— From the Fool —

I’m on the road with these people and it keeps going on. That’s the funny thing. There’s always some place that it keeps going. Even if you get off and go the other way, you’re still on it. It just keeps going on. It’s always there in front of the car.

It makes you think, even if you’re drinking coffee. What if there’s only one road? The one that you’re on?

You think, well, there’s the map, and the map has roads all over it, the one you’re on and then all the others where you’re not. So there must be lots of cars going other places on other roads even if you think you’re the only one, which is what we mostly feel like most of the time.

But you don’t have any proof. They might have just scribbled all over it in red and blue. The only one you can tell is real is the one you’re on.

Even that, there’s so much construction going on, orange cones all over the place, so you wonder, what if they know which way you’re going on the road, and they’re just building it ahead of you the day before you get there?

It’s hard to trust anything these days.

— From EF —

The night before hitting the road on a long-haul tour is a challenge. Sleep is a good idea, because that road’s gonna stretch out for more than 750 miles before sleep can happen again. I’d done the laundry and packing well in advance, but the kitchen did me in.

We’d peeled and cored and cut all these apples that our overly-generous Gravenstein popped out, and they had to be canned lest they be wasted. I baked it into a huge vat of applesauce, but oh god, the canning started at 10 pm. And then there was the pesto to make and the chicken thighs to broil with my special chipotle/poblano rub — you get the idea.

I did get a little sleep; it wasn’t an all-nighter, but close.

I can’t count how many all-nighters I’ve pulled, working on deadlines. Some have been ecstatic, because if I’m composing music, the muse rarely rings my doorbell before midnight, and then she really wants to party. Some have been fueled by panic (having to finish the radio show’s edit and get the CD to the stations); some have been fueled by fury (doing the taxes); some have been sheer butt-headed stubbornness (wanting to finish sewing this so I could wear it on the plane.)

Work-related stuff is not the same as dancing around the fire-pit until the sun comes up, or threading the maze of a sacramental journey, or making delicious love, but for me there’s still something in common. Night is special. The mind works differently.

The video artist Bill Viola had a huge exhibit at SFMOMA in 1999, and I saw it several times — I found it stunning. Peter Sellars and David Ross co-curated, and the three of them got a brilliant idea for the closing day. They felt that night-people should have a chance to experience this work with their night-minds. Folks who were still there when they locked the doors at midnight could stay until dawn. I think there were about thirty, and I was one of them. It was an astonishing gift. If you’re curious, here’s a link to what these three artists think about the night-mind.


Three cheers for night.

— From CB —

Last night’s performance of Gifts was the first time we’ve done it outdoors. When we performed in Bloomsburg PA last November, we had about 20 people there. This time it was more than 50 — a bit too many for Laurie’s living room. We’d been doubtful when hosts asked about performing it outdoors — the play has a very intimate “interior” feeling to it —but here we had little choice.

It worked. The difficulty of outdoor performance is that it’s very hard to be secure in your acoustics. Indoors, you hear your voice off the walls, and you can play with great subtlety, no louder than you need. Outdoors, there’s no back wall, no auditory feedback other than your own instincts. And then you have the barking dogs, the chainsaws, the airplanes, the traffic, the birds. . .

Still, it worked, and partly due to those very factors. As with several shows accompanied by house pets wandering underfoot, the natural elements create context. We’re in the same world as our audience, and that world hasn’t been sanitized. The story we’re telling is a tiny blurt of order in a chaotic terrain. We’re all in the same boat under the gathering clouds.

I love theatre that plunges us into dream, that demands total focus with no glare from the exit signs, that creates its own visual/auditory universe. But in fact the great ages of theatre were created by actors seen in the same light, by sun or candles, that illumined the audience. No air conditioning or spiritual climate control. No house manager to give a pitch for season subscriptions, request the turning off of cellphones, or command us to enjoy the show.

So while by nature, as a writer/director, I’m the ultimate control freak, I try to welcome those distractions, improvisations, accidents that remind us, with a jab of the elbow, that we’re all bare, forked animals gathered together for story-telling, and that the story will survive.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2014

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