Having moved from maniacal lifelong focus in theatre—63 years that art form being the center of my life—to prose fiction, it takes multiple stimuli to get me back into the old familiar harness. But it’s happened.
At a local party, someone from an arts center asked us if we might do a show, something, next year. That put the bee in the bonnet, though the bee was a bit stupefied. And then last night we went to see Freddie’s show.
We’d first seen it 30-odd years ago, when he was touring it internationally. Subsequently, we saw it several more times. Now he decided to revive it. A challenge physically for someone 30-odd years older, and a different time, different tastes. Yet quite beautiful. Some things were exactly like old times, some things changed, and some ad libs about “Why the fuck am I doing this?” But overall, a gorgeous evening of performance. What I set out to do at age 15, though I didn’t know it yet: Living theatre.
Fred and I have never really talked much, except about the excellent soups he’s cooked. But he liked our shows, I’ve seen many of his, and when I was preparing King Lear I found myself using him as—not a role model, exactly, more a performance model, imagining how he’d perform it. Subsequently, he did perform Lear in Dallas—no idea whether it was anything like my imagination. Strange artistic interchange.
But Fred’s performance was the second stimulus that pushed us over the edge.
We’re planning the Bishop & Fuller Farewell Tour. I’m 78, Elizabeth will be 80 in February, and we’ve earned the right to sit on our asses in California till they wither away. But we want to take that risk—and remember how we started.
It’ll be RASH ACTS, an evening of short sketches, some with puppets, most with our meaty selves. Over the years, starting in 1969, we’ve written & performed over 250 “ten-minute plays,” besides our full-lengths, so we have a fair repertoire to draw upon. Honing down from 250 to 8 will be a task, though invigorating if we think of all that work we DON’T have to do.
It’ll be this summer or fall and will cover as much of the USA as we can: theatres, house concerts, whatever. Benign curses upon you, Fred! (Trust your friends to cause you trouble.)