P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2002
December 14, 2002
Ben Katchor and Mark Mulcahy Team up to Present a Tragicomedy for Music Theater at MASS MoCA
(North Adams, Mass.) On January 17 and 18 at 7:30 P.M., following a two-week residency at MASS MoCA, cartoonist Ben Katchor and musician Mark Mulcahy (of Miracle Legion) present a work-in-progress showing of their new work entitled The SlugBearers of Kayrol Island or The Friends of Dr. Rushower. The piece, which the artists describe as a "tragicomedy for music-theater," features libretto and sets (projected drawings and animation) by Katchor and music by Mulcahy. The New York Times calls MacArthur Award-winner Katchor "the most poetic, deeply layered artist ever to draw a comic strip," while London's Guardian says of Mulcahy, "He has an incredible voice, an instrument that can be sculpted like soft clay."
In typical Katchor style, the story is quirky and complex. The slug bearers of the title are poorly paid stevedores on Kayrol Island who must carry on their backs lead weights (used to augment the weight of small appliances to give the consumer the impression of heft and material worth) from dock to inland rail. The plight of the slugbearers is slowly made public through newspaper and television reports.
Meanwhile, another character, Immanuel Lubang (an aficionado of "consumer fiction" -- the "poetry" of the modern instructional pamphlet), is drawn into the social world of Dr. Rushower, a wealthy philanthropist, one evening by chance. He is introduced to Rushower's daughter, Gingin -- one of a growing number of young people whose pleasure in small appliances has been marred by the knowledge of the conditions under which they are produced. Beneath the stated philanthropic purposes of the society of The Friends of Dr. Rushower is the doctor's fervent hope to find, among the ever-growing membership, a companion for his unmarried daughter.
At their annual meeting The Friends of Dr. Rushower decide that a missionary expedition, under the direction of Immanuel and Gingin, will go to Kayrol Island to introduce the slug-bearers to the rich poetry of "consumer fiction" in an attempt to give their suffering meaning and justification. The expedition is a failure as the slugbearers fail to respond to consumer fiction, but Gingin, who has fallen in love with one of the slugbearers, decides to remain behind. Although the mission is a failure, Rushower is somewhat pleased that his daughter has finally found happiness on that distant island.
The work involves four singers, a live amplified quartet, and projections of drawings, both in sequence and full animation.
Katchor is the creator of Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer and the best-selling comic strip novel, The Jew of New York. His work has won him awards, national syndication and a huge cult following. In addition to the 2000 MacArthur Fellowship, he is the recipient of the Guna S. Mundheim fellowship in Visual Arts at The American Academy in Berlin, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Obie Award for Best New American Production (libretto and drawings) for The Carbon Copy Building. In 1996, Katchor co-produced a series of radio-dramas for National Public Radio. He produces a weekly newspaper comic strip entitled Hotel & Farm which appears in a dozen cities, and his monthly comic strip on architecture and design appears in Metropolis Magazine. He currently teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and does extensive lecturing at museums and universities. He was the subject of a full-length profile in the New Yorker magazine by Lawrence Weschler.
Mark Mulcahy is the composer and producer of The Slug bearers and performs as a singer and musician. He lives in Springfield, Massachusetts, and is a former member of Miracle Legion. He has toured extensively as a solo performer throughout the world, including the Rough Trade 25th Anniversary Festival at Union Chapel, London. He has written and performed many themes for film and television, including music for The Adventures of Pete and Pete. The Sunday Republican says, "With a voice that falls somewhere between the Buckleys and the Wainwrights, Mulcahy offers a captivating, low-key approach, twisting lyrics in unexpected directions."
The showing is part of MASS MoCA's Mass Manufacturing series which will also feature a showing by DJ Spooky of his work-in-progress Rebirth of a Nation on Friday, February 28. Dance/theater residencies and work-in-progress showings are made possible by the Bari Lipp Initiative for Dance and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency).
Tickets for The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island or the Friends of Dr. Rushower are $12. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
MASS MoCA 1040 MASS MoCA Way North Adams, MA 01247 413.MOCA.111 www.massmoca.org
For Immediate Release