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A Mad, Burning Desire

August 21, 2019 @ 7:00 pm

Burning River Baroque Brings “A Mad, Burning Desire” to Yellow Springs

Thoughtfully-crafted programs inspired by the current social climate are once again at the heart of Cleveland-based Burning River Baroque’s upcoming season, which will shed light on unconventional 17th-century women and issues surrounding mental health. The group known for both their socially-motivated programming and dynamic interpretations will open their eighth season with a performance of “A Mad, Burning Desire” August 21 at the Yellow Springs Arts Council.

“A Mad, Burning Desire” highlights the extraordinary accomplishments of the first English actresses who gained the legal right to take the public stage in the early 1660s. Many of these women capitalized on early modern society’s fascination with mental illness and catapulted themselves to fame by portraying characters who descended violently into lovesick madness on the Restoration stage. English philosophers and medical experts alike began to think of psychological maladies as medical conditions requiring treatment by doctors rather than as spiritual deficiencies to be handled by religious authorities over the course of the seventeenth century. At the visual epicenter of London’s cultural fascination with madness was Bedlam, a facility that was transformed from a dilapidated hospital into a sprawling mental institution in 1676. Wealthy visitors regularly came to Bedlam to pay to be entertained by those society deemed insane. This cultural phenomenon of making a spectacle of the mentally ill converged with spectacular mad scenes that were brought to life by the first English actresses in the Restoration theater. “A Mad, Burning Desire” features the mad songs by Henry Purcell, John Eccles, Godfrey Finger and John Blow that captivated London’s theatre-going audiences in the 1690s.

Co-directors Paula Maust (harpsichord) and Malina Rauschenfels (soprano) will take audiences far beyond the music in these performances. Engaging dialogues with the audience about the ways the perception of mental health issues in the early modern period is directly related to the stigma surrounding mental health in contemporary times will challenge audience members to consider the ways we might address the mental health crises many are facing today.
Praised as a group that “left an indelible imprint on my psyche” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), Burning River Baroque brings diverse communities together through vibrant musical performances that inspire engaging dialogues and meaningful social change. You can experience “A Mad, Burning Desire” on August 21 at the Yellow Springs Arts Council at 7 p.m. Suggested donation $10-$20. More information at www.burning-river-baroque.org


August 21, 2019
7:00 pm


Yellow Springs Arts Council Gallery
111 Corry Street
Yellow Springs, OH 45387 United States
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