Possession: Baudelaire in a Box, Episode #5 (at Pivot Arts)
A one-week reprise at the Pivot Arts Festival!
We are pleased to bring back the latest installment of Baudelaire in a Box, as we share the bill with Manual Cinema at Edgewater & Uptown’s new Pivot Arts Festival. Theater Oobleck will present 16 cantastorias adapted from the work of Charles Baudelaire.
Baudelaire in a Box, Episode 5: Possession
and Manual Cinema’s ADA/AVA
Thursday, June 13 – Saturday June 15, 7:30pm
Sunday, June 16 AT 3pm ESSANAYSTUDIOS at ST. AUGUSTINECOLLEGE
1333 – 45 W. Argyle Street
(Where Charlie Chaplin used to make movies!)
Welcome to Oobleck’s19th-century movie house of ill-repute. Possession: Baudelaire in a Box, Episode #5 features songs of poison, betrayal, and shame to be washed down with longing, lust, and liquor. Charles Baudelaire’s notorious poems are performed by Ronnie Kuller, Chris Schoen, and Lindsey Whiting, as yards and yards of Dave Buchen’s beautiful and witty paintings scroll by as an interactive backdrop.
Chris, Ronnie, & Jeff Dorchen have each adapted five poems from Baudelaire’s 1857 book Les Fleurs du mal. Mucca Pazza accordionist Ronnie Kuller performs her five poems – including “The Fountain of Blood” and “Beauty” – in the original French. Mucca Pazza regular Lindsey Whiting sing Jeff Dorchen’s English adaptations of such poems as “Metamorphosis of the Vampire” and “The Ghost.” Chris Schoen performs his own translations of “Love and the Skull,” “The Cracked Bell,” and three more. As a nightcap, the prose poem “Get Drunk” will be performed by Dave Buchen.
Dubbed “an act of extravagant artistic idiosyncrasy” by the Chicago Reader, Baudelaire in a Box is a serial cantastoria project based on the work of Charles Baudelaire. Over the course of seven years (culminating in 2017, the sesquicentennial of Baudelaire’s death), the project will adapt each poem from Fleurs du mal as a unique cantastoria, pairing each musical adapation with “crankies” designed and illustrated by Dave Buchen. Over 30 poems have already been adapted and performed in Chicago, New York, North Carolina, San Juan, and Madison, Wisconsin, by Buchen, Schoen, and a motley cast of collaborators.
It is a project so ambitious, so immense, that it cannot be contained on a single web page. And so:
Here’s a video of Chris Schoen and Emmy Bean performing “Cupid and the Skull” from Possession.
Want an audio taste? Here’s a sneak preview from the forthcoming Baudelaire in a Box album “Heaven or Hell or Wherever,” featuring Schoen, Emmy Bean, John Szymanski, Ann Speroni (Art of Flying), and Heather Trost (A Hawk and a Hacksaw).
A video explanation of the cantastoria art form is presented by our colleague Clare Dolan here.
And learn more about Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal here.
We are performing as part of the inaugural Pivot Multi-Arts Festival, a celebration of innovative music, theater and dance June 6-22 throughout Uptown and Edgewater. See here for more information on the whole festival. For more info on Manual Cinema, go here.
“The tunes borrow indiscriminately from Tin Pan Alley pop, vintage country, and coffeehouse folk … and they often feel self-consciously maudlin or perversely jaunty, as though they’re tweaking the turbid angst of Baudelaire’s poetry” —Chicago Reader
The King Of Rain is available now as a digital download ($9) or CD ($12) at our Oobleck Bandcamp store. CDs come with a 20-page booklet featuring song lyrics and original illustrations by Oobleck founding member Dave Buchen.
This seventh episode of Theater Oobleck’s Baudelaire in a Box sets lively new English translations of poems from the 1861 edition of Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil to witty acoustic songs played by a six-piece ensemble…
The translations can be playful too—somehow I doubt Baudelaire’s original text uses “hummus” for a rhyme. Only once, on Sad Brad Smith’s rendition of “Grieving and Wandering,” does the troupe match bleak music to bleak verses, and the effect is so wrenchingly mournful it’s almost startling.
Gapers Block came out to the Hideout Inn to catch our Baudelaire in a Box “Episode 5” reprise. They said:
Like Baudelaire’s poems, which connect profound urban ennui to sometimes bawdy, sometimes gory imagery, the illustrations linked one non-sequitur to the next with sometimes humorous, sometimes distressing strokes.
Although the French read Baudelaire with great seriousness, one can only imagine that the poet himself meant for them to be read — or sung — as they were last night
We got great press for Baudelaire in a Box, Episode 4: Bad Luck, which premiered in North Carolina. Here’s links to the previews, with some choice quotes:
“You get handed a whole book of poems, of beautiful poetry about bars and opium and prostitutes and all the sins and beauties of life,” says Roberto Confresi of the New Town Drunks about adapting Baudelaire’s odes. “Each one is more incredible than the last.”
From The Herald Sun
“The illustration is all in my little world. The music is in their world, and they all meet.”
The Chicago Reader has listed Our top five theater picks for fall, including Baudelaire in A Box, Episode 3: Death and Other Excitements.
Tony Adler reports:
Buchen and Schoen plan to have all 126 poems boxed and ready by 2017, the sesquicentennial anniversary of Baudelaire’s death. You can gauge their progress this fall when they present cantastoria performances of the six poems that make up the “Death” section of Les Fleurs plus the magnificent “Anywhere Out of This World.”