GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. – Performance artist and local hero, Heather Fisch wants you to know that her newest live theater show, “Blue Venice,” is sexy. But, we’re not talking about run-of-the mill T&A here, this show pushes the envelope of expression.
“If you like sex, local people and artsy representations of soul loss,” says Fisch, “then this show is for you.”
“Blue Venice” is part rock opera, part grief catharsis, and part boundary-pushing live theater experience. Premiering at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Aug. 31, the show is beautiful, funny, and penetrating. Viewers are challenged to access their deepest selves while cradled by the safety net of comedic absurdism.
“Based on the psychological construct of the Seven Stages of Grief, the show brings viewers through all the stages,” says Fisch. “And along the way, people recognize their own experiences of living through those stages, while in the past or the present.”
The story follows a young man who embarks on a vision quest, and finds himself thrust into the delirious and shadowy world of Blue Venice – a fantastical realm ruled by the tyrannical Rat King and the icy blue Snow Queen. On this whimsical and nightmarish adventure, the young man encounters Cupid, Venus de Milo and countless other outlandish characters, including seven alluring maidens of fertility – “Wait till you see them!” adds Fisch.
Creating the full score of original live music was a collaborative effort between Fisch and internationally renowned composer and musician Jonathan Talbot. An 8-piece orchestra and choral ensemble produce haunting melodies and euphonic textures that fill the theater with vivid emotion.
Elaborate and surreal set pieces and ornate over-the-top costumes, channeling the work of Dorothea Tanning, impart a richness that is sensual, tactile and gritty. With the help of accomplished costumer George Veale, head of Bard College at Simon’s Rock’s costume department, Fisch has created an awe-inspiring visual masterpiece with “Blue Venice.”
Indeed, much of Fisch’s work is characterized by her homage to Tanning and the old vaudevillian style.
“I like the realness in vaudeville,” says Fisch, “with its frayed edges. It pre-dates the plastic-y, airbrushed un-reality of today’s typical entertainment.”
And in “Blue Venice,” Fisch uses the distance fantasy allows to draw viewers and players closer the realness and rawness of human experience.