Sunday, May 24, 2015

Jim Dine's Short Sharp Shock

Jim Dine created an unusually disturbing poster for the New York City Center Gilbert and Sullivan Company's 1968 season. The poster's graphics recall the threatened beheading that is central to the plot of "The Mikado" (1885), although the image's tone is more chilling and less amusing than what is presented onstage. "The Mikado," set in the fictitious Japanese town of Titipu, is one of five comic operas that was performed at City Center in April and May of that year. "Yeomen of the Guard," which was also presented, has a potential beheading in its plot as well.

Jim Dine, City Center - Gilbert & Sullivan, 1968, 22/144

A limited edition copy of this poster is offered at Skinner:
Skinner Listing Closing June 1, 2015

Of course, "The Mikado" actually deals with the morbid subject of beheading rather lightly. Here Pooh-Bah, Ko-Ko, and Pish-Tush contemplate which one of them must be sacrificed by beheading in order to comply with the Mikado's stern decree:

"I Am So Proud" from "The Mikado" (1885) by Gilbert & Sullivan
Stratford Festival, 1982
Richard McMillan as Pooh-Bah
Eric Donkin as Ko-Ko
Alan Stewart-Coates as Pish-Tush
Conducted by Berthold Carriere

This 1968 Playbill cover illustrates a scene from "The Pirates of Penzance," one of the five Gilbert and Sullivan works performed by City Center's Gilbert and Sullivan Company. In contrast to the poster, the lighthearted tone of this illustration seems more in keeping with the spirit of the plays.
Playbill, City Center Gilbert & Sullivan Company, 1968

The five works performed by the New York City Center Gilbert and Sullivan Company in the spring of 1968:
From The Complete Book of 1960s Broadway Musicals by Dan Dietz, Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. Appendix F:  Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas

Note:  See my other blog posts about Jim Dine.

There are a few posts here about Gilbert and Sullivan as well.

Can anyone identify the photo used by Jim Dine in the poster? How about the illustrator of the Playbill cover?


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