Saturday, April 30, 2011

Late to Alacartoona, but not really

Last night I watched Alacartoona’s film Night is the Mirror. I suppose we remember Alacartoona as a band; the title for a collection of musicians. Having never seen Alacartoona, you could say I’m quite late and naively new to this, now no more, phenomenon. The film transported me somewhere, not to the forgotten cabaret as the trailer suggests, but rather to Prague and Dresden around 1969 when I was a young student (a year after the “Prague Spring”), to the film “Unbearable Lightness of Being” which made sense to me much later, explaining more about what I saw and felt.

In Dresden (then East Germany), I saw my first Theatre of the Absurd-like play. In Prague, saw a few interesting cabaret shows. Since all this was in foreign languages, and my German at the time was marginal, it was hard to figure out the verbal bits. My friends helped me out with that but the visuals and music, the atmosphere seemed really cool, and cerebral; a word I didn’t know at the time.

That’s where “Night in the Mirror” took me…back, then forward again, then into the film (1988) “Unbearable…” and then to the book (1985-ish) which I dove into later.

I know the four artists of Alacartoona no longer perform, but the concept seems an important one to sustain. In watching the film, I felt compelled to translate some of it into German (even French). The context would fit well in the city of Strasbourg, France (Alsace) which is a culturally complex place with French and German swirling like a blender that doesn’t always blend well…conflicted. What would happen if this concept could reside in a context where it could really shine? I know lots of Kansas City folks saw it, enjoyed the performances, and “got it”, with all its delicious edges. But to me, this deserves translation, and exportation…back home. I envision seeing this in Berlin, Prague, Strasbourg, and Vienna. I hear this in German, French, and Czech colloquial, spoken music.

Alacartoona…four artists who it feels are four sides (or more) of our faceted intellects, the puppeteer with the spotlight, and the amazing cartoon painter could perhaps, over lunch in a dark edgy joint, consider reconstituting this…concept…with French and German performers, a translated script(s), and a plan for export. Alacartoona lives…every night, it seems.

Sorry for being late on this…show?...concept? ain't over, folks :-)

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