Sunday, December 27, 2009

Criminally Insane Ballet Closes Abruptly

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - A production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake performed by street people and the criminally insane was closed by police after a brawl, a stabbing and a fire marred the debut performance. Presented by Toby Manning and the People's All-Natural Theatre, the performance marked the second year in a row that director Manning has been stabbed. "Ballet belongs to the masses," he said from a hospital bed. "Not just those who with fancy tights and dancing lessons and talent." Having received a 70,000 dollar stimulus grant to bring art to the community, Manning cast his production in the Tenderloin and at the Laguna Honda Hospital's criminally insane ward. One anonymous source close to the production stated the ballet was in trouble early on. "The Swan Queen Odette was played a by stripper who went by the stage name 'Fat Wad Toni.' Her choreography was limited to swinging from a pole and puffing on a cigar using her dewlap. Prince Siegfried was portrayed by a violent ex-con who sold his parents into slavery and used the money to buy malt liquor and huaraches. These were not ballet people." On opening night, curtain was delayed while the chorus roamed the audience panhandling. Manning herded most of them backstage, but then a fight broke out between the orchestra and cast members after a drunken Von Rothbart attempted to urinate in a bassoon. By the time Act II arrived, Prince Siegfried felt disrespected by Manning's attempts to prompt him. Violence erupted when Manning whispered for Siegfried to stay at the lake with Odette and stop hitting on members of the Swan Court. Siegfried slashed the director with a homemade knife made from paper clips and a rolled-up copy of the libretto. As paramedics worked on Manning, members of the hunting party and Odile cooked up a can of Sterno and set the backdrop ablaze. Police and fire units arrived, making dozens of arrests for assault, arson, parole violation, and smoking cigarettes outside without guilt. (Photo:

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