The Bearded Ladies
SANDBOX Distinguished Visiting Artists for Fall 2015, the zany cabaret company worked with electronic sound artist Leslie Garcia to enhance their new show, “Bitter Homes and Gardens.”
The Bearded Ladies, an exuberant Philadelphia cabaret company—whose acclaimedcaba-play “Wide Awake” attracted capacity crowds at Washington College last year—returned at the end of September for three performances of their new outdoor extravaganza: “Bitter Homes and Gardens: A Botanical Hoedown.”
The show was performed on the lawn behind Hodson Hall Commons at Washington College on September 30, October 1, and October 2.
Inspired in part by a 2013 New Yorker essay, “The Intelligent Plant” by food writer Michael Pollan, the production features flowers, ferns, weeds and vegetables singing and dancing their way through the big questions that face our plant brethren. Not the least of those questions, says director Sally Ollove, is: “If plants had voices, what would they sing?”
The Bearded Ladies collaborated with internationally renowned Mexican artist Leslie Garcia, who has worked to give “voice” to plants using electronic devices that turn their reactions to touch, noise, light, water, and other stimuli into amazing and consistently expressive sounds.
Emceed by Jebediah Eatin-Good, a genetically modified plant one Philadelphia reviewer likened to a cross between Mike Huckabee and an ear of corn, the production incorporates the music of artists ranging from Bill Withers, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits to RaeLynn, the Andrews Sisters and Faith Hill, as well as original songs by resident composer Heath Allen, all played by a three-person band made up of accordion, fiddle/banjo, and sousaphone.
Playing the plants are Rebecca Kanach, Kate Raines, Kristen Bailey and John Jarboe. Organized by SANDBOX, the College’s interdisciplinary program fostering creativity in the environment, the Bearded Ladies’ residency is co-sponsored by the Department of Theatre and Dance and the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.
SANDBOX Director Alex Castro says the production “just shouldn’t be missed. The Bearded Ladies are provocative, challenging, and great fun, lampooning science and art in this hilarious musical tribute to our distant greeny relatives who try their hardest to speak to us.
“Leslie Garcia, who actually ‘listens’ to plants’ emanations electronically, will be frolicking along with the Cabaret for this special Washington College iteration of the production,” Castro continues. “All in all, it will be a rousing tribute to the imaginative energy inherent in the art/science mix.”
“We are so excited to be part of the return of the great Bearded Ladies,” says Michele Volansky, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance. “Their sense of play and style of storytelling is something we just love and admire so much.”
“As with all the Bearded Ladies’ productions, ‘Bitter Homes and Gardens’ is full of sly, provocative commentary on contemporary culture,” adds Adam Goodheart, the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center. “It’s also utterly ridiculous.”
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The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, founded at the College in 2000, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture and politics, and fosters excellence int he art of written history through fellowships, prizes, and student programs. (www.washcoll.edu/centers/starr)