Hey, it’s the final Le Chat Noir post! We end with the amazing Shadow Theatre.
Imagine walking upstairs into a massive smoky room. Pearls of laughter and fierce discussions about the arts echo throughout it. Then on the stage, a host of shadows grace the stage. But it’s not a mere shadow puppet display you might put on with your siblings. They’re massive puppets of armies with intricate detail. The 2-D surface looks like it goes on for miles. The puppets play out wars and romance and revolutions.
Artistic groups sprang from the cabarets of Montmartre. Two of these were the Incohérents and the Hydropathes. I had never heard of them before researching this topic. Likely because they’re both seminal groups for more famous movements like the Dadaists. Also because most of the information about them is in French. (I am not fluent.) But they’re an interesting bunch.
In the cabaret class lines blurred. Members of higher classes wiggled into Montmartre to witness the raucous neighbourhood. They’d take part in the debauchery at a cabaret for a night. And then return to their own respectable homes.
Parisians could let their hair down at the cabarets in Montmartre. Upper-class Parisians dipped their toes into these freeing waters. Whether it was seeing sexy Can-Can dancers or raucous songs. Cabarets daringly made fun of bourgeoisie institutions. And they ate it up.
Ah, this one takes me back. My favourite professor got in touch with me recently and inspired me to revisit this subject. Also, I’m going to see Theophile Steinlen’s cats in Richmond soon. You know the sign by Steinlein. But do you know it’s history? It’s vast, it’s strange, and it’s often overlooked.