Our friends offered us covet-worthy tickets to Pageant of the Masters, a seasonal event at the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts. Naturally, we said thank you and YES! We shared a wonderful evening together, and oh, I do wish you could have joined us!
Imagine, if you will, the setting: an outdoor amphitheater, tucked into a canyon abutting one of California’s most spectacular beaches. The air is salty, and a brilliant moon is rising above an adjacent hillside. Add a large-ish cast of locals—bewigged, costumed, and painted with theatrical makeup, and then situated into several life-sized re-creations of classical and contemporary art pieces. Blend into this lovely mixture a professional orchestra, intricate lighting, and live narration, and you’ll come close to picturing the Pageant of the Masters. Close, but not exactly. You still need a sprinkling of magic.
Hey, Mister, would you mind sharing those donuts?
A long-time favorite of tourists and locals, Pageant of the Masters takes its cue from an ancient art tradition known as tableaux vivants, or “living pictures.” Its roots are in the Middle Ages, a time when tableaux vivants were created for church celebrations, royal weddings and coronations. It had a resurgence of popularity in the 19th century, perhaps because the models frequently posed in the nude. (Anyone remember Lily Bart, the fictional nude model in Edith Wharton’s novel, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH?)
Did someone say "party"?
This year’s theme, "Eat, Drink & Be Merry," was well represented in the program lineup. Several masterpieces helped illustrate mankind’s ability to triumph over adversity; others mirrored the glories of everyday moments. There’s no way to describe it, really, other than to say that it was a feast for all senses. Carpe diem was my take-away. That, and a lovely reminder of the infinite ways in which art (in all its forms) helps nourish the human spirit.
Pictures via Stage and Cinema. Information gleaned from the program and the evening’s narration.