The King In Yellow

The late 80’s and early 90’s were a very active time for The Cloak, especially along the I-5 corridor in the United States. One of the most significant hotbeds of activity at the time was in Southeast Portland, centering around the Morningside Encroachment situated in the South Tabor neighborhood.

The Morningside Encroachment’s membership at the time purportedly swelled to well over 1,600 members, though this cannot be historically verified. The success of the Encroachment at the time can be credited largely to Virgil Bell, who conducted many activities which garnered considerable attention and helped grow interest in the Cloak among the swelling counter culture of the 1990’s.

Chief among the outreach efforts carried out by Virgil Bell included the formation of the “Morningside Players” – a renegade performance troupe who gained significant notoriety through their staging of public, free-for-all performances of classic and original plays in public spaces. The group utilized flash mob tactics to conduct protests and anarchist agitations, including an alleged involvement with the clash with police outside the X-Ray cafe in downtown Portland in July of 1994.

Pictured here is a flyer for one of their more notable performances – a staging of the cursed play “The King In Yellow” atop Mt. Tabor in early June of 1993. This particular event drew such a crowd it had to be dispersed by police, prompting several arrests. Very few copies of printed flyers for these events exist today, as many of them were archived in the encroachment center and subsequently lost to a fire which consumed the building in late 1997.