Arts Seen – week of Oct. 31 2013

Crime murder revenge horror evil — two local stages reveal a darker side of humanity this week which is perfect timing for fans of Halloween who prefer killer clowns and corpse brides to fairies and superheroes.

Organized Crime Productions is presenting a triple bill including the classic Grand Guignol horror play Crime in the Madhouse (pictured) by André de Lorde. The play takes place in a lunatic asylum where a young girl named Louise finds herself confined in a room next to two hideous women who plan to release the cuckoo bird they believe is behind her eyes. The other plays on the bill are Maurice Level’s revenge play Final Kiss and Georges Courteline’s These Cornfields a violent farce. Théâtre du Grand Guignol in Paris once known as “the greatest horror show on earth” achieved a legendary reputation for such explicit violence that a resident doctor was employed to treat the numerous spectators who fainted each night according to producer and director Alice Nelson. The goal was to terrify and titillate the spectator through a mixture of horror laughter and the erotic that exploited their fears taboos and desires. Nelson started Organized Crime Productions less than one year ago and says she hopes to do an annual Halloween show in the Grand Guignol style as well as to stage controversial shows social awareness shows and tell the stories of the underdogs. The shows run until November 2 at the Birds and Stone Theatre.

At the Jubilee Auditorium Alberta Ballet is presenting a dark and twisted version of the traditional fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. Acclaimed choreographer Mats Ek who is known for his black humour created the contemporary version in 1996 for the Hamburg Ballet. In this story Princess Aurora is a rebellious teen who has been seduced by heroin and her evil drug dealer has no intention of saving her. Set to Tchaikovsky’s score and performed by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal the ballet explores death love jealousy and revenge — happily ever after doesn’t come easily for this princess. Sleeping Beauty runs from October 31 to November 3 ( albertaballet.com ).

Once Halloween is over it’s never too early to start searching for new and unusual ideas for next year’s costume. For inspiration check out comic and Bible scholar Peterson Toscano ’s Jesus had Two Daddies a performance that explores the 17 years he attempted to alter his sexuality through gay conversion therapy. Toscano an American Quaker spent 17 years and over $30000 on three continents as he attempted to change from gay to straight. That didn’t work but it did provide material for the one-man shows he has since presented throughout North America and Europe. In Jesus had Two Daddies Toscano promises to reveal the “many gender non-conforming characters he has discovered in the Bible” — so there you go Halloween 2014 is covered. The performance takes place Tuesday November 5 at the Hillhurst United Church ( hillhurstunited.com ).