Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tableau Vivant

I’d been back from Chicago (which I’ll post about next time) for about 14 hours when some friends and I jumped in the car and headed to the beach – Laguna Beach to be exact.

Laguna Beach has long been a small art town.  During the summer, there are many art related activities and festivals like the Sawdust Festival, Festival of Arts, and Art-A-Fair.  The most popular event however is the Pageant of the Masters.

The Pageant is a show of tableau vivant or living pictures.  Works of art are recreated and “performed” on stage using beautifully costumed people and elaborate set design.  It has taken place annually since 1932.  Tonight was the first time I attended, and I was thoroughly impressed.  

This year’s theme is “Only Make Believe”. 


We weren’t really familiar with most of the pieces.  Regardless, they were very magical and quite beautiful.   01.pageant2.0703.lo

Fairy Wood by Henry Meynell Rheam

Alice's Adventures by John Tenniel

Arabian Knights by Virgina Sterrett

Confabulation of Dragons by Scott Gustafson

Between the lighting, makeup, costumes, props, and backdrops it was quite difficult to make out that the people were actually three dimensional actors and not flat.  The show was pretty incredible.

If you are ever in Southern CA during the summer, you’ll have to check it out.

**The photos were taken from The Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot website as cameras are NOT allowed in the event.


  1. Okay, I guess I have to visit that website because I don't understand. Am I looking at real people in those pictures? Because I am in love with that Fairy Wood photo/picture.

  2. @Mark - Yep! They are people - the tiny little boys in the Fairywood are not however. :) Most of them were so hard to tell too. I wish there were more pictures online to share because it's pretty amazing.

  3. I have lived in southern California most of my life and I have never been. I have always wanted to go but it is usually over by the time I remember it. It's the same with the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. I need a calendar.

  4. Cool! YOu sure are making the most of your summer!

  5. To be honest I don't know what to make of this.
    There is a feel of Dorian Grey or Paris in the 1870s. But that might be the mood I in at this moment. Either way that Goose Girl is downright creepy.

  6. @Banker Chick - I know, it's in our own backyard and I've never been either. It's definitely worth a visit. The art fairs are fun too!

  7. @Jlo - I know, the end of summer break is coming too soon. I'm SO not ready to go back to school.

  8. @Vince - Ya, Alice is a bit creepy up close (as much as I like the story Alice in Wonderland it's pretty creepy), but sitting in the stands watching it take place wasn't creepy at all. Even with binoculars it was hard to tell they were people. The amount of vision and preparation for the 2 month long event is quite impressive. We stared intently waiting, hoping they'd sneeze or breathe or something, but they stood as still as statues.

  9. Oh yeah! Like in that tv show Arrested Development.

    I don't know if I find the whole tableau thing cool or creepy... did they blink?

  10. @Hula - Ha! One of my friends told me about that episode while we were there. I didn't see it. I didn't see any blinking!