A Musical One Act in Two Worlds
In the early morning hours of March, 1899, after his standard practice of excessive cavorting, the French artist Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, passes out in a gutter and is kidnapped. Three days later he awakes to imprisonment in the Chateau St. James, an asylum on the outskirts of Paris.
Lautrec at the St. James almost entirely takes place in the asylum, where the lines between hallucination and reality, beauty and blemish, are continuously blurred. Where Lautrec confronts the fear of losing his artistic ability: the truest form of love he knows, or believes he knows. Standing only five feet tall, disproportioned, and odd in appearance, Lautrec states, “We are born into whatever we are born into. Me this, them that.” (Suggesting the prostitutes and curious entertainers he feels an alliance and devotion to.) In this era known as Belle Epoque, a decadent period of mass entertainment, Lautrec is a pop culture celebrity, the Andy Warhol of his time, a master artist, and an oddity – he lives the urgency of both proving himself and finding himself, and in doing so, begins to uncover the many forms in which love might exist.