21 March 2012

The Vivian Girls: A Play with Music.

Admit it: you have been waiting for a musical about Henry Darger, too. If you donate to this Kickstarter project, you might just get to see and hear one.

Henry Darger was born in Illinois in 1892 and died in 1973. An orphan, he worked as a janitor and lived as a recluse during his long life, attending Catholic mass every day. After his death, his landlord discovered in Darger's apartment a cache of hundreds of paintings, journals, and manuscript narratives, including The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, an illustrated prose narrative that ran over 15,000 pages.

By Darger standards, this is not even close to weird.

The video for the musical play's Kickstarter page runs too long (seven minutes), and the song lyrics muddy the creators' interviews, but let's not quibble. Henry Darger would have made a seven-hour Kickstarter video, starring only his mumbling self, featuring paintings of nude intersex children riding to war on butterfly space-dragons, set to music that he played on instruments made of tin he scrounged from garbage dumps. Then he would not have even uploaded it to the Internet, but instead left it for his landlord to find.

These artists are insiders, but let's not hold that against them.

This musical commemorates the work and life of a man who lived in a major city, in the most technologically advanced country on Earth (for its time), and who belonged to its dominant ethnic group (white), yet who had the ill fortune to lack the economic and cultural resources to channel his talents into normative routes like professional illustration, commercial writing, or high art. Help playwright Stacy Sims celebrate the work of this outsider.

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