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Un quatuor de créations comiques

inspirées par

la Collection Dixon

Les Trois Grâces / The Three Graces

Nadège Keller

English Synopsis

Three women by three different artists – Jean-Louis Forain’s "Woman in a Café," Adolphe-Félix Cals’ "Mother Boudoux at her Window," and Mary Cassatt’s "The Visitor" – inspire three interwoven portraits of women’s lives and loves. On the left, a woman in a café drowns her sorrows while awaiting Adolphe, the lover she hopes will leave his wife for her. He leaves instead his dog in her care on his way to visit his aunt after his mother’s death. The aunt, center stage, kills the fatted calf (or, in this instance, a turkey) to welcome him, in the process, over-indulging in cognac and sad memories of her departed sister. On the right, convent school friends meet after twenty years to reminisce and take stock of their very different lives, the one trapped in a monotonous marriage after losing her first love, Adolphe, the other equally dissatisfied with a string of empty relationships.

Elegiac comedy

6 (4 w / 2 m)

Approx. 15 minutes

4 chairs, a café table, a kitchen table, a tea table, tea set, ceramic dish, rubber chicken, assorted bottles and glasses, stuffed dog. Original produc- tion featured digitized repro- ductions of the paintings pro- jected as a backdrop.

As minimally or elaborately late-19th-century as desired. Original production attempted to recreate the dress of the three women in the portraits.

 

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Jean-Louis Forain, (French, 1852 – 1931)

Woman in a Café, circa 1885

Collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens

Mary Cassatt (American, 1845 – 1926)

The Visitor, ca. 1880

Collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens;

Bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Hugo N. Dixon, 1975.28

Adolphe-Félix Cals (French, 1810 – 1880)

Mother Boudoux at  Her Window,1876

Collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens

Script
(PDF)

Chez les danseuses / Backstage with the Dancers

Mathieu Lhoste-Clos

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Nineteenth-century farce

11 (6 w / 5 m)

Approx. 20 minutes

Nineteenth-century backstage green room: sofa, end tables, rugs, etc. Original production featured digitized reproduction of the J.-L. Forain painting pro- jected as a back- drop.

As minimally or elaborately late-19th-century as desired. Original production attempted to recreate the dress of the figures in the painting.

 

Script
(PDF)

English Synopsis

Jean-Louis Forain’s Intermission on Stage is the inspiration for the comic misadventures of a govern- ment minister, Mr. Cals, taken on a backstage tour of the Paris Ballet by his friend Mr. Duchaussoy. After meeting with the visiting francophilic dignitary Herr Ulrich von Früstrüraizichenaur, he is accosted by two crusading members of the women’s league for public morality, who accuse him of sponsoring the ballet more for its low-cut leotards than for its high-brow culture. They’ve arranged for his wife to take matters in hand. The domestic spat is cut short by the arrival of the Cals’ son, Adolphe, on the arm of the great Anna Pavlova, who has come with the director, Mr. Marchand, to persuade Mr. Cals to increase government support for the ballet. Mrs. Cals and Mr. Marchand, as it happens, are lovers, but their stolen moment of bliss is interrupted by the early return of Mr. Cals, whose evening is decidedly ruined.

Jean-Louis Forain, (French, 1852 – 1931)

Intermission on Stage, 1879

Collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens

Le Chagall dont vous êtes l'objet / The Chagall about You

Jeff Persels

English Synopsis

Three different sets of museum-goers, three different interpretations of the same enigmatic Marc Chagall painting, Bouquet of Flowers with Lovers, all of which, we learn from an obnoxious art critic, are wrong! A woman’s Freudian fantasy, a couple’s naïve reliance on the artist’s biography, and a lonely accountant’s tragic, poetic love affair with Chagall’s riff on the Theseus / Ariadne / Minotaur  myth – all highly personal readings with which the figures in the painting must comply – are, in the eyes of the professional art critic, intolerable. “This is Art,” he admonishes us with conviction, “it has nothing to do with you!” Includes loving abuse of excerpts from the great French playwrights Henri de Montherlant, Jean Racine, and Thomas Corneille, not to mention the wikipedia.fr entry on Marc Chagall…

Marc Chagall, (Russiane-French, 1887 – 1985)

Bouquet of Flowers with Lovers, 1926

Collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens

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Tragi-comic Satire

8 (3 w / 5 m)*

Approx. 15 minutes

Minimal (a violin, a length of twine, a chair for the museum guardian). Original production featured digitized reproduction of the Chagall painting projec- ted as a backdrop.

As minimally or elaborately late-19th-century as desired. Original production attempted to recreate the dress of the minotaur, bride and groom  in the portrait. Other characters in modern dress.

 

*Some fexibility possible with regard to gender of roles.

Script
(PDF)

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Nineteenth-century farce

10 (4 w / 6 m)

Approx. 30 minutes

Scene I: Nineteenth-century bedroom: bed, end table, rugs, etc. Original production fea- tured digitized reproduction of the J.-L. Forain painting pro- jected as a backdrop. Scene II: empty stage, save for a couple of chairs. Original production featured digitized reproduction of the G. La Touche painting projected as a backdrop.

Also ropes, 2 potion flasks, 2 wheelbarrows.

As minimally or elaborately late-19th-century as desired. Original production attempted to recreate the dress of the figures in the paintings.

 

Script
(PDF)

Ci-gît Adolphe / Here Lies Adolphe

Jean-Marie Mille

English Synopsis

Is Adolphe, the man in Jean-Louis Forain’s "After the Ball," dead or not? His lawyer Tabellion fills two friends in at length on Adolphe’s youthful obsession with the beautiful Manouche, which led to his brief imprisonment, return to the provinces, serial affairs, and unhappy marriage to – and abandonment of – a woman who passed another man’s child off as his. It turns out he is not dead. Upon his return to Paris, Adolphe fell into a drunken stupor after mistakenly believing he had seen the lost Manouche at the ball in honor of corrupt government minister Marloupiot’s re-election campaign. His avenging paramours, under the influence of a potion slipped into their wine, descend in a fury to humiliate him and ruin Marloupiot’s chances for re-election. Back at the ball – modeled after Gaston La Touche’s The Joyous Festival – the revenge plan goes awry when the potion’s secondary effects kick in. All’s well that ends well, or sort of. Vive Marloupiot!.

Jean-Louis Forain, (French, 1852 – 1931)

After the Ball, the Reveler, ca. 1881

Collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens

Gaston La Touche, (French, 1854 – 1913)

The Joyous Festival, ca. 1906

Collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens

Tableaux vivants, tableaux parlants was written and staged in celebration of a 2013 traveling exhibition of impressionist paintings from the Dixon Gallery and Gardens at the Columbia Museum of Art, where the quartet of one-acts (plus frame narrative) was performed. The idea came from the nineteenth-century fashion for tableaux vivants, wherein costumed actors "froze" in representation of famous paintings. Featuring prominently projected paintings as backdrops that "come to life," the four sketches both recreate an imagined backstory for the paintings and comment in various ways on the  art museum experience. This ultimately led to the addition of a "frame narrative" to tie the four one-acts together, in the form of a prolonged visit by an "average" couple, Nicole and Baptiste, the one a keen, if naïve art enthusiast, the other reluctantly along for the ride. Written by the actors who performed it, Mathieu Lhoste-Clos and France de Lesquen, the frame narrative is included in the full production text (see Download to the right).

 

Script
(PDF)