Sleep in a Nest
  of Flames
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A Sentimental Playlet

Set for A Sentimental Playlet

The literary and art magazine View (1940-1947) was founded, published and edited by Charles Henri Ford. It would often sponsor avant-garde events; theater, film and on several occasions puppetry, were the products of these efforts. A Sentimental Playlet was a Surrealist play; written by Ford, with music by Paul Bowles and puppets designed by the Swiss Surrealist artist Kurt Seligmann. It is the story of Enid whose lover, Roger,a sailor, goes away. A character identified only as "The Poet" uses words and trickery to confuse her as to her true feelings. Roger returns at the last minute to make his claim on her and whisks her away into a dance. It was performed at Spivy's Roof nightclub in New York City, in June of 1946.

For Sleep in a Nest of Flames we reinterpret the play performed over fifty years ago. Our puppets were inspired by the Seligmann originals and we provide a surrealist set that helps open up the action of this remarkable piece. Most of the original music is lost, however, a period recording of the "Sailor's Song" by Paul Bowles was provided to us by the composer. For the bulk of the music we use "Concerto for Two Pianos, Winds and Percussion" of 1946 by Bowles. To give a context to this sequence, we break in the middle and the scholar/filmmaker Regina Weinreich puts the event in context. Weinreich is the director of the award-winning documentary Paul Bowles: the Complete Outsider.

Taken as a whole, the puppet play presents not only a demonstration of Surrealism and its relation to high camp, but also how various arts were cross-fertilized in this experimental period.

"The Poet"



photos by James Dowell


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