— From EF —

I have a problem going to see live theatre, because that’s my life. It’s what I do, what I have always done, and I expect to feel like family when I walk in the door. With our most recent Lear tour, I was acutely aware that many, if not most, of the people walking in to sit for our incendiary 100 minutes were not expecting what they got. The fact that all these audiences surrendered to the experience was astonishing and enlivening. That felt good.

We don’t go to see live theatre much, in part because it’s so pricey. I have gone to some productions grudgingly, because we got a deal, and found myself responding big-time. But other times I find myself wondering, am I in the right place? Is this what I want theatre to be?

We dedicate ourselves to creating an experience of the immediate. It’s right there, it’s right now, and any response you have is valid. I think of the ancient fire-circles, the bards and storytellers, and that’s my goal. What is given, binds.

A lot of what I see now is brittle, distanced, patterned to a laugh-track. And it gets response — audiences are enjoying it. But are they? Tonight at the intermission I heard, “Well, it sounds better than when reading it.” Is that a bond?

I want the fire-circle. I want community. I want Grandma’s story, even if it makes me weep. I want the recognition that the story shared goes back into the echoes of the generations. I want my tribe.

So when I see theatre as a clever, brittle cross-current of cutting edges, I can’t make it to the finish line. Please excuse my half-time exit.

— From CB —

Friday I took an hour off from the panic of preparing for a trip, went and had coffee downtown. Walking back, I stopped at the bookstore to check for a book I couldn’t get at the library. The store, surprisingly, was packed with customers. Then I realized: oh, Black Friday.

Black Friday. The term, apparently, goes back a while — originally, one version goes, the first day merchants saw their revenues “in the black” — but it’s only in recent years that it became an utterly unavoidable part of the language. Once, we of the enlightened classes could sneer at it as an excretion of Wal-Mart and Best Buy — the High Holy Day of Mammon, the frantic fartulous blurt of consumerism sucking the face of the Earth.

Ah those good old days. Now, this past week, I’ve gotten offers of Black Friday specials from theatres, literary magazines, the SF Symphony, New Age healers… The list goes on.

I do understand. When you need money, you get it where you can. If a theatre can’t make it through ticket sales, they’ll do it selling T-shirts, coffee mugs, wine, or anything that moves. They’ll lure millionaires onto their boards, sell naming rights, produce A Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker till Scooge’s nuts are cracked. Sometimes it doesn’t pay off — in the 80s there were experts claiming that theatres could make a bundle licensing their shows to the new maw of Cable TV —but as an artist you seek lunch in every blind alley, even if you only find rats. So, sure, I understand.

And yet. To follow a day of (at its best) comradeship and gratitude and celebratory reunion with something termed Black Friday? About as appropriate as Good Friday denoting the day when a messiah was tortured & crucified. Does this bizarre inversion tell us something?

Turns out they didn’t have the book, so I was saved from the self-disgust of shopping on Black Friday. A cup of coffee doesn’t count.

— From the Fool —

This morning I was startled to see a lot of frost on my car’s windshield. It almost never frosts here. But then I realized I wasn’t here. I was someplace else.

So I rundled around in the trunk and found a scraper. And I scraped.
It was cold and I didn’t have gloves, so I’d scrape with one hand and then scrape with another, but it left little jags of frost that I had to scrape off, and I got pretty cold fingers before it was finally done.

Then I realized, wait, it’s not my car. I don’t have a car. I don’t drive. I’ve just violated nine points of the law.

I tried to stick the frost back on the window, but it wouldn’t stick. It flaked off. One more thing to worry about.

I don’t always have a strong grip on Reality. Like holding raw oysters: too firm a hand and they just squirt out.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2015

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