SOURCE: Festival of Arts

Festival of Arts

November 16, 2009 17:45 ET

Pageant Director Invites Everyone to "Eat, Drink and Be Merry" in 2010

LAGUNA BEACH, CA--(Marketwire - November 16, 2009) - In search of inspiration for the 2010 Pageant of the Masters, Laguna's world-famous celebration of art in tableaux vivants -- "living pictures" -- Director Diane Challis Davy needed to look no further than the backstage cast patio of the Irvine Bowl. There, every night during the sold-out run of this past summer's Pageant, "The Muse," the assembled volunteers who perform in the cast and help out in virtually every aspect of backstage production were having a blast. Laughter was abundant, potlucks were frequent and the good will was contagious.

There are many reasons the Pageant's intensely loyal volunteers keep coming back to make the survival and success of this 77-year-old summer institution an annual tradition, but the number one rationale is that it's fun. And if the 2010 production, "Eat, Drink and Be Merry," has one goal, it's to share that sense of exuberant joy reflected in breathtaking re-creations of inspirational artworks.

Actually, Director Challis Davy had the theme for the 2010 Pageant in mind long before this past summer; in fact, long before, as she noted, "The economy went south." But with economic uncertainty on everyone's mind, the value and relevance of a theme that acknowledges humanity's unique capacity for resilience is apparent. "In tough times," Challis Davy stated, "most of us could use some art entertainment that's just for the fun of it."

The director, now in her 15th year, has been aided in her search for artworks to include in the 2010 Pageant by suggestions from the nearly 80 volunteers on her research committee and by veteran scriptwriter Dan Duling, who observed, "It's a well-documented fact artists have always known how to party. And some of the most glorious art ever created has been devoted to expressing the sheer pleasure of being alive."

When asked about the artists whose works will be included in "Eat, Drink and Be Merry," Challis Davy first cited a classic Dutch master. "I love Jan Steen's pictures," she said. "He was a very accomplished and prolific painter, especially for a fellow who grew up in and spent most of his life in a bar!" Next summer's Pageant will also travel the world in search of artworks that reflect our collective capacity for seizing the moment, letting our hair down and raising a heartfelt toast to the good life. Along the way, parallels will be drawn between the elegant fetes of 17th century France and the all-night parties of the Jazz Age. And timeless masterpieces from eras as diverse as classical antiquity, Japan's "floating world" and the Wild West, will reveal how art has enhanced mankind's capacity for celebration both when times were good and when times were hard, evidenced in a contrasting meditation on the response of artists to the Great Depression.

One thing is certain: "Eat, Drink and Be Merry" will require a very large cast of all ages, and Challis Davy is already looking forward to the annual open casting calls in January where volunteers sign up, get their photos and measurements on file, and wait to hear if they'll be part of the Pageant again next summer. Last year, nearly 1,200 people turned out.

When asked about any special surprises she might have in store for 2010, Challis Davy noted she's considering a tribute to Mardi Gras that might even involve a little audience participation. But, it's the participation backstage that really inspires her.

"We love to party. Thanks to the camaraderie of workers and volunteers, every year is a great adventure!"

The Pageant of the Masters will be performed nightly from Wednesday, July 7, through Tuesday, August 31, with the 12th annual Celebrity Gala Benefit Performance to be held on Saturday, August 28. Tickets for "Eat, Drink and Be Merry," the 2010 Pageant of the Masters, go on sale to the general public on December 1st. For further information, call 949-497-6852, or toll free 800-487-3378.

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