Mary Toumanen and Aaron Cromie to Return to Fringe Arts' 2014 Fringe Festival with THE BODY LAUTREC, 9/12-22

Mary Toumanen and Aaron Cromie to Return to Fringe Arts' 2014 Fringe Festival with THE BODY LAUTREC, 9/12-22

Following their St. Joan Betrayed, Mary Tuomanen and Aaron Cromie are returning to the 2014 Fringe Festival, presented by 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

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.

About The Artists

Aaron Cromie and Mary Tuomanen, are Philadelphia based physical theatre artists and creators of devised work, educated at the Dell'Arte School and L'Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq, respectively. Aaron is a five time Barrymore Award winner for, choreography/movement, music direction and ensemble acting as well as a two-time recipient of the Independence Foundation Fellowship. Mary has been a company member of two ensemble theatre companies in Philadelphia (Applied Mechanics and Bearded Ladies) and in 2011 became the first woman in the city to play Hamlet since Charlotte Cushman, in a production at Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre that was funded by the Cushman Foundation. Aaron and Mary have collaborated previously on Sycorax, a meditation on the birth of The Tempest's Caliban, for the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre Classical Cabaret, A Paper Garden, a commission from the American Philosophical Society and Suite for Hands, a tabletop piece for four viewers (workshop). Their subsequent collaboration, St. Joan Betrayed, premiered to rave reviews at the 2013 FringeArts Festival. This physical theatre and puppetry solo show (directed and designed by Aaron and written and performed by Mary) toured various universities in 2014 and will play the Annenberg Center's By Local Series in October. Mary was invited to further develop this writing at the 2013 Dael Orlandersmith Writer's Residency at the Kimmel Center, which produced a companion piece entitled Hello! Sadness! whose work-in-progress showing was also directed by Aaron this December and will premiere in 2015.

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