The Experimental Cabaret is finished, long live the Experimental Cabaret!
Nicole Peyrafitte announced that after 2 years the Experimental Cabaret will be no more. Held on the 2nd Monday (usually) of the month at Tess' Lark Tavern (Madison Ave., Albany), Nicole presented a variety of multi-media productions with musicians, painters, dancers, puppets, poets, acrobats, typists, even a nursing mom. It even started on time. You can find an archive of the performances at www.nicolepeyrafitte.com/experimentalcabaret/.
Tonight was the last & like a rock music critic I snagged the playlist (which actually matches my notes). Nicole featured herself (as well she should) & the works of poet/anthologist/translator, etc. Pierre Joris, with bass acrobat Mike Bisio throughout. Nicole began with her signature piece "Things Fall Where They LIe" -- it's on her CD, la garbure transcontinentale (visit the website, www.nicolepeyrafitte.com for information).
Pablo Picasso is one of the most famous of 20th Century painters, but he wanted to be known as a poet (don't we all!). Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris have overseen a project to translate the majority of Picasso's poetic writing into English for the first time. The result is The Burial of the Count of Orgaz & Other Poems edited with Introductions by Jerome Rothenberg & Pierre Joris, and afterword by Michel Leiris. As Pierre read some of Picasso's prose poem journal entries from 1936, images of the handwritten text were projected behind him, across his black shirt & the white paper, like he was immersed in the text, himself written on.
As with the text from Picasso, Pierre keeps introducing us to poets we don't know about but should, must. So next he read a series of short, almost tiny, poems by the Luxembourg poet, Anise Koltz, like:
I am looking for a baptismal font
to hand back my name
to drown it
in its holy water
I take original
sin upon me
like a force
that makes me invulnerable
Back to Nicole, who did the extended version of "The Dragon Land Bakery" (also on her CD) with the full version of the film by her son Joseph Mastantuono. But on the CD you won't hear Mike Bisio who was given room to stretch out his version of stretching those thick bass strings. I mean, he could be distracting while trying to watch a film at the same time, he literally dances with that wooden honey of his.
After the break Pierre came back with Mike & read from "Lemur Mornings" (from his book Turbulence, St. Lazaire Press, 1991). He continued into "Hands of Gargas", crouched over a light box that contained a video camera focused on his hands as he read the poem. The image of his gesturing hands was projected on the screen with images from the cave of the prints of hands about which he was reading, mano a mano. It was perhaps the best combination of images & words (with "Dragon Land Bakery") of the night.
Then Nicole closed, fittingly enough, with a "Karaoke" version of Piaf's "Non Rien de Rien", with Mike playing along.
She has had a good run with the Experimental Cabaret. I've been privileged to perform a couple times, once with a slide/poem performance of my work & from 3 Guys from Albany, & more recently with Nicole doing poems by Iraqi poets. But we expect her back. And check out Mike Bisio whenever you can. There is a link to Pierre's blog at the very bottom of this site -- check it out too.