Report from the Apocalypse (Cabaret, that is)

Many thanks to all who came out to the Neo-Futurarium on November 15 for our Apocalpyse Cabaret — and thanks especially to all the performers, soup ladlers, and generally helpful helpers. Through your combined efforts we raised $5600 for our artistic partners in Puerto Rico, who are still, two months later, struggling to sort out life in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Un gran abrazo to them, and to all of you as well.

posted 11/24/2017

Letter from San Juan

Hurricane damage
November 2, 2017

Greetings from Puerto Rico,

At the end of this letter I am going to ask you to send a donation, and the link for that will look like this.

And I'm also going to tell you about a benefit performance on Wednesday Nov. 15 at the Neo-Futurarium with a link to more info like this.

But first let me say something about catastrophes. When we experience them from a distance, via the news, they are quite well contained, with a starting date and an ending date. The fatalities are counted, the damages tallied, and we move on.

Catastrophes when lived, however, are anything but contained. They spill into every detail of one's life, large and small. Here in Puerto Rico, some 40 days after Maria struck, water, food, school, work, electricity, communication, health care, and income are among the many things that cannot be counted on from day to day. Basic matters of survival dominate. Life has become uncertain. The damages cannot be tallied because they continue to accrue. The dead cannot be tallied, because people continue to die. And to move on, to declare it over? That is a fantasy that few here allow themselves to indulge in.

Over the past few years, Theater Oobleck has had the privilege of working with a large and varied group of Puertorrican artists, producers, and crew on the Spanish-language Baudelaire in a Box shows Noche Deliciosa and El Rey de la Lluvia, and on 2015's SOS: A Summer Clown Cruise, all of which have been performed in both Chicago and San Juan. We are now asking you to support our colleagues as they continue to figure out how to live through this catastrophe. All of them have have been affected and are being affected right now, every day, in new and impossible ways. They have had to remake their lives around the question of survival, and the lives of their families, and the lives of their friends, and the lives of everyone they meet.

On Wednesday Nov. 15, Oobleck will stage an Apocalypse Cabaret at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland. The show features performances by Rey Andújar, Jean Carlos Claudio, Barrie Cole, David Isaacson, David Kodeski, Diana Slickman, and Edward Thomas-Herrera. The band 80 Foots will play some songs. We'll present a new short puppet play by Mickle Maher, Behold, Where Stands the Usurper's Curséd Head, featuring Samuel Taylor. And the whole thing is emceed by Martha Bayne.

Doors open at 6:30 for Soup & Bread dinner. The show starts at 7:00.

Tickets are here. For advance tickets, you name your price: anywhere from $10-$50. All money raised goes directly to help Oobleck's friends in Puerto Rico.

If you can't make the show, you can still make a tax-deductible donation to the fund here.

Thank you,
Dave Buchen
San Juan

posted 11/10/2017

Community Mural Painting Day for Memory Palace 10/7

Community Mural Painting Day

Saturday October 7, 11 am-3 pm
Silent Funny, 4106 W. Chicago Ave.

ALL AGES; FREE; SNACKS

Come paint your neighborhood with us — the things that scare you and the things that keep you safe.

Final mural will be presented as part of A Memory Palace of Fear, a haunted house and art installation opening October 19 at Silent Funny.

posted 10/06/2017

Memory Palace of Fear trailer


AMPOF from catjab on Vimeo.

posted 10/06/2017

The Casket has Closed

A huge THANK YOU to all the dedicated artists, performers, composers, volunteers, donors, and audience members who made Closed Casket an unbelievable… we’ll leave it right there. An Unbelievable!

It exceeded even our foolhardy dreams for it. We even found our way onto a segment on NPR’s All Things Considered!

We’ve turned our last crank. The scrolls of artwork have been cut into sections and given to our collaborators and supporters. But the project lives on in photos and videos (stay tuned for updates), as well as studio albums and EPs of music from the series, with more on the way:

We also have some leftover merch from the show—artwork, mugs, totes— for sale here.

posted 08/08/2017

Half-day Closed Casket tickets available

Breaking News: Half-day ticketing options are now available for the Saturday, August 5, mega-performance: Afternoon (w/ lunch) & Evening (w/ dinner). That’s right: delicious food is INCLUDED. Click for tix.

posted 07/24/2017

Music, Poetry and Art from Baudelaire in A Box July 13

Thursday July 13 at 6:30pm
Seminary Co-Op Bookstore
5751 S Woodlawn Ave. Chicago IL

Chris Schoen and Emmy Bean preview musical selections from Theater Oobleck’s upcoming Closed Casket: The Complete, Final and Absolutely Last Baudelaire In A Box, a project setting all of Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal to music and performing it in tandem with scrolling illustrations. Following a brief presentation, the performers will be joined in discussion by Ira S. Murfin, on the experience of adapting, commenting on and annotating Baudelaire’s 150 year-old work through music, translation, and visual media.

posted 07/08/2017

Snail Band Baudelaire benefit July 12

Wednesday July 12 at 7pm
Weegee’s Lounge
3659 W. Armitage, Chicago IL

Suggested donation at the door, $20 (includes one free drink)
Raffle tickets $5
This performance is 21+

Slow down with Theater Oobleck and Snail Band, together at Weegee’s Lounge for one night only!

The show is a benefit for Theater Oobleck’s upcoming CLOSED CASKET: THE COMPLETE, FINAL, AND ABSOLUTELY LAST BAUDELAIRE IN A BOX — a festival of music and poetry August 4, 5, and 6 at Constellation in which all members of Snail Band are participating.

At this very special air-conditioned performance, the band will perform a few songs from Baudelaire in a Box as well as other slow and gentle songs, and we will raffle off TWO FESTIVAL PASSES — each an $85 value. Plus a preview of some Baudelaire merch, conviviality, and more. Our travel expenses for Closed Casket went well over budget so any additional monies will go to offset these unexpected costs.

Snail Band came into being in May of 2016 as part of Opera-Matic’s Joyful Passage: A Serenade to Humboldt Park, singing serenades of snails and slowness to a very secretive snail sculpture near the Humboldt Park Lagoon, with lovely lyrics by Cin Salach set to music by Ronnie Kuller as leisurely waltzes and unhurried tangos. Since then, Snail Band has slowed down various other Opera-Matic events in neighborhood parks, singing snail songs and performing instant odes generated by community event participants. Weegee’s Lounge is Snail Band’s first indoor venue, which is fitting, as snails are extremely photogenic and also very good at lounging.

Snail Band is Emmy Bean (Eighty Foots) on singing, Ronnie Kuller (Mucca Pazza, Mister Tom Musick) on accordion, piano, and singing, Julie Pomerleau (Bobby Conn) on violin and singing, and Joey Spilberg (Lamajamal, Schtedoidish) on double bass.

posted 07/08/2017

Official Video for "The Drag"

We sometimes talk about crankies being a kind of low-tech proto music video. And that’s true! But sadly you can’t share them very easily on social media. So, please to enjoy this newfangled Official Music Video from our latest Baudelaire In Box album, Unquenched, available now at our Bandcamp site!


The Drag (Official Music Video)

From Unquenched: Music From Baudelaire In A Box Episode 9
Available at: theateroobleck.bandcamp.com

“The Drag” was composed by Ronnie Kuller, setting Mickle Maher’s translation of “L’avertisseur,” by Charles Baudelaire.

Videography by Cat Jarboe.

Snake images used with kind permission of Joseph Farah. See more of his beautiful reptile and amphibian photos at: reptilesofcolorado.com/about-me.html

posted 05/16/2017

Original Baudelaire artwork available to donors

One of several gorgeous scroll segments you can claim as a reward at the $200 level (first-come/first-served).

See more pieces available at the $100, $200, and $400 donation levels.

Visit the kickstarter for Closed Casket here.

posted 04/22/2017

Help us fund Closed Casket

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the death of the great poet Charles Baudelaire, Oobleck is bringing 50 performers, composers, & musicians together from all over the world for a gigantic festival of song & image. But we need your help!

KICKSTARTER for CLOSED CASKET: The Complete, Final And Absolutely Last Baudelaire In A Box

posted 04/21/2017

Ingenious, eccentric, and quietly devastating

Writing for the Chicago Reader, Tony Adler says “Jim Lehrer and the Theater …” is “hilarious” AND “terrifying,” that Colm O’Reilly and Brian Shaw are “two extraordinary actors,” and that Mickle Maher “is as good a playwright as any working in America today.”

Read the full review here: What Does Chicago Playright Mickle Maher Got Against Jim Lehrer?

Meanwhile, at New City, Alex Hunstberger says the play is “an odd, hilarious, and ominous tumble down the rabbit hole.”

Read his review here: Double Double Jims In Trouble

posted 01/27/2017

More on A Memory Palace of Fear

It starts with a table of keys, two dead flowers and a rubber rat.

A few meters behind, there’s a cardboard door to a cardboard house. Crumpled butcher paper strung high to the empty warehouse ceiling simulate fog and fire, while a smoke machine pumps an acrid version of the former.

A moment later, the door opens and the real estate agent comes out, and now comes the moment I tell you this isn’t your typical haunted house.

This isn’t your typical haunted house. …

Read more of Paul Dailing’s writeup from the dress rehearsal of A Memory Palace of Fear here, at 1001 Chicago Afternoons.

And Alexandria Johnson follows up her preview for the Social Justice News Nexus with this in-depth report from inside the halls of horror.

posted 11/22/2016

Back in the Box

Thanks to everyone who came out to see our 9th installment of Baudelaire In A Box at Links Hall, and to the extension at Stage 773. The cranky scroll is now packed away in storage, awaiting its brief swan song next summer as part of our grand finale extravaganza. The music still reverberates in our ears—look for a digital release of the songs from Unquenched in the coming year. Meanwhile, we are curating a Vimeo channel of videos from the show, as well as past episodes. Check it out!

posted 11/13/2016

Unquenched Requenches!

This is a photo of the grave of Charles Baudelaire.

Those red smudges are—we can only surmise—from your own lipsticked lips, readers, as you try to manage your grief that Episode 9 of Baudelaire In A Box has come and gone. Well, you have moved our hearts. We are announcing an extension of 4 additional shows of Unquenched at Stage 773’s cabaret theater, Thursdays and Fridays 11/3 through 11/11.

The two Friday performances are late shows. May we recommend coming for the 7:30 early show latest presentation by our friends at BoyGirlBoyGirl ? Then, grab a drink at the bar while we set up the crankie, and join us for Unquenched at 10PM. Double Feature!

Read all about Unquenched here

Buy tickets HERE
Tell your friends!
Four shows only!

posted 10/26/2016

Memory Palace Preview By Social Justice News Nexus

We’re grateful for the support of the Medill School of Journalism’s Social Justice News Nexus in helping to underwrite our Haunted House event this weekend. Given their interest in the project, it’s no surprise that they summarized the show better than we could ourselves! Read their excellent preview of A Memory Palace of Fear here and be sure to click the link for tickets at the end. Memory Palace is a timed entry event—we will do our best to accommodate walk-ins, but your best chance at not having to wait for an open slot is to reserve your tour in advance. See you there!

posted 10/26/2016

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"Unquenched" is Reader-Recommended!

The Chicago Reader highlights the “lovely, sweet-minded kind of darkness” of Baudelaire In A Box, Episode 9:

“Between the black-and-white pictures and the musical influences ranging from country to klezmer, the overall tone here is moody; even Mickle Maher’s slangy, comic treatment of “L’Avertisseur” (about the nasty yellow snake living in every man’s heart) can’t quite shake off the darkness. But it’s a lovely, sweet-minded kind of darkness, well expressed by the onstage septet.”
–Chicago Reader, recommended

Just four more shows before we pack up the scrolls and start work on the last batch. Got your tickets yet?

posted 10/12/2016

Unquenched on WBEZ's "Morning Shift"

We had a chance to sit down with Tony Sarabia of WBEZ’s Morning Shift to discuss and perform excerpts from the upcoming episode of Baudelaire In A Box (opening next Wednesday at Links Hall)

Oobleck Regulars Chris Schoen and Mickle Maher spoke with Tony about the history of the show, and the creation process, punctuated by performances by two songs from the show by Emmy Bean, Annie Higgins, Troy Martin, and Dave Smith. The whole segment is archived on the Morning Shift website. Have a listen! Then come see the whole shebang, crankies and all, at Links Hall, October 5-16.

posted 09/29/2016

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Baudelaire Episode 9 Cometh


Our next episode of Baudelaire In A Box, “Unquenched,” features new compositions from TEN composers, with contributions by Oobleck Regulars Jeff Dorchen, Chris Schoen, and Mickle Maher (who has written translations being set to music by Ronnie Kuller and Mark Messing. The list of composers is rounded out by Reid Coker (The Judy Green, Billy Blake and The Vagabonds), David Costanza (Art of Flying), Annie Higgins (Weatherman, Singing In The Abbey), Angela James, Abraham Levitan (Baby Teeth, Shame That Tune, Nerds On Tour), and Joey Spilberg (LamalJamal, Schtedoidish).

Panoramic scrolls conceived, illustrated, and operated by, as always, Oobleck co-founder Dave Buchen.

The show hits Links Hall in October. Tickets available later this month.

posted 07/10/2016

Oobleck artists featured in Chicago Arts Journal Fall 2015

The sneakily subterranean Chicago Arts Journal’s fall edition contains an excerpt from Feng-shui Love Spells by Jeff Dorchen, as well as an interview with our own Diana Slickman!

GET THE PDF HERE

posted 11/25/2015

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