Stage Surrealism

I am going to take a moment from visual arts to focus on performance art. I am lying here watching the original version of Sweet Charity and a number of things are striking me as fascinating.

This is a late 60s piece with a lot of key visual features. It is easy to forget what a pivotal production this is but visually it’s a feast. The dance scenes in particular are almost surreal in their motions. the structure of the crowds and the edgy maneuvers are chosen for the angles and negative space as much as the posing of the figures. if you look at high fashion magazines, the photography is about awkward angles and edge – that is what the dances achieve.

Do you ever feel that something is full of references to other things, until you realize the piece is the one that created those references to begin with? This production is surreal to me for the key reason that all of the women in the feathered wigs, sequins and artful makeup are actually biologically female. this strikes me now as deliciously ironic because I am so used to seeing the role of drag queens being played by drag queens! and this is before the phrase drag queen was even coined. This is one of those productions that influenced so much and paved the way for so many musicals – and costumes!

Its so easy to forget these original pioneer movies and musicals..

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