The Producers’ Essays: 2010



                                     Saints & Sinners: Masquerade Waltz, 2010

“... that which you bring forth will save you, that which you deny

will destroy you.”

First, let me say, the theme is not meant to be a limiting structure. It’s not a fence. Or a corral. Its intention is more provocative. And, if you need no provocation to find a costume that suits you, ignore the theme altogether.

Following on last year’s invitation to dress up as a part of the less public  “you,” the notion of a theme seemed  a way to encourage looking at both the dreams and fears  in each of us: the stuff we are incredibly proud of and aspire to; the stuff of our less charming aspects of being, which are nonetheless “us.”

Voila! Saints and Sinners!

We could have chosen Heroes and Villains and not have been far from this construct, but the specific costumes that might be drawn from the Saints and Sinners theme just seemed fun (though dancing in Henry the 8th attire would wilt even the most robust of villains).

The idea appealed to me for the drama and possible period dress-up possibilities that would come with so many characters. With thousands of years of the best and the worst of mankind available to us through history, choices abound.

And, by saints, I don’t just mean those some religion or another has spent time beatifying. I include here all - persons or myths - that speak to an authentic place in our being. Siddarther or Mary Magdelene. Madonna or Mandela.

The real work is not finding the right garment. The real task is finding the character within, which truly expresses exhibition. True disclosure. The more naked those choices are, the more real you might well feel.

The Masquerade offers a departure from ordinary time. The costumes and cabaret simply augment the possibilities. The “choice” you make, days and weeks before this evening, is the true departure time. Your sharing this with us – that’s the magic.

Susan Balshor,

Impresario at Large


Martha knew the devil when she saw him; we all do

If sin – and sinning – lives in the eye of the beholder, then so of course does saintliness – and sainthood.

It’s a perspective that makes for unlimited clever and yet simple costume ideas. Was Michael Jackson a sinner? Or a saint? Or – even better for purposes of la costumerie – was he both? Ask the British Governor-General what he thought of Ghandi. Or read J. Edgar Hoover’s redacted memos for his take on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. My sainted grandmother, dear sweet Martha, thought John F. Kennedy the devil incarnate, because he was Roman Catholic. She would curse him through her black-and-white television screen and then feed me oatmeal-raisin cookies.

You’ll find saints and sinner everywhere, and living more often than you’d think inside the same person (which means I could attend this year as my wonderful bigot grandmother ).

We like to say the Masquerade is not a Halloween party. Yet what’s that mean?

To us, just this: While Halloween parties are fine and fun, they’re meant mostly to be a cover-up. While the Masquerade indeed requires a mask, the invitation we proffer is more about revealing and revelation. This mysterious evening is a chance perhaps to look into society and then look into yourself. A chance to see what occurs when you explore.

Are there personages from history or the present day that resonate with your own personality? Are there people you admire or loathe – that you could bring to life for a night, infused with particles of your own yin/yang personas?

What made the last year’s Masquerade so special, so talked about, so successful in every way was not the great dance music; nor the performances; nor even the 100-year-old charm of the Century Ballroom. No, what made that night magic was the roomful of dancers who stepped into roles and became the actors in the evening’s performance. They were the drama; they were the stars of the show.

You don’t have to dress as a saint or a sinner to have a grand time at this second annual Masquerade. No one will fret if you attend as Batman or an oversized mud-burrowing bi-valve geoduck. This is America, after all; we are a people of spectacle.

But what we do know is this: We expect another great cast of dancers his year, and we only offer the Saints-and-Sinners theme as a gentle assist, a starting point for ideas, a place where dark and light can swirl together – and spin out a costume or that’s as much fun as it is revelatory.

Come. Have fun.


And you’ll triple your fun.

Dean Paton

Masquerade Impresario