“There’s a kind of magic in the material of things. Don’t you think?”
This was the sixth Rogue Artists Ensemble production I’ve been to and it definitely did not disappoint. The Rogues are phenomenal at their art of puppetry, masks, and “hyper-theater.” While implementing such jarring and intricate imagery, their stories also always have so much heart. The deeper themes in each production seep through the eeriness to create something beautiful and fascinating. As the gentlemen next to me at the show said, their shows are always like a “delightful acid trip.” I couldn’t agree more.
When I saw that one of my favorite musicals was going to be performed in Thousand Oaks, I just had to go.
Into the Woods, written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, was put on by Young Artists Ensemble and held inside the black box theatre at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts. Hillcrest Center is nestled on the side of a hill that overlooks Thousand Oaks and provides a stunning view. The Conejo Recreation & Park District sits alongside the Center for the Arts.
Sensual: the senses being fully engaged. Sexual: of or pertaining to sex.
Songs of Bilitis exists in the realm between these two words.
I had the pleasure of enjoying yet another one of Rogue Artists Ensemble’s amazing productions, performed at the Bootleg Theater in LA, making this post both a journalism article and a theater review. Songs of Bilitis is about a French poet named Pierre Louÿs (played by Christopher Rivas) whose muse comes to him while he is traveling in Algeria around the turn of the century. It is the true story about a writer who wrote a counterfeit erotic book of poetry, claiming he was translating it from the Greek. Rogue’s signature use of masks, puppetry, and multimedia was demonstrated in their performance just as strongly as in their previous ones I have seen. The way they use sound and video projection is so innovative and translates beautifully onto the stage. I enjoyed how comfortable the cast was with their bodies and I loved the fluidity of the movement and the organic and raw nature of the performance. They captured the life of a tormented poet from the past so elegantly and with such emotion that it surpassed theater and entered the hearts of the audience.