Our New Blog…
For some time we’ve confined public speech about our non-theatrical lives to Facebook posts or party chat. We’re heavily into writing prose fiction, and certainly lots of hot sauce goes into that, as it has with our plays. Still, stuff burbles to the top, whether in the lava pools of Yellowstone or the pan of oatmeal on the stove.
Therefore, DamnedFool.com. It’s slightly embarrassing to launch a blog when everyone else is doing it, and when Be-a-Writer workshops are telling you how to put the “hook” into the query letter and that a modern-day Dostoevsky could never get an agent without a “platform.” Neither of us ever bought the tee-shirt of any subculture that we were a part of. But when you gotta blog, you gotta blog.
So for this past month, starting at the clang of New Year’s, we’ve posted weekly on Sundays. Let’s see how long we can meet the deadline. Elizabeth writes a blurb, I write one, and there’s a message from a creature we channel collectively: the Damned Fool.
He emerged from our current work on King Lear. Lear’s Fool is a jokester, a tormenter, an acid sweetheart. He has no capacity to influence the course of the tragedy, yet he stands there and gets rained on. I see him not as a plaintive, fey creature but as a frizzy-headed, red-schnozzed burlesque comedian, Don Rickles gone to seed, with slight cataracts. How much of that feeds into the Fool of our blog I’m not sure. He’s still finding his voice.
Subjects are all over the map, as we are. One week we may be celebrating the joy of life; next week it’s Why bother? That’s just the way we live life. Anyway, tune in. If you want to receive it weekly, hit the Follow button. And leave comments if you so desire.
Three showings coming up in early March, and an East Coast tour in late summer, culminating in shows at the Ko Festival in Massachusetts. A few more performances likely as well in the North Bay, and still hoping to promote a few in Southern California — some nibbles, still no bites.
Frankly, it’s odd. I think we’ve had stronger response to this piece than anything we’ve ever done. Despite its being rife with grief, loss, frustration, death, Gifts seems to be the most “feel-good” show we’ve ever done. Afterwards, we’re approached with transfigured faces. And yet… After 29 showings, it’s very difficult to find hosts.
Not sure why. In the old days, we’d get $2,000 for a show: this show is free. Theatre, of course, is an afterthought for most people. And there’s the anxiety of offering it to your friends, even if you’ve seen it yourself: what if you’re wrong and they hate it? There’s the sheer inertia: I’m tired, I’ll have to clean up the place, what if people don’t show up? We make no claims to better your health or save the planet. It’s just deeply-felt art. And that may be a deterrent too: deeply-felt art is great, but not in my living room.
So we’re pushing that as far as we can. Email if you’d like to pursue possibilities. If you don’t have space, team up with someone who does. Help expand the bounds of theatre to the immediate and the here.
January was the beginning of the work. March 2015 will be the culmination. This month it’s text work, memorizing most of the first act, making basic construction plans on the set, buying a bald wig for Elizabeth’s Fool, starting the sculpting of several characters, and staging the first few scenes with puppets gleaned from our collection — Goneril represented (very badly) by Mister Punch, Edmund by Victor Frankenstein.
It’ll be a duo show, myself as Lear, Elizabeth as the Fool, and about 30 puppets, in a space no larger than our living-room Gifts performance but with the Fool on the keyboard of a pretty complex tech.
Hoping to do an ongoing production blog on our website, as with The Tempest, but haven’t quite caught up with ourselves — we’ll announce it when we do. Lately, there seems to be a sudden outburst of Lear productions: an aging population in English-speaking lands? threats to Social Security? a growing urge to question the blindness of power?
Each day I take a half hour walking home from the gym and coffee on the downtown square, and as I walk I work on memorizing lines. It’s very slow, utterly exasperating, and yet a special premium: a master class in the rhythms and textures of the language. Each time you paraphrase, you get jerked back to a truer, more pungent way of saying it. The study is the gift.