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Director and Curator,
Cooley Gallery


Nadine Fiedler
News & Publications

Public information: 503/777-7755

October 8, 1996

Performances of The Beggar's Opera and a lecture will accompany the exhibition

"Hogarth and the Shows of London," an exhibition of 52 prints inspired by the theater by British satirist William Hogarth, will be on view at Reed College's Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery from November 8 through December 31. The Cooley Gallery is in Reed's library building; viewing hours are Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call the gallery information line at 503/777-7790.

In connection with the exhibition the Reed College theatre, music, and dance departments will present John Gay's The Beggar's Opera on November 8, 9, and 10 (Friday through Sunday) and November 14, 15, and 16 (Thursday through Saturday) at 8 p.m. on Reed's Mainstage Theatre. Tickets are $4 for seniors and $6 for the general public. For reservations, call the theatre box office at 503/777-7284.

Andrew Stevens, curator of prints and drawings at the Elvehjem Museum of Art, who organized "Hogarth and the Shows of London," will lecture on the exhibition on Tuesday, November 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the Reed College psychology auditorium.

The exhibition
William Hogarth (1697-1764), hailed as the greatest printmaker in England throughout his lifetime, raised the technical standards of printmaking. To safeguard his livelihood from unscrupulously pirated editions, he fought to obtain legislation protecting artist's copyright by holding back the release of his works until a law of that nature, named Hogarth's Law, was passed in 1735. His prints satirize the entertainment available to London commoners, such as low theater, street musicians, and cock fights. They also depict his admiration for the entertainers themselves. His first dated painting, The Beggar's Opera (1728), illustrates a scene from the play by John Gay exactly as it appeared to the audience and includes portraits of the principal actors and actresses. Hogarth's pieces provide insights into the culture from which the works sprang, bringing together the artistic, theatrical, and literary facets of English life in the first half of the eighteenth century.

The "Hogarth and the Shows of London" exhibition was developed by the Elvehjem Museum of Art at the University Wisconsin-Madison. The show is drawn primarily from the museum's permanent collection and supplemented by a generous loan from Suzanne and Gerald Labiner. A fully illustrated catalog written by Stevens will accompany the exhibition.

The play
The Beggar's Opera by John Gay was first performed in 1728 and has retained its popularity into the twentieth century. Its colorful gathering of whores, highwaymen, pickpockets, and jailers, all with lower-class pretensions to high-class morality, give the play a delightful satirical tone. The ballad opera's folk melodies and art songs, arranged by Jeremy Barlow, lend a spirited flair to the evening.

The production is to be performed by Reed students under the direction of Kathleen Worley, professor of theatre, with musical direction from Bonnie Garrett, director of private music instruction; Virginia Hancock, associate professor of music; and John Vergin. The dances have been choreographed by Carla Mann, visiting director of dance. Max Muller, director and technical designer for theatre, created the sets and lighting, and the costumes are the work of Carolyn Carr, director and costume designer for the theatre.