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<  Announcements  ~  Thrillpeddlers' Bastille Day Event Covered by SF Weekly

Russell Blackwood
Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2004 10:58 am Reply with quote
Moderator Joined: 18 Sep 2003 Posts: 125
Thrillpeddlers and San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum (SFPALM) celebrated Bastille Day together this year, producing a one-night-only Grand Guignol event, BREAKING THE SHACKLES: DE SADE, GRAND GUIGNOL, AND THE FRENCH BODY. The evening's bill featured a 45 minute performance by Thrillpeddlers followed by a lecture and slide presentation by theatre historian Mel Gordon.

We were fortunate enough to be chosen as subject of Silke Tudor's Night Crawler column in last week's edition of SF Weekly. Check it out, if you like at:

http://www.sfweekly.com/issues/2004-07-21/nightcrawler.html

If you'd like to know more about the event, I've also included parts of the SFPALM press release, below.

Cheers!
Russ


BREAKING THE SHACKLES:
DE SADE, GRAND GUIGNOL, AND THE FRENCH BODY
An evening of unfettered live acts with explanations and refreshments to follow

Wednesday, July 14, 2004 - 7:00 PM at San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum

(SAN FRANCISCO) ? In the tradition of their smash Grand Guignol event last Halloween, the San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum and Thrillpeddlers again join forces for a special Bastille Day celebration. One of the Bastille?s most infamous inmates, The Marquis de Sade, wrote 120 Days of Sodom in the prison, and reportedly spurred on the angry mobs from the top of the tower using his chamber pot as a megaphone. In honor of this illustrious history, UC Berkeley professor Mel Gordon (author of The Grand Guignol: Theatre of Fear and Terror) will offer a provocative multimedia presentation on renderings of the French body at the time of the Grand Guignol. Russell Blackwood and Thrillpeddlers will perform blood-curdling scenes from two Grand Guignol classics, The Marquis de Sade and The Torture Garden. Diabolical local chanteuse Jill Tracy makes her theatrical debut at the event, performing in anticipation of her role as the leading lady of Thrillpeddlers? 5th annual pageant of terror and titillation, Shocktoberfest!! 2004, opening in October. Original visual gems from the Grand Guignol collection of Mel Gordon will be on display, and refreshments will be provided.

The Event:
The French Revolution helped spark the question ?What does the human body look like in a free society?? Suddenly fashion no longer belonged solely to the aristocracy, but to everyone. French society began to question what ?fashion? was before the revolution, not only as defined by clothing, fabrics, wigs and make-up, but by a body?s weight, shape, complexion and manner of movement. Even the appropriateness of bare chests for women as well as men became a topic of debate.

While his countrymen were first asking questions about ?free bodies,? the Marquis de Sade was asking his own set of questions about bodies, dominated and extreme. Sade delivered his message by breaking taboos, unflinchingly and unapologetically. Sade?s shock approach is still in use today, but perhaps the French were most responsible for carrying these ideas through the 20th century. Le Th??tre du Grand-Guignol, the Moulin Rouge, the Casino de Paris, and the Folies Bergere, all concentrated in a few blocks in Paris? Montmartre district, carried the Sade message by displaying and breaking body taboos onstage.

About Sade:
One of the Bastille?s most infamous inmates, The Marquis de Sade, wrote 120 Days of Sodom in the prison, and reportedly spurred on the angry mobs from the top of the tower using his chamber pot as a megaphone. One week before the storming of the Bastille, Sade was moved to another prison. The revolution may have brought out the best in Sade. Finally freed after twelve years in prison, Sade donned the signature red cap of the revolutionaries and shook off nobility by changing his name. ?Citizen Louis Sade? took a post in the new government, but resigned after a few weeks to protest the increasing violence after the revolution. For this he was jailed for eleven months and narrowly escaped the guillotine himself. The 1790?s, however would be a prolific decade for Sade with the anonymous publication of Justine, Juliette, and La Philosophie dans la Boudoir, as well as theatre productions written and directed by ?The Divine Marquis? himself.

Mel Gordon?s Presentation:
UC Berkeley professor Mel Gordon (author of The Grand Guignol: Theatre of Fear and Terror and Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin) will offer a revealing multimedia presentation on renderings of the body on the French stage. An exhibit of old entertainment and girlie magazines (a surprising treasure trove of information on the Grand Guignol and its influences) will reflect America?s fascination with the French "free body."

Live Thrillpeddlers Performance:
Russell Blackwood and Thrillpeddlers will perform scenes from two Grand Guignol classics, along with shocking accounts from the Marquis de Sade and Maxa, the Grand Guignol?s leading lady and original star of the two plays featured on this evening?s bill. Le Marquis de Sade premiered at The Grand Guignol in 1921. The script by Charles M?r? remains a fascinating snapshot of ?The Divine Marquis? -- as a madman, pervert, deviant philosopher, and the perfect anti-hero for die-hard Guignolers. Translated here for the first time by Jeff Casper (whose translations also appear in Mel Gordon's Grand Guignol), this scene will include performances by Richard Louis James and Thrillpeddler Lisa Jenai Hernandez, both fresh from the Shotgun Players? production of Quills, Doug Wright?s 1996 Obie-winning play and another depiction of the Marquis on stage and screen.

The Torture Garden is based on Octave Mirbeau?s 1899 classic novel and was adapted for the Grand Guignol stage by Pierre Chaine and Andr? de Lorde. When Mirbeau, himself a frequent contributor of plays to the Grand Guignol repertoire, wrote this novel it was considered so notorious, nearing the infamy of Sade?s own writing, that it was once described as ?the most sickening work of art of the nineteenth century?. The Torture Garden was adapted to English by Dr. Richard Hand and Mike Wilson, and is included in their book Grand-Guignol, The French Theatre of Horror.

Le Th??tre du Grand Guignol and Entertainment in Montmartre:
For 65 years an old Jansenist monastery down a back alley in Montmartre was home to one of Paris? great stage attractions, Le Th??tre du Grand Guignol. Born in 1897 out of the Naturalist theatre movement, the theatre company soon developed its own distinct repertoire of short horror plays, dramas, comedies and sex farces. As many as six of these one-acts played on a single bill, a ?laughter and tears? line-up that alternated effortlessly between gasps and guffaws. This ?hot and cold shower? format seemed to intensify an audience?s delight and unease as they collectively realized that anything could happen on the Grand Guignol stage - no topic was taboo, and no symbol was sacred. Particularly during the decades that book-ended WW I, live entertainment flourished in Montmartre. The artists of Montmartre played a vital role in the development of new performance genres for the 20th century. What is thought of today as ?modern drama? and popular entertainment owes much to Montmartre?s melodramas, cabarets, music halls, repertory theatres, and on-stage experiments that ranged from the avant-garde to the overtly sexual.

Thrillpeddlers
Thrillpeddlers (www.thrillpeddlers.com) have been performing their unique brand of horror and fetish theatre in San Francisco for over a decade. Under the direction of founders Russell Blackwood and Daniel Zilber, Thrillpeddlers are continuously engaged in translating, adapting and producing classic plays from the infamous repertoire of Le Th??tre du Grand Guignol and producing other works inspired by the Grand Guignol. Thrillpeddlers? production history includes the American premiere of Clive Barker?s Frankenstein in Love, Mondo Andronicus (selected Best of the 1997 S.F. Fringe Festival), a double-bill of The Medium and A Crime in the Madhouse (in Pretoria, South Africa) and, Shocktoberfest!!, Thrillpeddlers? annual pageant of terror and titillation and a San Francisco Halloween favorite. Thrillpeddlers are also the purveyors of www.GrandGuignol.com the most complete source of Grand Guignol information on the Net.

Mel Gordon
Mel Gordon is a professor of theatre arts at UC Berkeley, a long-time friend and advisor to Thrillpeddlers, and author of The Grand Guignol: Theatre of Fear and Terror the first book in English about the Grand Guignol, as well as Dada Performance, Expressionist Texts, Lazzi: the Comic Routines of the Comeddia dell?arte, Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin and Hanussen: Hitler's Jewish Clairvoyant.

Jill Tracy
San Francisco-based music artist/storyteller Jill Tracy has garnered multiple awards and a passionate following for her evocative piano music, sophisticated lyrics, old-world glamour, and curious passion for collecting strange tales. Tracy, who will make her theatrical debut with this presentation, is a siren of the dark side who has been dubbed by the San Francisco Chronicle a ?femme fatale for the Thinking Man.? Aside from her three critically acclaimed CDs (including Diabolical Streak, which has transfixed fans from Santa Cruz to Siberia), Tracy recently appeared on the Artists For Literacy compilation CD, Songs Inspired By Literature, alongside Aimee Mann, Tom Waits, and Bruce Springsteen. Her animated short film, The Fine Art of Poisoning, directed by Bill Domonkos, has won nearly 30 national awards this past year. She has performed everywhere from alternative rock venues and swanky cabarets to the legendary Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Tracy?s original score to F.W. Murnau?s classic vampire silent Nosferatu (with The Malcontent Orchestra) has been a Bay Area Halloween concert tradition since its debut in 1999. (www.jilltracy.com)

San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum
The San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum collects, preserves, and celebrates the history of the live performing arts internationally, with a special emphasis on the San Francisco Bay Area. Through our research library and galleries (which are free and open to the public), educational outreach, artists? conversations, concerts, and screenings, we encourage greater understanding of performing artists and their work. The Performing Arts Library is located in the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue (@ McAllister), 4th Floor. For more information, call (415) 255-4800 or visit the Library?s website at www.sfpalm.org
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