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Arts and Entertainment

The Macabre Edwardian Ball & Its Curious Costumes And Performances Are Back

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The Edwardian Ball, the strange and whimsical tribute to artist Edward Gorey and the Edwardian Era, is back, and liable to be bigger than it has ever been. The Edwardian Ball launched 15 years ago in San Francisco and is in its seventh year in L.A. It'll go down next Saturday, February 27 at The Fonda Theatre, and the curious should expect a lot of elaborate costumes, delightfully bizarre performances and mind-bending art. But we can't forget the reason for the season: Edward Gorey.

Edward Gorey was an artist who penned a number of very detailed and often ghoulish little books, including The Gashleycrumb Tinies, in which a number of children—arranged in alphabetical order—meet a grisly fate. He also illustrated versions of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and H.G. Wells' War of the Words and a number of covers for children's author John Bellairs. His illustration style is hard to mistake and as a person, Gorey was a decided eccentric often appearing in fur coats. The artist died in 2000.

The idea to throw a ball in Gorey's honor was conceived, as many odd ideas are, in the desert, co-founder Justin Katz told LAist. Each installment of the ball takes a different Gorey work and attempts to translate it to the stage. This year, they'll be staging The Stupid Joke, a book about a little boy who decides not to get out of bed, which, as expected, ultimately backfires.

Katz said the band Rosin Coven, of which he's a member, has teamed up with Dark Garden Corsetry, Kinetic Steamworks and several opera singers to create a "dense and intense 12-minute piece."

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"Because Edward Gorey's stories are sort of vague—a lot of gaps, a lot of noncontinuous threads, sort of like vignettes—we try to add a narrative," he said.

However, the performance is only one piece of the puzzle. Art curator Will Chase will be bringing a number of installations, which may include mixed media, sculpture and technology among other objects

There will also be performances from Ball co-hosts Vau de Vire Society, which combines dancers, acrobats, aerialists, contortions and others for an assuredly provocative experience. There will be musical sets from The Gentleman Callers of L.A., trapeze DJs The Klown and Delachaux, John Brothers Piano Company and The Speakeasy Syndicate; ballroom dancing; tarot reading and a free portrait booth. See the full lineup here.

And, of course, fans are encouraged to dress up. While many seem to err on the side of steampunk—many of Gorey's works have a Victorian-era feel to them—others dress up as characters from the books or as their own personal creations.

"I want people comfortable with getting as weird as they want to be," Katz said. "It's not watching a show, you become the show."

The Edwardian Ball takes place Saturday, Feb. 27 at the Fonda Theatre, located at 6126 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood. Tickets begin at $55.