We’ve probably used that header in our newsletters a half dozen times over the course of 42 years, since it’s so often applicable. So here we go again. This Friday, early morning, we head for Los Angeles, staying with friends and narrating a bit of a puppet film he’s shooting. Then on Saturday, to San Diego to prepare for our first King Lear since the Northwest tour in November, now a return engagement with San Diego Puppet Theatre, where we appeared in their festival last year.
A few days’ layover, giving us time for a visit to friends in Tucson we haven’t seen for ages, and then to Phoenix for Lear at Great Southwest Puppet Theatre. Again, some visits to old friends, and showings in Albuquerque and Taos. And then home.
Lear gets laid off a while, then returns with a bang. It’s only had a couple of showings in our immediate home, but we’re making up for that. From June 15th thru July 2nd, we’ll be performing at Main Stage West in Sebastopol. We’re truly thrilled to be there again. It’s the stage where we presented The Tempest and Drake’s Drum as well as short runs of Dream House, Survival Tips, and Hot Fudge, and it’s the ideal space for King Lear.
Local patrons may also remember Elizabeth for her role as Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey into Night, though as Lear’s Fool, with a red nose, a bald wig, and a ratty attitude, she may appear somewhat different.
Our trip to the Pacific Northwest was special. A performance in Portland, jointly sponsored by Tears of Joy and Hand2Mouth theatres, in a space directly under a freeway, which actually gave us some lovely accompaniments to the storm scene. Then a packed house with the Portland State University Theatre Dept. in Monmouth, along with a workshop next day, and a chance to see a friend’s powerful staging of Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal.
Then to Vashon Island, in Puget Sound, and several days’ layover in the studios of Umo and on the sweet funky island itself, and a goodly showing before heading home and into the swamp of … well, the election. Best
Best that can be said of that (solely my personal opinion, no offense intended) is that after playing King Lear about 60 times, you get kinda used to the notion of disastrous misrule—no big surprise.
New Workings Afoot…
Two weeks ago, we started work on a new piece, working title Survival. It’s a solo clown piece for Elizabeth, a kind of follow-up to her Dream House, but the clown is an amalgam of that Bozo, Lear’s Fool, and whatever unexpected personae emerge from rehearsals and whatever existential absurdities present themselves in the next six months.
The genesis of Survival, I guess, was in our sense of the pervasiveness of what I might term “Armageddon Consciousness” in our lives, not only on the news—cutting-edge ways to achieve the death of the Planet—but in sci-fi and superhero entertainments, local bulletin boards, casual conversations, you name it. There seems to be a new toxicity-of-the-week, and obviously the mood of our little deep-blue community hasn’t been lifted by recent events. Question is, how to respond?
For myself, I have a renewed appreciation for Aristophanes, the 4th Century BCE master of comedy, who wrote during the darkest days of the Peloponesian War, the beginning of the death throes of Athenian empire. He’s best known for his Lysistrata, where the women on opposite sides of the war join on a sex strike against the men, resulting in peace. Fantasy, of course. In all his plays, the satire is vicious (Socrates doesn’t fare well in The Clouds), and the endings, well, wishful thinking at best. But right now, I feel, maybe we need wishful thinking. Or maybe we need to call it something else: hope.
In our novel Realists, an impossible happy ending is engineered by the Universe’s vilest alien species. I don’t see this in any way as a betrayal of reality: some of our other work could surely win the prize for “Most Depressing.” But the same guy who wrote King Lear—a play of hideous reality—also wrote The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale—the ultimate works of renewal, hope, resurrection … and wishful thinking. We would aspire to that.
We have no set date for Survival—maybe some workshop showings in late spring, maybe summer. But I think it shows promise. We’ll be crafting it as a house-concert show, like our Gifts, workable for theatres but suited to living rooms with ten to thirty folks and wine & snacks afterwards. I’m a sucker for a glass of good wine.