Theatre Bizarre: Past, Present and Future

“It’s magic. It’s the only thing that’s held its magic for me, at least; all the way through my life and trying to play with that magic and that alchemy to create something that no one has ever seen. It is like alchemy – throwing all these mixtures of things together and hoping to produce something greater than its whole, and Halloween has always held that for me.” – John Dunivant, chief artist and co-creator of Theatre Bizarre (speaking about Halloween)

On Saturday, the dark carnival of Detroit’s Theatre Bizarre will open up a new venue – the Masonic Temple – and a new storyline with “The Initiation”.

Working with the imagery and whispers that swirl around secret societies, Theatre Bizarre’s chief artist and co-creator John Dunivant is creating a new narrative to progress what he calls “the Greatest Masquerade on Earth”.

Last week, WDET’s Rob St. Mary had a chance to talk to Dunivant at the Theatre Bizarre grounds as he was working to developing site specific art and installations for this year’s gathering at the Masonic Temple.

Dunivant says Theatre Bizarre will take over seven floors of the historic building including several private rooms that the public has never been allowed to enter. Dunivant says the Masonic Temple will expand the kind of event Theatre Bizarre has done in the past. This year over 25 different performers, from bands to burlesque, will be part of "The Initiation".

With his hands covered in paint, Dunivant talked about the current status of his battle with the City of Detroit over the closure of the illegal carnival built in a residential neighborhood across the street from the now closed Michigan State Fairgrounds, how his art is evolving because of the new location and event, the legends of the Freemasons, Dunivant’s recent selection as a 2011 Kresge Arts Fellow, the Theater Bizarre documentary and more.

(click the audio link above to hear the interview)

Some design images for Theatre Bizarre's "the Initiation" at the Masonic Temple:

Theatre Bizarre’s “The Initiation”
Saturday, October 22nd – 6:30pm to 4am
Masonic Temple – Detroit

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For previous stories about Theatre Bizarre: