“Years ago, a stranger landed in Brooklyn and quietly rented a storefront. No one saw him; the only evidence of his arrival was a sign that appeared in the window reading, ‘Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery.’ Soon after, art exhibitions cropped up in the space, and three directors became the face of the gallery, but we’ve never seen the man behind the eponym.
So says the xeroxed playbill for Klaus von Nichtssagend: The Musical, a live performance presented by NYC artist Ryan McNamara:
“See, Klaus starts his first day at the prestigious Old Country Art Academy
Not that he is a particularly talented artist.
His acceptance may just have to do with his mother owning this town’s most prestigious gallery.
On top of that, Frau von Nichtssagend is running for mayor of this fine town.
Oh dear, she heard me. Her ears are sonar when it comes to hearing her name.”
So once upon a time, the earnest art student Klaus wiled away blissful afternoons in the German countryside with Mikke, his schoolmate and soulmate. Enveloped in virginal love, Klaus and Mikke met regularly for “tutoring sessions,” modeling for each other’s drawings and swapping ideas – among other things.
Grand Dame (Miriam Katz)
Foreseeing the inevitability of this impervious passion, Klaus comes forth to his mother, Frau von Nichtssagend, played by the sizzling Miriam Katz doing Roxie Hart doing Cinderella’s Stepmother. A scheming shrew and gallery grand dame, Frau Frown is occupied with “Belgian clients” and political ambitions. Correctly, Klaus predicts her disapproval, not only because Mikke is a six-foot tall wooden ladder: “Mikke is installation and we are exhibition!” she cries.
Ryan McNamara as Klaus von Nichtssagend
What should be an emancipation from his Mother’s icy clutches instead leads to a crueller leash. “Enough about love! What about power?” shrieks the Frau. Choosing political profile over her son’s heart, our heartless harridan trammels him into a corner of the gallery. Ruled with masking tape, the small square cordons him off like a Richard Serra Prop sculpture. There must he wait until after the big election:
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“Behind the tape with you!/ Your love is not true/ You are stuck until the votes are in!/ Foolish love will not cost me my win”
Inspired through love’s extrasensory mechanics, Klaus goes all reverse Galatea, posing as a sculpture that needs to be shipped – to Mikke. But his postal plan is thwarted. When the crate arrives, Frau von Nichtssagend leaps out from the package (LOL total Trojan Horse!!! LMAO), armed with a level to “straighten out” our loving ladder. She goes all Klara Liden on Mikke, beating the last breath from his rungs (OMFG!).
Such tragedy! Poor Klaus in a loveless world! Die Leiden des jungen Nichtssagend!
Triumph of the Vill(ain)?
Bereft of his love and his mother’s acceptance, Klaus expatriates himself to Williamsburg. He loves his community, but hates the G train.
“So, Klaus moved to Brooklyn
And he built a gallery
To fill this void
But, that really didn’t work
So he gave the gallery
to Ingrid, Rob and Sam
then he left the country
and ever since that FATEful day
he’s been SKIing in the Alps..”
The cast of this one-night-only, sold-out performance included Ryan McNamara, Miriam Katz, Reid Bartelme, and Sara Marcus; with a clad-in-black-leotard chorus including Sam Roeck, Sabine Rogers, and Myles Ashby. Music and lyrics by Ryan McNamara. [Many of these voluptuous bodies were made for tights (am i right or am i right?). Was that the birthday gift to itself from this gallery born five years ago this month?] Thank you and thank you: Rob Hult, Ingrid Bromberg Kennedy, and Sam Wilson. Happy bday, Klaus.
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A Star is Born
IMAGES: Michael Bilsborough