Jupiter Courier News - May 11th, 2011 by David Adamovich Ed. D

The inspiration of “Sherlock Holmes” has found a place in Jupiter. Staged combat instructor Cynthia Morrison has recently been inducted into Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum in Panama City, Fla. Morrison teaches theatrical combat at the Burt Reynolds Institute located in Jupiter, including Bartitsu, a Victorian mixed martial art.

The elements of Bartitsu include JiuJitsu, Cane fighting/defense, Boxing (Pugilism, fisticuffs) and Savate (French kick boxing) and self defense with an Umbrella. Bartitsu is featured in the works of Arthur Conan Doyle. An example is seen in "Terror by Night," starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in which Rathbone manages to capture a fleeing criminal using a coat in a restricting manner. This is just one of the unique methods taught during Morrison’s classes.

On a recent visit to the Ripley’s Museum in Panama City, Cynthia made a remarkable discovery — a 3-foot-poster depicting her performing the “Iron Maiden” along the corridor leading to the final display room of the Museum. On display in that room are life masks of movie actors including Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorrie, Buster Keaton and Sir Basil Rathbone best known, of course, for his role as Sherlock Holmes.

In awe of her discovery she shared some related facts. As a stunt performer and performance artist Morrison has long been a fan of the brilliance of Hollywood’s stuntman Buster Keaton. Also a writer and producer, Cynthia is soon to release her pirate themed short film, "The Arms of Autumn," featuring veteran Actress Joan Dennehy who has worked with Boris Karloff.

Upon reflecting with whom she’s displayed in Ripley’s Museum, Cindy stated, “This was a great day. I found it an honor to be the “Gate Keeper” of sorts for such magnificent performers as Keaton and Rathbone, literally standing on the shoulders of giants. Can it get any better than that?”

below: Sir Basil Rathbone in his day as Sherlock Holmes




The "Arms of Autumn" is written by Cynthia "Cindy" Morrison, actress, fight director, stunt performer, Jousting champion and modern day Vaudevillian.

Morrison is a graduate of the Burt Reynolds Institute in Jupiter Florida and was fortunate enough to be part of the Master class taught by Reynolds himself. After having her talents featured in two of the Institute’s showcases she then decided to expand her horizons in the film industry and share her combat skills and teach staged combat to fellow actors. These classes then led to a promotional reel, choreographed by herself, that includes various forms of combat offered to acting students. The actors involved in this project expressed that they had such a wonderful experience and wanted to do more so she decided to write a story around their newly learnt combat skills. Hence, the "Arms of Autumn" was born.

This short feature tells the story of a female Pirate Captain and her struggle to maintain her position. Set in the early 1900’s when women had very limited rights in society.

Captain Anne Sedgewick (actress Amy Hoerler) and her Brother Victor (actor Gregg Goldsbury) both possessed a passion for the Sea since their childhood. Victor choosing a career in the Royal Navy had went off to Europe for part of his formal education and worked his way to being a Quarter Master on a Royal Navy Gun ship. Anne not having the same opportunities as a woman chose to live incognito as a sailor in order to learn the ropes of being a seaman. She later on ceased the opportunity to commit mutiny and won her own Ship. The story character "Cinders", played by Morrison herself, is the defender-bouncer type sidekick to Captain Anne. She keeps close watch on Capt. Anne’s well being while ready to rid any Rogues or Rapscallions seeking to invade their territory.

Morrison’s idea of adding the late 1800’s British Royal Navy officer "Victor" stems from her distant association with regard to her Maternal Grand Father, Charles Howard. Not having researched ancestral records to find any direct relation but having knowledge of historic facts she found that Lord Charles Howard, High Admiral of England, took Victory during the battle of Trafalgar against the Spanish Armada. The unofficial connection with his name holds a fascination with the event and era.

Other characters include the mysterious "Mathalda" (actress Joan Dennehy) the landlubber fortune telling Gypsy that has been welcomed to the group of Pub dwellers due to her gender of course. She also relates with these characters since her Pirate like ideals are in order to survive in such harsh conditions that the late 1880’s presented. Dennehy has worked on film projects in the past with such entertainers as Boris Karloff and Gypsy Rose Lee. She also starred along side of Morrison in a production of "Zoo Story" written by Edward Albee. Morrison chose the name "Mathalda" for Dennehy’s character from a Circus Gypsy woman she had known during her equestrian performance days while providing Jousting displays. The more comical of the Pub dwellers is "Slappy" the English west Countryman and friendly mannered Pub owner (played by Graham Love) who loves to tell tales full of insignificant information. Offering assistance as a Victorian era Nurse is actress Earleen Marlowe when she steps in to rehabilitate a wounded Capt. Anne Sedgewick with her Sword slashing injuries.

Where would the "bad guy" learn his skills of combat and weaponry? At the "Salty Dog slogging Academy" family maintained combat studio with "Grand Master Pompeo" played by Danny Zaino and his Family of accomplished martial artists, Theresa, Dominique, Tony and Joey. "How lucky can a director get than to have 6 Black Belts, including Mike Cagni, drop in my lap for this project!" says Morrison.

Finally, the bad guy character "Iridius of Muxloe" is played by actor Rob Tassey who makes his way the "Isle of Burladero" to find Capt. Anne and take her treasure. He is accompanied by his sidekick "Emery" (actor Mark Emerson). The name of the Capt. Anne’s Island territory was influenced by Morrison’s position as a Bloodless Bullfighter. The word "Burladero" is the name of the short wall that Bullfighters wait behind until their chance to enter the Bullring (Plaza de Toros) to perform their dance with Capes and Bovine. This Bloodless type of Bull sport does not include spears, Swords or any harm to the animal.                                                                                                                                                            Morrison directs the fight scene with stunt actors

Jupiter actors on the Set of 'The Seven Steps' Egyptian themed film project.  JUPITER COURIER NEWS 

Jupiter actors on the Set of "The Seven Steps" Egyptian themed film project.

— Scotty Fusion, assistant executive director of the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre (BRIFT), has been cast as the lead man in "The Seven Steps." Written and directed by Cynthia Morrison. Fusion plays a modern day Mortician with a life long fascination of Egyptian culture. Things go awry when his spouse, BRIFT Master Class Actor, Rhonda Stearns, finds him "Mummifying" a cadaver while he is dressed as the Egyptian God of the Afterlife "Anubis." Fusion's Tomb Guard Alex Penate, the mortician's assistant, is in need of better sentry training as Stearns easily makes her way past him using her Umbrella!

Fusion is also an Award winning Cinematographer that filmed this project as well as acting his part!

Rhonda Sterns is well known for her strong talent in comedy as well as drama. She has been featured in several local productions. Stearns is also a professional singer. "If anyone can do it, Rhonda can!" "Seven Steps" director stated.

The Seven Steps part of the cadaver was played by Jupiter resident Lynne Jorgensen who is a performance artist and Human Target for Knife thrower Morrison (Seven Steps director) during their daring shows. Jorgensen enjoys the adrenaline rush involved when 14 inch steel blades impale a wooden background and outlining her body while landing only inches from her. " She's a terrible shot. She misses me every time" Jorgensen jokingly says.

Umbrella as weapon is only a part of the Victorian era martial art refered to as "Bartitsu". Morrison instructs various elements of staged combat. Her filming projects include combat action as well as unique historically based Plot and costuming.

The second "kicker" of this film comes when actor Tim Lawrence arrives unexpected to claim the body that is unknowingly in process of mummification. Lawrence's powerful comedic skills come to life in this production with his character cousin Jeremy Johnson.

Morrison is already in process of her next production. This time attempting to create in "Silent Film" fashion. Audiences at film festivals can count on more historically influenced thrilling combat included in these productions! As an actor she was recently cast as a Billiards player in a television commercial produced in West Palm Beach and scheduled for release in June, 2011.




Photo: the structure of "Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum in Panama City is designed to replicate the sinking of the Titanic.

Jupiter independent film maker recognizes centenary of “Titanic”

John Raines

— The world's largest and most luxurious ocean liner, Titanic was traveling from England to New York when it struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912.

It sank less than three hours later, with the loss of more than 1,500 of the 2,208 passengers and crew. Saturday April 14, 2012 marked the One-Hundredth Anniversary of this tragic and historic event.

What was known as “the Unsinkable” landed in a murky infamous grave at the bottom of the Ocean.

Jupiter area film maker and combat instructor Cynthia Morrison recently expressed her minute and distant correlation with the historic vessel. You see, Morrison’s efforts as a “Strong woman” and stunt performer are on display at the “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!” Museum located in Panama City Florida.

The actual building of the Museum is a replica of the sinking Titanic.

“Of all the Museum’s in the Ripley’s chain I was very pleased that my image landed on display inside this particular structure. So many patrons and passers–by can immediately relate with this world famous historic figure of unfortunate circumstance, the Titanic,” Morrison said.

Part of the combat that Morrison teaches is Victorian era self defense known as “Bartitsu”. On display in the same Panama City based Museum, along with Morrison, is actor Sir Basil Rathbone. Best known for his role as Sherlock Holmes. This detective series brought “Bartitsu” back into the spotlight inside various episodes when Rathbone uses the martial art to subdue his opponents.

A recent article by uk.eurosport featured a story about “The Sport stars who were on the Titanic”

A Quote from that article states:

“Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon- the Scottish landowner was a renowned sportsman who had won a team silver in the fencing at the 1906 Olympics. He was also an excellent wrestler, and took part in the mixed martial art known as 'Bartitsu' which was immortalised in Arthur Conan-Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories.

Duff-Gordon was among the 12 people on Lifeboat 1, which left the ship half-empty - mainly due to crew members who thought nobody would want to get on board since the ship was still believed to be unsinkable. He was briefly engulfed in a scandal after allegations that he had bribed the crew aboard the lifeboat not to go back and look for survivors following the sinking, but was later cleared and eventually died in 1931 at the age of 68.”

Morrison is in process of filming her latest production of "Silver Dollar" a story about two rival Wild West shows operating in modern times. A large part of the production is being filmed in Jupiter Farms.

She along with many others agree that the Titanic Centenary as well as future memorial events are of utmost importance in order to ensure that such tragedies shall not be repeated.

Remember the Titanic.

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