In the best traditions of Polyform beginnings, I enclose here the first of the mass e-dispatches which lead me to consider the revivification of this site. More forthwith.
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I'm touring "Ride the Red Mare" with Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre at the moment. This trip takes me into the heartland of Interstate America, where ranch-style prefab architecture reigns, where everyone speaks and eats in a culture of Super-Sized bonhomie, neon bright with potbellies and bleach-blondes and HBO and bumper-sticker patriotism. This could be Ohio, or Florida, or Oklahoma, or Nevada. Last night my castmate, my director and myself walked down a busy street somewhere off I-82 and picked up rolls and mangoes from a Mexican paneceria, while the low single-story skyline glowed and shone with purples and ochres. Las Siete Mares, Mexican Seafood. Black Angus Steakhouse. Les Schwab Tires. Motel 6.
This won't come as much of a surprise to you, but I've realized now more than ever how much I love and rely on my French press-pot and my stainless-steel thermos, my fancy little ipod and my seals and stamps for my letters. Traveling blurs the lines of my self, peeling back the sooty layers of complacency and poking the new bits to grow and change, and I'm finding how invaluable the small tokens--toys, really--are to this process. My pocket watch. A squirt gun. Rice paper. I need these small things to hold on to while the bigger stuff shifts and moves, like Howl's Moving Castle picking up and crawling a hundred miles up the freeway. I need to write my letters and walk in the dusty daylight, without which the indescribable sadness of these endless overpasses and off-ramps and barren homes and empty eyes would kill me.
We've had our first couple of performances with real-life audiences now; 500+ grade school kids per show, enthralled and rapturous to see live puppet theatre coming into their gyms. Today, after a show here in Kennewick, I walked into the principal's office to wrap up some paperwork and a cluster of 3rd-graders looked at me like I was Elijah coming down from his fiery chariot. Make no mistake; the expression on their faces alone is reason enough to get up every morning at the very nub and hint of daylight to haul a van full of lights and puppets halfway across the state. These are the most honest and engaged audiences ever: they're like the groundlings in Shakespeare's Globe, talking back to the characters and advertising their affections and distastes with wild abandon. They squeal and giggle and moan, their whole bodies shake and dance with emotion. I love kids. Who knew children's theatre could be so much fun?
Listening to: Lucinda Williams and Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Beethoven string quartets and Koko Taylor and Jack Johnson and Ray Charles. Reading: When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: Islam under the Abassid Caliphate by Hugh Kennedy; Tamburlaine Part II by Christopher Marlowe; Same Difference and Other Stories by Derek Kirk Kim. Eating: plums.
I'm in the Tri-Cities now, performing 5 shows in three days. This weekend I'm back in Portland for about 48 hours, and then it's off to Idaho. Send me your snail-mail credentials if you want a letter from the road; likewise, let me know if you'd rather not be bombarded with these occasional mass e-dispatches. You should know how highly I regard you, how much I miss you, how I wish things could be better for us all.
love lifts us up where we belong,