All change at the Empire Palace
U 6.184-7: Hoardings: Eugene Stratton. Mrs Bandmann Palmer. Could I go and see Leah tonight, I wonder. [...] Or the Lily of Killarney? Elster Grimes Opera Company. Big powerful change. Wet bright bills for next week. Fun on the Bristol. Martin Cunningham could work a pass for the Gaiety.
Weldon Thornton (Allusions in Ulysses) notes that these artistes and shows were performing in Dublin in 1904. Newspaper advertisements such as the following promoted the events:
Joyce’s insertion of ‘Big Powerful Change’ can be seen to derive directly from these advertisements. Its meaning is somewhat obscure, but everything falls into place when we take a longer look at theatrical publicity material over the years. Two years earlier, in 1902, the Empire Palace was offering:
More significantly, way back in 1886, Dan Lowrey’s Star Variety Palace in Dublin promised:
And from this is can be seen that ‘Big Powerful Change’ is the theatre’s way of expressing the excitement it wishes to engender at the impressive change of attraction on the bill this week – just as exciting as last week’s, so don’t miss it!