Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dancing in the Rain

In the Rain on the Terrace

Earlier we promised posts of summer weather at museums, as an effort to keep good spirits up given the impending end of the season.  Well (as you know), not all summer weather is sunny. The other week at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, there was bad weather again – but our good spirits remained intact!

The draw for visiting the museum that particular day (although, there are many to choose from) was the free Manual Cinema workshop performance being given on the MCA Stage.  We’ve been following Manual Cinema’s work for a bit now, and we were thrilled to see that they are collaborating with the MCA on a performance!  Manual Cinema does truly unique work in puppetry and performance, incorporating live music, editing, and even animation into their work.  They combine all of these elements to accompany their shadow puppets using overhead projectors, producing extraordinary results.  The performance that took place that Tuesday was to a workshop for Mementos Mori, their latest feature length show.

The workshop performance offered us (the lucky 300 or so visitors) a preview of Mementos Mori, with a few scenes from the feature, as well as a discussion afterward with company members, performers and directors.  The feature focuses on how technology in the digital age affects our concept and experiences of death… So in the preview we were given, Mementos Mori featured instances such as texting while bicycling, religious iconography depicting death, and even butchering.  It’s a unique but totally relevant topic, and the imagery presenting these scenarios was just incredible.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t take a photo during the performance for you all to see, but you can peep a few images from Mementos Mori here:   Stylistically, this was a performance unlike anything else I’ve ever seen, with the live puppetry, live action, live music and singing.  During the Q&A session held with the team after the performance (which I was able to snap a pic of here), the audience didn’t have questions as much as they did praise for the performers. Everyone left looking forward to the full performance in January as part of the Chicago International Puppetry Festival.

But that’s not where the fun ended!  The workshop performance let out in time to catch the last hour of Tuesdays on the Terrace, the free weekly Jazz concert held on the terrace on Tuesdays during the summer.  As we mentioned before, the weather was bad on this particular day – but the band played on, as they say.  The concert ended up being held inside Puck’s cafĂ©, which is just inside the terrace.  Despite the rain, we went outside on the terrace anyway (it’s one of the best backyards in Chicago), and saw that the rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of people around the museum: there were still people dancing outside, eating outside, even playing tennis while the rain fell, all to the tunes of Tatsu Aoki and the Miyumi Project.  People milled around the dueling didgeridoos (see right) inside the exhibit halls, peeping the Frida Kahlo and Simon Starling works as the music wafted through the museum.  It was truly a great sensory experience for visitors to the museum that night – and the best part that of the night was that all of the programs were FREE!  We will be back at the MCA soon for the much-anticipated “David Bowie Is” exhibit, along with the rest of Chicago, so stay tuned!                                                                                                                         


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