Return of the Gods

Quasimondo revives “Bacchanalia”

The physical theatre company starts their sophomore season at Villa Terrace with the play that ended their last season: a lusty romp through ancient Greek mythology.

By - Sep 21st, 2013 12:01 am
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The cast of Bacchanalia, seen here in last season's MIlwaukee Fortress show

The cast of Bacchanalia, seen here in last season’s MIlwaukee Fortress show

The Quasimondo’s quirky, smart, and sensuous show Bacchanalia was one of the wonders of this theatrical year. The playful movement theater piece ranged freely among Greek tragedy, satyr plays, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, the mystery rites of Eleusis, and Nietzsche’s famous account of the battle between Apollonian order and Dionysian abandon. The show had everything from a haunting, lyric dance recreation of Persephone’s descent into Hades to a mock-epic chorus number called “It’s Good to be a God.”

But among the unlucky mortals who–despite your love for Clash of the Titans and/or mustachioed German philosophers–missed the show: rejoice! Invited by the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Quasimondo is trading the gritty industrial space of the Milwaukee Fortress for an elegant Mediterranean Villa. It will be like seeing Ovid played out in the house of some Pompeian dignitary. Recently, Brian Rott, Quasimondo’s guiding genius (alongside co-genius Jessi Miller), met with TCD at the Dry Hooch cafe to discuss the play’s return and answer a few other burning questions.

The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, site of Bacchanalia's revival

The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, site of Bacchanalia’s revival

According to the puckish Rott, (who plays Bacchus in the show as a kind of trickster master of ceremonies), “Quasimondo” is from the Italian words meaning “sort of” and “world:” each show creates its own little universe, Rott explains, “trying to get under the skin of a form or style.” Since Quasimondo’s shows are created from source material via group process and improvisation, they eschew linear story-telling in favor of a free-associative logic akin to dreaming. Rott admits that his chosen form is both “liberating” and a “terrifying” departure from conventional theater, but asserts: “I couldn’t imagine going back to a script.” Asked how he wants audiences to take their shows, Rott responds: “I want them to have different reactions. It’s fine if at the end they have questions. We’re here to stimulate, not alienate; it’s whatever you took from it.”

BacchanaliaRott discovered non-narrative performance while studying theater in Europe; and, seeing ribald Roman statuary all over Italy, was intrigued by the ancient god of revelry, leading to this production. The performance will take place in several spaces within the Villa Terrace, including the outdoor patios. The show will be a bit shorter than the original, and will feature a few new cast members, but it will still have Bill Webb‘s wonderful live score, based on ancient Greek harmonies, and tasty Mediterranean treats donated by Glorioso’s restaurant. “People will appreciate the changes we’ve made.” Rott says, smiling mischievously.

The battle of the gods continues. And when asked if he feels that, in our hyper-rational age, Apollo has finally won, Rott just grins and says “No.”

Bacchanalia runs at 7 p.m., September 22, 23 and 29-October 1 at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, 2220 N. Terrace Ave

Warning: Mature content. May not be suitable for audiences under the age of 15.

 Opening night is on the Autumnal Equinox, Sunday, September 22 and features a Mt. Olympus Gods and Goddesses party following the production with hors d’oeuvres by Gloriosos, music by The Elementals, and cash bar. $45.00 includes the play opening night, $40 for those wearing their best toga or god/goddess costume. General admission for following performances is $25, $20 for students/artists, available online or on-site.

Categories: Theater, Uncategorized

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