— From the Fool —

I had a dream that was different than anything I ever dreamed. Usually I dream about walking through buildings and forgetting why, and sometimes there are ducks. But this dream was different.

I dreamed that I woke up. Then I was awake. But I couldn’t tell when it stopped being a dream and when it was real. Not like everything was different colors or I was standing in the middle of the freeway. I was just lying there in bed.

But if I dreamed I woke up, did I? What if I had to prove it?

And what if I’m eating breakfast and suddenly there’s a monster at the window or I’m naked in algebra class or a big H-bomb goes off next door, then am I just dreaming or do I have to find a new apartment?

I guess most people have that problem. Lots of things, if you don’t like’em you can think, Hey, it’s just a nightmare, we’ll all wake up and eat breakfast with the blinds pulled down. How do you get through the day unless you think you’re dreaming?

But maybe I better fix my alarm clock. That helps make the distinction.

— From CB —

Let us hope and pray and maybe even do what we can to promote the survival of — what’s the best word for it? — small theatre. That covers a broad spectrum: a classical ensemble in Bloomsburg, a community theatre in Council Bluffs, a physical-theatre/devised-work troupe in San Francisco, all shapes and styles. Some do Broadway hits; some, off-beat new plays; some, ensemble-devised multimedia pieces. Some have their own buildings; some bounce from space to space one step ahead of the developers; a few, like us, tour.

Some are comprised of amateurs who just love doing shows as a respite from their day jobs; others are kids recently out of college wanting to bypass cattle-call auditions and create their own work. Some happily work gratis; others aspire to pay their artists more than parking-meter change. Many rely on a few dedicated, exhausted souls who do all the tasks that are needed, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

What does this diversity have in common? Most of them exist within the vagaries of funding. Most are beset by the threat of declining audiences, decreased media coverage, rent increases, or sheer burnout. But I’ve never met anyone in such an outfit, whatever its nature, who didn’t work to make the next show as moving, meaningful, or funny as possible.

These theatres are the heartbeat of the art form. It was Chanticleer Players that gave me my first hypnotic glimpse into the world of theatre; our Milwaukee ensemble Theatre X was our gateway into our life path of forty-five years; and it’s the workers of Germinal Stage, The Venue at 35th, Touchstone, Bloomsburg, New Paradise, Pontine, Irondale, Eulenspiegel, who are helping us to bring King Lear across the country. Let us admire the height and bulk of the giant trees, but also give honor to the root systems.

— From EF —

It’s been quite a week. We managed our massive Rubik’s Cube packing and departure pretty much on time, and our first day on the road was the stunning majesty of US 50, the lonely two-lane blacktop that we ride across Nevada and Utah. We did our first truck-stop overnight in Salina, as usual, and converted the Prius to a bedroom. This year, there was one difference — we have two tarp-wrapped bundles of the aluminum sticks that form the stage structure, and the only way to deal with them is to slide them under the car.

About half an hour into trying to sleep, there was a huge whoosh and whump, and I saw torrents of water going sideways across the car’s trunk window. My first thought was that they were cleaning the parking lot with a water cannon and thought it would be fun to harass the civilian cars. No such thing was visible, and in fifteen minutes it stopped as abruptly as it started. This all happened twice more.

Come morning, I expected to see lakes on the parking lot, but no. I began to wonder if it had all been a dream. They do rain funny in Utah.

The next day we met our Denver hosts and their theatre — real jewels, both. We were treated to a lavish back-yard barbecue dinner and all got mildly sloshed during the process of a delightful experience of swapping stories with new-found tribe members. We don’t often get to talk to folks who’ve paid the same dues, and it was great.

The next day, we loaded in, set up and ran through a tech-check, then, like a football team, ran all our puppet-passing sequences. Everything was solid and ready to go. At five minutes before opening the house, we took the cue on the laptop to go into the lighting preset, using the foot-pedal, and nothing happened. Again. Nothing. Space-bar would work OK, but not the foot-pedal. Oh God.

We asked for a ten-minute delay before admitting audience, but couldn’t get the pedal on-line. It was up to me to improvise through the whole performance, figuring out how to take each cue on the space-bar, even if I had puppets on both hands. It was sweaty, but we got through it. Before the following matinee, I tried again without success to fix the problem, so we made a clear strategy for each gnarly cue. That worked, and if we can’t solve the problem until we get home, well, we do have a workable strategy.

Both audiences were great, full and fulsome, and we now have another bonded set of compadres. The Blood Moon Eclipse was bedeviled by little clotty clouds, but we appreciated what we were given. Now, the next night, we’re driving straight east on the I-70, with a huge fully-visible bright red enormous moon straight ahead. Who needs an eclipse?


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© Bishop & Fuller 2015

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