Divine worked with the groundbreaking gender bending theater and art troupe The Cockettes. Here is info from Fayette Hauser's (original founder) site
The Cockettes were born on stage on New Year’s Eve, 1969 at the Palace Theatre in North Beach, San Francisco. The troupe emerged out of a group of Acid Freak artists and hippies that were living communally in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in a Victorian flat on Bush St. We were all intent on re-creating ourselves in the way of a New Myth, expressing our deepest Fantasies, Dreams and Desires on our bodies. Dressing as outrageously as possible, we tripped around the city in a large pack, going to concerts at the dance halls; The Fillmore, Winterland and The Family Dog on the Great Highway, thus attracting even more like-minded Freaks. Into this wild bunch came Hibiscus, the biggest Freak artist of them all. He had been an actor named George Harris III and had come from New York City where he performed with his theater family in avant garde productions such as the seminal play Gorilla Queen by Ronald Tavel. He was brought to San Francisco by Alan Ginsburg, his lover who led him to Kaliflower, a commune run by the Beat author and gay guru Irving Rosenthal.
After much LSD, George changed his name to Hibiscus and rebelling against the restrictive atmosphere of Kaliflower, presented himself to the house at Bush & Baker, announcing that the glory and beauty of our outrageous lifestyle should be on the stage. His dream was to create an avant garde theatre troupe similar to what he had experienced in New York with John Vaccaro’s Play House of the Ridiculous and the films of Jack Smith but to now include the bright and shining zeitgeist of the culture of LSD. The original name for the troupe was The Angels of Light Free Theatre. Everyone at Bush & Baker was enthralled and leaped at the idea. We had all attended the iconoclastic theater experience presented by The Living Theatre with their show Paradise Now where they completely dissolved the invisible “fourth wall” of the stage to encompass everyone in the moment. Experimental and experiential theater, real, no bullshit. Absurdist and Surreal, in life and on the stage.
Hibiscus brought in an old velvet scrapbook and began filling it with pictures that represented ideas for the stage. He included all of us in the creation of this fantasy filled dream of a new theatre vision. The book held many ideas and became the basis for all performances in the first year. Hibiscus was determined to have the first performance on New Years Eve 1969 in order to proclaim the New Theatre for the New Decade.
He found an old theater on Fillmore St., a very run-down place that showed porno films. The owner seemed amenable to the idea until Hibiscus showed up with our entourage from Bush & Baker, to perform a wedding ceremony for Teena and Boop. We were naked wearing only great floral head wreaths and a few scarves. While everyone was dancing ceremoniously on the stage, the owner burst in shrieking, “I can’t allow a live sex act here! Get out!”
Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi: The Most Punk Play Of All Time
Michael Meschke’s adaptation of Alfred Jarry’s scatological and chaotic play Ubu Roi was performed at the Marionetteatern performing arts theatre, Stockholm, in 1964. Costumes, sets and puppets were designed and created by Franciska and Stefan Themerson. This post is illustrated by photographs from Meschke’s show.
Ubu Roi was first performed in Paris at the Théâtre de l’Œuvre on December 10, 1896. Jarry, only twenty-three at the time, had come to Paris five years before to live on a small family inheritance. He frequented the literary salons of the time and began to write. It didn’t take long for his inheritance to disappear and he soon lapsed into a chaotic and anarchic existence in which he met the demands of day-to-day life with self-conscious buffoonery. He died in a state of utter destitution and alcoholism. Ubu Roi, however, was an innovative, avant-garde satire on power, greed, and malfeasance. It caused a stir, provoking riots in the theatre and a national scandal and Ubu Roi was banned after only two performances (one of which was the dress rehearsal). It really was that good.
The story, a re-telling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, begins with Père Ubu (played by Firmin Gémier) exclaiming “Merdre”, which can be translated as ‘Shitsky!’ or ‘Shite!’.
The story than becomes a little oblique. The action centres on Ubu, a grotesque caricature based on Félix-Frédéric Hébert (14 January 1832 – 14 October 1918), Jarry’s physics teacher at a Rennes lycée – “la déformation par un potache d’un de ses professeurs qui représentait pour lui tout le grotesque qui fût au monde.”
We know something of Jarry’s unwitting muse. In June 1882 the school inspector noted: “M. Hébert’s speech is ponderous and muffled. His lessons lack both clarity and organization. His influence on his pupils is almost nil. He does not know how to impose his authority, nor how to get the slightest attention from his pupils.”
Might we feel a pang of sympathy for the lampooned teacher? Hold that thought as we deliver an aside full of context:
Finally, in 1892 and after eleven years at Rennes, he was persuaded to retire, on reaching the age of sixty.
A few years later the events of the Dreyfus Affair obliged his return to public service. Alfred Dreyfus had been the highest-ranking Jewish officer ever to serve in the French Army until, in 1894, a court martial found him guilty of passing military secrets to the Germans. After a ceremony of public denigration he was imprisoned on Devil’s Island under particularly arduous conditions. It soon became obvious that he was the victim of an anti-Semitic plot, and the “Affair” became the greatest political controversy of its day. Dreyfus’s second court martial, in 1899, happened to take place in Rennes; the courtroom was within the lycée building itself. He was again found guilty, and sentenced to an additional ten years in prison, even though the evidence brought against him at his first trial had been shown in the interim to have been forged. The verdict was so obviously unjust that the French President pardoned him anyway. Hébert was so outraged by this attempt, in his words, “to rehabilitate a justly condemned traitor” that he entered local politics and was elected a town councilor in 1900. Later the same year a local paper carried this report of a council meeting. More of the article in link below