The Harrowed Harlot rinses her red hands in the bloody bathwater, dousing her stained slip. She lets the sullied swirl of water lap against her. Languid. Unabashed. Sated.
"I had a necklace that was carved from human hearts..."
Set to original music by Katy Stephan for The Soiled Dove, an evening of circus and theater brought to you by The Vau De Vire Society.
The Harrowed Harlot
There's no one way to start a creative process. Sometimes a spark materializes out of thin air. Sometimes an idea has been percolating in a backstage bathtub. And sometimes a song appears in your inbox with the query, "See if this does anything for you", as in the case of The Harrowed Harlot.
This act's deepest roots lie in the bath tub itself: a beautiful mini clawfoot slipper tub compliments of the inimitable Miss Emma Nation. The Tub debuted in April 2017, then laid dormant since many stages aren’t keen on a splash zone. In early 2019 I began dancing with San Francisco’s Vau De Vire Society. The Soiled Dove is an annual immersive cirque/theater production, a show featuring over 40 circus performers and original music performed live. Amid talks of the Barbary Coast and spirited characters a little light bulb flickered in my mind.
The tub immediately felt like a fit but the act needed to make sense with the arch of the evening. I reached out to the fearless leaders at Vau De Vire and made a simple ask: can I make a wet mess on stage with this lovely, period-appropriate prop?
Shortly thereafter, the email arrived. “See if this does anything for you”, it read, along with an interesting track from local singer songwriter Katy Stephan. Katy’s vivid song, “Carved From Human Hearts” inspired the harlot who slipped comfortably into the world of The Soiled Dove. Her voice brings to life a bold, brazen, and manipulative woman. All traits a broad of the Barbary Coast might exhibit. She is a huntress - a painted lady preying upon those who would feed upon her.
Casting our woman in an era of lawless greed and unrelenting morality, I imagine she seized upon whatever control she found within reach. She skipped across states to San Francisco’s infamous red light district leaving a trail of disgraced Johns in her wake, adding heartstrings to her macabre necklace. This is where you’ll find her now, mere moments after a freshly minted murder.
The Harrowed Harlot shares her twisted tale, washing away her sins as she lures you in to be her next victim.