics as forms of feminist protest.” 

  • How might slapstick be a form of activism or feminist protest?
  • What role does comedy have in enforcing or deconstructing gender roles?

For nearly two decades, Karen Majewicz and Andy McCormick of Dreamland Faces have composed and performed scores for silent films using the accordion, musical saw, and organ. During the screening of Hysteria, Hypnosis, and Hallucination, local musician Molly Raben will be joining Dreamland Faces on Northrop’s historic pipe organ. 

  • If you were to compose an original score for a silent film, what considerations would go into your planning process? How would you communicate the narrative theme, tension, conflict, etc.?
  • Why do you think the organ is a popular accompanying instrument for silent films? What about the organ makes it well suited for storytelling?


Minnesota State Arts Board logo

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.