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The Hysterical Alphabet: a multimedia history

The Hysterical Alphabet: a multimedia history Produced by Theater Oobleck. A history of hysteria delivered with humor and critical insight.

Date: Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Time: 8:00 pm

Duration: 1 hour

Location: Nourse Little Theater

Contact: Laurel Bradley, Art Gallery

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The Hysterical Alphabet: a multimedia history           

Produced by Theater Oobleck

A live, 70-minute, Audio-Visual Performance

Hysterical historia. Historical hysteria. The ABCs are seized by a convulsive fit in Terri Kapsalis' The Hysterical Alphabet, each letter introducing an episode direct from the annals of medical lore. Backed by Danny Thompson's disqueting film collages and John Corbett's vinyl manipulations, The Hysterical Alphabet tracks centuries of female malady, disproving the theory that time heals all wounds. 

Hysteria is an under-recognized (and under-appreciated!) 4,000-year history that deeply inflects contemporary ideas about gender and illness. Hysteria is revealed as cultural symbol in Greek myths, psychoanalytic texts, medical paraphernalia, films and elsewhere. The Hysterical Alphabet, drawing from very old and very new medical writings, offers a condensed history of the term, leavened with critical insights and a playful spirit.

Performer's Bios:

John Corbett
(sound) is a writer, sound-artist, and curator. He teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is the co-director of the art gallery Corbett vs. Dempsey. In 2002, Corbett served as Artistic Director of JazzFest Berlin, and he co-curated the Empty Bottle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music for nine years. He is the producer of the Unheard Music Series, an archival program dedicated to creative music issues and re-issues, and he is the author of Extended Play: Sounding off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein (Duke, 1994).

Terri Kapsalis (voice/sound), artist, critic, and scholar, is the author of Public Privates: Performing Gynecology from Both Ends of the Speculum (Duke University Press) which Kapsalis imagines is the only book ever to have been reviewed by the New England Journal of Medicine, The Village Voice, and The Amateur Gynecologist (a medical fetishist website). She is a founding member of Theater Oobleck and has performed in 15 Oobleck productions. She teaches at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago. An improvising violinist, Kapsalis also writes fiction.

Danny Thompson (video/voice) is a founding member of Theater Oobleck, for which he has written too many plays, including "Necessity," and "The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett as Found in an Envelope (Partially Burned) in a Dustbin in Paris Labeled "Never to be Performed. Never. Ever. Ever. Or I'll Sue! I'll Sue from the Grave!!!," which received awards at the 2000 New York Fringe Festival, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. He currently lives in Worcester, MA.