Cabaret Magritte redefines coffee house

By Keri Hayes

Arizona Daily Wildcat

There is something relatively new and surprisingly hip going on in Tucson, namely, performance art theatre, literature, spoken word, music, dance. In funky combinations, or standing alone, Cafe Magritte showcases Tucson's finest performance art at its "Cabaret Magritte" events, which take place sporadically in the cafe's Bowler Room, a bistro/bar/coffee shop with the most interesting bathrooms in town.

"Cabaret Magritte" is the brainchild of Herb Stratford, who created it after he taught a performance art class at Pima Community College.

Jarrett Deshazer, Cafe Magritte employee, waiter and self-proclaimed "ambassador of hip" said the popularity of the performances "has been growing. People really need to get here two hours early. It has been really cool, with all the downtown hipsters showing up."

At the last "Cabaret Magritte," Oct. 22, Matt Marcus started the night out on a hysterical note with his version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," performed on an acoustic guitar hooked up to an amplifier. Marcus' desperate voice and squeaky strummings put the audience in a particularly warped mind-set.

Short fiction readings, audience participation performance art and spoken word followed Marcus' lead.

Interspersed among the unique performances were experimental rhythms and music from "Thee Convolutions." Their own productions and great covers of some Bauhaus tunes reverberated throughout the cafe from a strange stage about six feet below the ceiling, accessible only by a ladder.

Some particularly good performances came from Alex Rawson, who read (or rather intoned loudly) her biting poetry, and Sue Tiss, who impressed all with her exceptional belly dancing (she looked like she was having the best time of her life up there.)

If you are titillated enough by this info, keep in mind that "Cabaret Magritte" is a very popular event Stratford suggested getting there early. It's worth it too; Cafe Magritte's Bowler Room serves some of the best food in town, wonderful wines and really strong coffee make an evening out of it!

The next "Cabaret Magritte" performance will be inJanuary. To find out the exact date, time and details, call Cafe Magritte at 884-8004, or Herb Stratford at 881-1790.

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