THE BODY LAUTREC to Play Neighborhood Fringe, 9/12-22

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THE BODY LAUTREC to Play Neighborhood Fringe, 9/12-22

Following their St. Joan Betrayed, Mary Tuomanen and Aaron Cromie are returning to this year's Neighborhood Fringe during Fringe Arts with The Body Lautrec. This inventive theatre piece will run September 12-22 at the Caplan Studio Theater at the University of the Arts, 211 S. Broad Street. Tickets cost $25 and are available at www.fringearts.com.

Art and medicine collide in this physical theatre exploration of painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec: outsider, exhibitionist, clown, medical object, and self-appointed archivist of the Paris underground. Mary Tuomanen and Aaron Cromie have created a new work that uses actors and puppets to explore an artist that equated the grotesque with the sublime. The Body Lautrec is a story of bodies breaking, dancing, translated and transformed through the lens of Toulouse-Lautrec, whose own body was deformed by a congenital bone disorder. The Body Lautrec looks at the artist's body of work and his body itself, in a stunning physical theatre piece that lulls the audience out of their sense of normalcy and into the world of a man that refused to feel shame.

While creating this piece, Tuomanen and Cromie developed a relationship with Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. The museum became a primary source of dramaturgical research and was a venue for an early show. Tuomanen directs this show with Cromie appearing as Lautrec. Four women will play a mix of characters including the many physicians, performers and prostitutes in Lautrec's life. Lautrec's own skeleton is a recurring character, the constant reminder of his bone disorder. It is featured as a series of puppets of several stages in Lautrec's life, designed by Aaron - the flawless frame of young Lautrec's pre-injury body, the fractured bones of his teenage body, and the pocked and weakened skeleton riddled with syphilis in his later years.

The puppets examine the complicated relationship between the character and his physical difficulties. This piece will also explore objectification in the Doctor/Patient relationship and in the Artist/Subject relationship. In Lautrec's syphilitic fever dream, the gazer becomes the gazed -- the female subjects of Lautrec's art stand behind the easel and put him in the awkward position of Art Object, or Object of Medical Curiosity.

"In The Body Lautrec, we hope to give the audience the same view as bourgeois patrons of the Moulin Rouge -- a voyeuristic peek at joy in the face of death. We watch as enfeebled bodies throw themselves into a glorious last dance before they are snuffed out," said Tuomanen.

This piece is conceived by Tuomanen and Cromie. It is directed by Tuomanen. The cast, along with Cromie, includes: Kittson O'Neill, Christie Parker, Kate Raines, and Heath Allen. Cromie designed the scenery and the puppets. Maggie Baker is designing the costumes. Rob Kaplowitz is the Sound Designer. Allen is the Composer/Pianist. Bayla Rubin is the Stage Manager. Justin McDaniel is the Technical Director. Scott Cassidy is the Production Manager. Maria Shaplin is the Lighting Designer and created the Graphic Design for the show.

The Body Lautrec is supported generously by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, The Jim Henson Foundation, The Wyncote Foundation, The National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, and The Charlotte Cushman Foundation.

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