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FRIDAY & SATURDAY
Creative types are always rationalizing their works’ little quirks. Take choreographer Pat Graney, who recently downplayed the costumes for her new dance piece, The Vivian Girls, in the Washington Blade, saying, “After a while, you don’t pay attention to the penises.” See, this is why Henry Darger kept his art to himself. Darger, a likely-schizophrenic recluse who died in Chicago in 1973, may have lived the majority of his life without friends or family, dodging neighbors’ personal questions with obsessively tracked weather statistics and leaving his apartment only to work (as a janitor and dishwasher) or dig through garbage cans (for pictures of nearly naked little girls that he could trace). But when Darger’s landlords, cleaning out his room after his death, discovered what he’d been working on for 40 years of solitary nights, the man whose most-repeated words were “Leave me alone” was thrust into a spotlight he never wished for: Darger, who some suspect may have been a pedophile, seemed to wrestle his demons in a 15,000-page illustrated novel titled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, as Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. His blood-soaked drawings of the seven often-naked and male-genitaled Vivian Girls are fascinating for their weirdness, just as the text that accompanies them is mind-boggling for its depth—but after the novelty passes, the scribblings of this darling of the outsider-art world are just plain creepy. And now, Graney has brought them to twisted life with the help of “eerily serene music” by composer Amy Denio and Irish fiddler Martin Hayes. See the dancing she-males—and feel Darger’s mortification—when the Pat Graney Company presents The Vivian Girls Friday, Feb. 11, and Saturday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m. at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University Boulevard and Stadium Drive, College Park. $30. (301) 405-2787. (Tricia Olszewski)