Chicago Humanities Festival

I'm directing a show at the Chicago Humanities Festival here on the University of Chicago campus this afternoon: come!

The show, which is improvised, is based on an incomplete fragment of a commedia dell'arte pantomime Mozart sketched out for himself and his pals to play in Vienna during carnival. Mozart reserved the role of Harlequin for himself and had his dad Fed-Ex his Harlequin outfit for the occasion. Unfortunately for us, only Mozart's violin line survived the centuries, along with an extremely spare, and often confusing scenario (including, for instance, that Harlequin goes from being alive in one scene to stone dead in the next for reasons that are not apparent, or the instruction that the "Doctor" is to exit and then that the Doctor then ... exits, again [from offstage?!])

Fortunately, the violin part alone is worthy of an Animaniacs appearance -- it does half the work of inventing action for us. Roger Moseley, who found the pantomime & engineered its musical reconstruction is jaw-droppingly good at revivifying 18th-century musical topics. He directs the ensemble from the piano bench.

I also decided to insert a couple other extraneous Mozarty bits into the score this time around: 1. Mozart's Turkish March for piano solo (which accompanies the otherwise totally unmotivated entrance of a "Turk" in Mozart's scenario, hence the appropriately out-of-place music) and 2. an aria for Columbine -- at Martha Feldman's request, Barbarina's aria from Figaro. The aria (accompanied by Pierrot) is a total red herring (no one has uttered a word thus far, let alone belted out opera), recalling, I hope, Christina Ricci's completely bizarre and wonderful tap dance in the middle of Buffalo 66, which has a similar effect.

As an additional layer, thinking the commedia relationships bear a striking resemblance to day-to-day academia (lecherous old professor, scheming post-doc, emo undergrad, innocent English major from Minnesota) the characters are dressed in U of C nerd wear.

There is a typo on the Chicago Humanities official webpage, which, alas, lists Roger Moseley as the sole director. Anyway, come, and while you're at it, try to pass yourself off as an "Educator" at the door so you can get in for free (think pocket protector, bedhead, fanny pack).


Harlequin: Jon Eliot
Pantalone: Greg Anderson
Pierrot: Peter Schultz
Columbine: Majel Connery
Doctor: Jonathan DeSouza
Violin: Emily Norton
Clarinet: Danny Gough
Piano: Roger Moseley
Cello: Emily M.

Mandel Hall
1131 E. 57th St.
Chicago, IL 60637

Adults: $10.00
Educators & Students: FREE

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