Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Art and Horror of ‘Phantasmagoria’ was at Valencia College.


A multi-media art exhibit brought the spirit of a Victorian-era, Steampunk-influenced Halloween opened at Valencia College’s East Campus on Oct. 3 for a one-week run. “The Art and Horror of ‘Phantasmagoria’: Puppetry, Photography, Costumes, Props and Video” offered an inside peek at the magic behind “Phantasmagoria,” a critically-acclaimed stage production that director John DiDonna describes as “a graphic novel come to life.” Five years ago, “Phantasmagoria” began as an evening of horror stories told by local actors dressed in clothing from the late 1880s. Today, the production has evolved into a sort of Gothic soap opera, with recurring characters who appear year after year.

The exhibit also included Phantasmagoria-related works by prominent local and international artists, including paintings by Thomas Thorspecken and photographs by Kristen Wheeler and Beaureguarde Von Hoffman. The exhibit was on display at Valencia’s Anita S. Wooten Gallery.I went to the opening reception and was immediately drawn to the Punch and Judy styled puppets on display. Some people at the opening were dressed in Victorian Steampunk fashions and they weren't even part of the Phantasmagoria cast. Members of the cast did mingle mysteriously at the opening and then they waltzed to music that only they could hear. Giant skulls and bones hung from the ceiling and a ghostly figure hoovered in the corner.

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