Closed Casket

IMG_4082 (1)AUGUST 4, 5, 6
Links Hall at Constellation
3111 N. Western Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

To finalize and fulfill its seven-year adaptation of Charles Baudelaire’s scandalous, debauched 19th-century classic Les fleurs du mal (“The Flowers of Evil”) as an epic illustrated song cycle, Theater Oobleck’s Baudelaire in a Box project culminates in the summer of 2017 with Closed Casket — a 15-hour festival presentation of the complete cycle, timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Baudelaire’s death.

Over the past seven years Oobleck has produced 13 episodes of Baudelaire in a Box, each featuring hand-cranked boxed panoramas drawn and painted by artist Dave Buchen and scored with original music and performed by an ensemble of musicians and singers. Many of the compositions are set to original translations written expressly for this project.

Each episode features a unique ensemble of musicians, ranging from solo performances to an eight-piece band, and includes composers and performers from some of the most highly regarded outfits in Chicago, such as Mucca Pazza, Bobby Conn, Expo 76, Matchess, Tallulah, and Azita, as well as Theater Oobleck regulars Jeff Dorchen and Chris Schoen. To this Oobleck has added luminaries from the music scenes of Chapel Hill, NC, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and New York City.

The musical genres captured in these 13 episodes are too numerous to catalog, but include glam rock, bolero, cabaret, soul, tango, folk, golden-era country, chanteuse, ambient, and reggaeton.

Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) was a French poet, critic and translator whose explorations of the themes of humiliation, decay and “spleen” revolutionized modern poetry. The first edition of his notorious Les Fleurs du mal was published in 1857. Six of the poems were banned by the French government until 1949 for offending public morality. He died of syphilis-related complications at the age of 46.

“Baudelaire is a great poet to work with if you like your regret, irritation, disillusionment, and horror measured out in stanzas so well crafted they seem to invoke a kind of natural, inevitable law of human failure and loss,” says curator Chris Schoen. “There are other great prophets of disappointment and frustration, of course, but none I know who are so energetically cranky as Baudelaire. The man really knew how to employ an exclamation point. It makes for great songs.”

“When I read Baudelaire I hear Lou Reed, The Cure, Iron Maiden, Suicide and other touchstones of adolescent angst,” says Bobby Conn, curator of episode eight, “Delicious Night.” “I see David Lynch films circa ‘Eraserhead,’ fog and Klieg-lit synth-pop music videos, urban grime and glamour. In short, a Goth paradise.”

FULL SCHEDULE

Friday, Aug. 4 at 7 pm
The Chicago premieres of
“Bad Luck” (from North Carolina)
“Noche Deliciosa” and “El Rey de la Lluvia” (from San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Tickets $20

Saturday, Aug. 5 from 11 am to midnight
“The Wine Cycle” (in Spanish and English)
“Consolations of the Moon”
“Death and Other Excitements”
“Bad Luck”
“Possession”
“Elevation”
“The King of Rain”
“El rey de la Lluvia”
“Delicious Night”
“Noche Deliciosa”
“Unquenched”
Tickets $50 (includes lunch and dinner)

Sunday, Aug. 6 at 6 pm
“Episode X” includes 32 world premiere songs from the remaining poems in Les fleurs du mal
Tickets $1

 

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