Greek classics, Quasimondo style

Artistic director Brian Rott talks about the physical troupe's newest show, "Bacchanalia," inspired by Greek mythology and philosophy.

By - Apr 18th, 2013 10:09 am

bacchiI recently visited The Milwaukee Fortress for a glimpse at The Quasimondo’s penultimate show of the season, Bacchanalia. The newest show from the physical troupe combines their talents for choreography and puppetry with a loose structure based on several Greek myths.

Inspired by the festival of Bacchus, Bacchanalia invokes celebration and indulgence. Before it was institutionalized, the festival, considered cult-like by many, began as a secret celebration away from the city. Part of that spirit derives from the large group of performers, with whom writer/director Brian Rott is excited to work.

“It’s a cast of 16,” said Rott. “I really wanted to work with a bigger chorus and pay our respects to the origin of theater.”

Rott explained that the cast uses movement to act out Plato’s philosophies, the Roman senate, and battles between the Greek gods, among other surprises.

If you’ve been to any of their shows this season, you know The Quasimondo operates on a certain level of daring. They fire your imagination with moments you’ve never seen before. It sounds like these moments will come largely from creative puppetry, as in past performances.

As I reveled in my sneak peek, co-writer/director Jessi Miller choreographed a group of about eight “Bacchis” (Miller is one of five choreographers at the helm of this production). The cast was backed by Bill Webb’s unrestrained, free-flowing music. The room was hot, and the male cast sat shirtless nearby in the Colosseum-inspired risers, while they muttered their lines and tapped their feet. Rott graciously provided me with his musings between moments of directorial problem solving with Miller.

“We’ve taken some liberties with these stories and made them our own,” said Rott. “We start from knowledge and go from there. A prevalent theme is the differences and relationship between the head and the body. Philosophers versus Bacchi. A lot has stayed the same.”

Even in the hectic rehearsal atmosphere, stripped of lighting and puppetry, the energy from The Quasimondo troupe was palpable and invigorating. Showtime should be nothing less than astonishing.

UPDATE: Bacchanlia’s premiere has been delayed due to a cast personal emergency. It will now open the weekend of April 26.  For more information, call (717) 34 QUASI. 

Categories: Theater

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