As Jean Cocteau demonstrated — by having the same actor morph from the Beast into the Prince in his 1946 film version of the fairy tale, both adroitly and equally embodied by Cocteau’s muse Jean Marais — “The Beauty and the Beast” is as much about the beheld as the beholder, and her power to see and perceive beyond appearances. Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s eternal tale of spiritual clairvoyance and connivance gets another reading starting tomorrow night at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art from NYC nouveau cabaret legend Julie Atlas Muz and her real-life partner London cabaret and side-show artist Mat Fraser. (And who unfortunately do not credit de Beaumont, at least in the MoCA press release. Creative sources matter; the phantasmagorical wasn’t born with Julie Atlas Muz.) Joined by a pair of marionettists from the UK theater company Improbable, they draw on song, dance, puppetry, shadow-play, and custom-made prosthetic arms for Fraser (born with phocomelia). Directed by Phelim McDermott, the show is also performed December 4, 8, and 11. A “relaxed performance” December 9 will, according to the PR, foster “a welcoming environment for people with learning disabilities and/or sensory communication impairments,” as pertains to “noise and movement in the seating area” and with “modified house lighting and sound.” The artists will lead a workshop on December 10, and Fraser will take part in a free discussion on sexuality in the disabled community on December 11. Bronwen Sharp photo courtesy Chicago MoCA.
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2000, 2016 Susan Yung
(Originally published April 10, 2000. Julie Atlas Muz performs with husband Mat Fraser — who she met while both were performing in the Coney Island Circus Side Show — in their company Oneofus’s production of Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s “Beauty and the Beast,” December 1, 4, 8, 9, and 11 at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.)
NEW YORK — Sarah Michelson & Julie Atlas Muz fear nothing. To paraphrase the hot-button words they use to accompany “Blister Me,” neither the shallow nor the deep. They do not fear public scrutiny of their bodies; nor the failure of making perfect logic of an evening’s performance. Not getting right up into the audience’s face in a big primal scream, not even the smaller things, like slipping on a wet floor or landing from a fall onto a bare hipbone or spine. Nothing. The result is that “Blister Me,” their collaborative hour-long performance seen Friday at Dixon Place’s quirky theater at Vineyard 26, hits notes in every key and octave, high and low.
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