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The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether

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Theater for the New City
155 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009
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WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, Edgar Allan Poe's classic story of an insane asylum in southern France, has been adapted for the stage by Candice Burridge, David Zen Mansley and Jon Vomit. It is directed by Candice Burridge in Charles Adams-meets-Julie Taymor style, with dark, gothic imagery, a variety of shadow puppets, hand puppets and music by John Vomit of Strange Walls, a Goth Rock band. Poe's reputation as a humorist stands secure with The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether. A traveler to southern France is invited to a lavish dinner in an insane asylum where a quirky staff is famous for its "system of soothing," which avoids punishment and seldom applies confinement to the patients, allowing them to dress normally and wander the grounds at will. The attendants "humor" their patients by never contradicting their fantasies or hallucinations. Rather, if a man thought he was a chicken, doctors would treat him as a chicken, giving him corn to eat. The method, however, is about to be forsaken in favor of The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether. During an uncomfortable dinner, the staff regale the traveler with stories about patients they have known, like a lady who thought herself a chicken, a man a teapot, another a pumpkin, another a snuff box, etc. Amid this, Monsieur Maillard, the head of the institution, shares a remembrance of a lunatic who had once excited his fellows to rebellion. Suddenly the dinner is suddenly broken up and the asylum taken over by intruders whose feather coverings make them seem like orangutans. The attendants begin to act out in lunatic behaviors like the inmates they have been describing. It becomes clear that the head of the institution, Maillard himself, had lost his reason but not his wits, leading his patients into mischief. The lunatics had taken over the asylum, with the staff tarred and feathered.

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