Add a Comment to this Note (list members only)
Dead medium: Riviere's Theatre d'ombres (Part Two)
From: (Bruce Sterling)

Source(s): *The Spirit of Montmartre: Cabarets, Humor and the Avant-Garde, 1875-1905* edited by Phillip Dennis Cate and Mary Shaw, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, The State University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1996
LC 95-81835

(((bruces remarks: this is the fourth and last note on Riviere's shadow theater. Please note that ASCII mutilates the French language, so that Riviere is Rivie're, Epopee is Epope'e, La Conquete de l'Algerie is La Conque^te de l'Alge'rie, and so forth.)))

page 60

"However, it was also Riviere's sophisticated technology that made the Chat Noir's protocinematic productions ephemeral. While zinc silhouettes and preparatory studies remain today, it is only be means of the printed, color facsimile albums of plays such as *La Tentation de Saint Antoine,* *La Marche a l'etoile,* *L'Enfant Prodigue (1894), and several others published at the time, and by means of the decorative programs designed by Auriol and Riviere that we can come close to understanding the content and visual impact of the Chat Noir's shadow plays."


page 63

"Over the years, thousands upon thousands of individuals viewed the Chat Noir's shadow theater productions: bohemians, aristocrats, politicians, generals, and members of the bourgeoisie sat side by side in the Salle des Fetes with artists, writers, actors and actresses, scientists, and adventurers.

"Beginning in 1888 with the Theatre d'Application on the rue St. Lazare, shadow theaters eventually spread to other locations in Paris as well as to other Montmartre cabarets, Le Conservatoire de Montmartre and Les Quat'z'Arts, in particular. In addition (...) Salis took his shadow theater company on the road to the provinces. In 1893 Somm, Steinlen, and Michel Utrillo traveled to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago to present their shadow plays. Thanks to Utrillo, by 1897 Barcelona's avant-garde (...) had its own shadow theater at Ils Quatre Gats, the *modernista* cabaret that took its name from both Le Chat Noir and Les Quat'z'Arts. (((During the Paris world's fair of 1900))) the journal *Le Rire* brought Montmartre shadow theater and humor to visitors around the world by installing on the fairgrounds along the Seine the Maison du Rire, which performed a repertoire of Chat Noir shadow plays and cabaret revues."

Bruce Sterling (