Tag Archives: opera

Ben Katchor’s Opera Reviewed in the New York Times

slug bearers shot

The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island (Or, the Friends of Dr. Rushower), an opera created by Associate Professor of Illustration Ben Katchor and Mark Mulcahy, received an enthusiastic review by New York Times’ critic Ben Brantley yesterday. Here’s an excerpt:

“The Slug Bearers” may deal with subjects common to contemporary satire: fiendish industrial autocrats (in this case, the cackling George Klatter, played by a Lex Luthor-like Stephen Lee Anderson); shortsighted do-gooders; the limited attention span of news gatherers; and the (literal) insubstantiality of a technology-driven culture.

But Mr. Katchor is not an attack artist, and “The Slug Bearers” is neither sendup nor angry social rebuke.

Instead, like much of this artist’s work, it is propelled by a brooding and amused awareness of the strange, individual quirks and appetites that both keep people apart and occasionally bring them together.

This sensibility is conveyed with real enchantment by the set and projection designs of Jim Findlay and Jeff Sugg (subtly enhanced by Russell H. Champa’s lighting), which bring to eye-teasing life Mr. Katchor’s drawings of lonely town (as in New York City) and polluted country (as in the tropical isle of Kayrol). Projections on scrims are used to create some delightful trompe l’oeil moments involving walking amid street traffic, riding elevators and even answering the phone.

These are never mere sight gags, though, but part of a thoroughgoing mise-en-scène that melts boundaries between the real and representational. At the same time there’s a strong, melancholy suggestion that the people who inhabit this flat but fluid landscape can never fully step into the world they live in. (And I mean the characters, not the performers.)

Read the complete review here, listen to a narrated slideshow about the opera’s development here, and as an extra bonus, we present you with a small preview of the show:


The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island (Or, the Friends of Dr. Rushower)
An Opera by Ben Katchor and Mark Mulcahy
Vineyard Theater
108 E. 15th St (btw Union Square and Irving Pl.)
New York, NY

[image by Carol Rosegg]

Ben Katchor in New York Magazine

slug bearers

Illustration Associate Professor Ben Katchor got interviewed for New York Magazine recently. He talked about the development of his new opera with Mark Mulcahy, The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island. Here’s a snippet:

As a cartoonist working in theater, how would you compare the two?
Comics are an economical way to figure out stories. There are zero expenses. You just need a place to live. Whereas theater is the most luxurious art form that there is: You need live actors, and everyone has to show up at a certain time and do a lot of rehearsing. Are they going to catch a cold that day? Are they going to show up? You realize how fragile all of it is. But it’s a great thing. When you’re watching a great actor try to figure out his scene, it’s like watching a cartoonist making a drawing, but they’re doing it somehow with their body. It’s amazing.

How would you sum up the play for someone who hasn’t seen it?
It’s an absurdist romance. It’s about the romance of poetry and humanitarianism.

The show also seems to be making a statement about consumerism.
There is a trend in the world now toward the immaterial — with people digitizing books and making tiny portable electronic devices. But if you want to make table phones and toasters, they need to be augmented artificially. The weight needs to be augmented. There is nothing physically to them, they’re just little microchips and plastic casings. We’re at this strange point in time where a lot of life we’d like to have miniaturized so we can carry a library in our pocket. But on the other hand, we still have hands and physical bodies, and we need to deal with the physical world. It’s a dilemma of technology.

Catch the rest of Ben’s interview here and see here for more information about The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island.

Illustration Full-Time Faculty Ben Katchor’s New Opera!

slug bearers
Purchase 30%+ discount seats online here:
or, phone box office (212-353-0303) and mention the code BB40SB
Ticket discount valid for performances thru 3/2/08 only.
Phone and online orders are subject to regular service charges.
This offer not valid on previously purchased tickets, is subject to availability and may be revoked at any time.