The Independent EyeGifts

Gifts is a duo show with Bishop & Fuller playing characters vaguely resembling themselves, plus puppets, objects, an electric sander, a steering wheel, and a pepper grinder. They revisit stories that are metaphors drawn from a life together, an interplay of love, loss, aging, change, and gift. A young couple are trapped on an endless freeway leading them back, at last, to another try at Life. A mid-life dream of a prestigious award dissolves into begging for scraps and sanding a rusty fence, but culminates in a banquet of riches. Elders moving into a third-floor walkup discover gods in a cardboard box and accept their very strange gift.

Created and performed by Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller

Premiered at the Eye Studio, Sebastopol, CA, on March 29-31, 2013.
Produced by The Independent Eye. Funded in part by a grant from Theatre Bay Area and Dancers Alliance.

From our audience:

Your performance was stellar. What you evoked by your writing, acting, and puppetry and simple yet profound gestures was exquisite. These plays are the culmination and integration of your art. Thanks so much for an unforgettable, intimate evening.

Thank you so much for your dreamlike and powerful creation Gifts. You managed to weave between the mundane and the ecstatic, and gifted each of us who were lucky enough to have attended last night. Some highlights: racing hearts – lost and in labor on a remote freeway; the rollercoaster of loving over a lifetime; the power of the Gods; the beauty of it all; and warmth everywhere.

Gifts left me filled with story. Conrad and Elizabeth segued scenes, made set changes and moved into new worlds before I was done laughing or wondering at the last. Finally, their crazymadwonderful interpretation of the Philemon and Baucis story was strange and moving as they progressed from discussing the story to enacting the story, to vividly embodying the very trees into which the innocent lovers metamorphosed. Their expression of the consciousness of the old loves, now becoming, now being two trees, intertwined, was dreamy and mystic. The dreamy chant that completed the transformation and the show was nothing short of magical, drawing us all into the common reality of our elements, our shared being, evoking a longing for love as deep as theirs.

The theatricality, the transformations, flights, magical use of props, space and relation to audience and each other—all were wonderful, masterful, seamlessly full of genius. … Of course, thre fluency of your performance together as a duet was remarkable, and the writing just could not be beat—world-class stuff.

I was going to tell you that indeed it is a unique and captivating show. Puppetry is so rare of a treat, neat. It shows the closeness of your working partnership and skills.

I still feel the glow… It was deep. It was fun. It was a marvelous adventure in wildly imaginative theatre, yet expressing universal human experience. I am always astonished by the power of the puppets to transport me into their world.

I enjoyed the play, and I keep thinking about it, very haunting and beautiful in its honesty and vulnerability.

Thank you so much for sharing your Gifts with me and the rest of the audience. I had a an amazing time and probably laughed too loudly in such a small space.

I can only agree with all the kudos for Gifts. I stand and cheer you with tears in my eyes and laughter in my heart— and a lovely acorn in my hand.

I found Gifts absolutely, deeply, delightedly moving. I experience it as part of the call of all beings on earth to heal this odd two-legged species so that life can thrive and sanity prevail. Part of the broken age that is ending is a pathological weirdness about aging and death. Part of the thousand years of healing that comes next is a loving, individually unique relationship to both. What you showed us, with courage, grace, and enormous generosity, is a gift supporting each of us in sidestepping our family demons of fear and confusion into something healthy, clear, humorous and at peace.