Friday, December 9, 2011

Our Winter Solstice Event finds a new home...

This year we are moving our Winter Solstice performance from our seven year home at the Visitor's center at the Arnold Arboretum to the historic Loring-Greenough House nearby in Jamaica Plain. The reason for the move is that the newly hired director at the Arboretum wants only science-based programming at his facility and so I went looking for a new home for our annual Winter event. We couldn't just move to any location! We needed to find a space that could somehow rival this elegant tree sanctuary.

Today I walked into our new performance home, the Loring-Greenough House, and fell in love! To experience an old house requires all of our senses. From the unmistakably beautiful scent of age and time, to the feel under your feet of uneven floors married to the earth, to the visual delight of rooms filled with antiques and resonant with stories gone by is a rich thing.

Ed Stanley who met me there and who has welcomed us to this space also works as an appraiser of antiquities. "I work with antiques too," I said. "I go in search of old myths and polish them over time in hopes that they can resonate for us today."

"If I had to appraise a myth he said, "I would say it's priceless." On that subject and all the others about the set-up of the evening we were in full agreement!

I know our audience will love this new space and that these ancient myths will shine in these surroundings. I remember attending Robert Bly's talks and poetry readings in the 80's. He often spoke of the difference between soul and spirit. 'Soul lives in things like old wooden spoons,' he said. This house has SOUL.

Happily, my friend Katharine Cipolla, an amazing chef who also has a great sense of play in the kitchen, is going to come up with special intermission fare evocative of the season. Perhaps something based on Sweden's Santa Lucia's Day- breads with cardamom and saffron. For a centerpiece, a storytelling friend, Len Lipner, has loaned me an authentic St Lucia headdress (this headdress crowned the head of the young girl of the household as she descended the stairs on the morning of December 13th) Len also loaned recordings of traditional St. Lucia carols to be played at intermission.

Thanks to this new Evocative Place, the setting is SET. Now we move forward with our rehearsals of stories, songs and music traditional at this time of year...
Looking forward to an upcoming full sensory immersion!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Sense of Place

Summer 2011 was a busy one with over 40 performances at various venues. A grueling but satisfying journey but how would I find ways to ground myself in this onrush of places... I hardly felt like myself when I arrived at a venue. I was too much in transit.
Enter a new idea! BE ON THE LOOKOUT! The lookout for places "on the way" nature spots spots to walk in or contemplate to help me feel connected
I found such amazing little nature sites and as I look back over the summer those moments in nature come back to me with such sweetness. The deep pool of quiet water beside a rushing river in Rhode Island, A nature path I walked before a show where I saw the most unusual mushrooms and beetles. These places also gave me pause as I saw how everywhere people were preserving wild spaces. It was a heartening experience for a conservationist like me.
To be on the LOOKOUT also turned out to be a great idea for the foodie in me.
I saw a road side sign that said SQUASH BLOSSSOMS and celebrated the moment by pulling over at Aquilantes a little diner-like restaurant in Rhode Island with lots of heart. I could not resist these little gems they fried and stuffed these blossoms with delicate cheese and a lemon sauce. "Where do you get your zucchini blossoms from?" I asked the waitress. "Oh from a sweet little old Italian lady. She brings them every year." Perfect!! I was Walking Local Eating Local and this on the road teller got to support so many things local to being wherever I was on the road.
The summer was filled with other moments of wonder. Eating roadside peaches by the side of the road in Granville Mass. They burst open with juice and flavor. Next year I will return there at the same time even if I don't have a job there!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Three Little Pigs and the VideoGameBoy Wolf

I've begun an inner city (inner Boston) storytelling residency which I'm enjoying very much. Lots of challenges- There are sweet moments and there are days when my learning curve is very steep.

I often begin my residencies by having students re-tell a classic folktale either Goldilocks or The Three Pigs. Much to my surprise, when one of my students re-told The Three Pigs it soon became apparent that within it is the structure of a video game.

First of all note that we have the three LEVELS. Pig ONE who builds his house out of STRAW is LEVEL ONE. Pig TWO who builds his house out of STICKS is LEVEL TWO and Pig THREE the ULTIMATE who builds his house out of BRICKS is LEVEL THREE. If the wolf succeeds at all three levels it turns out that he can incinerate everything in a fireball. As the story was told we met the wolf. Obviously the "player" who the person playing is supposed to identify with. At the the beginning the wolf only has LASER EYES that he can use to demolish the first pigs house!! But after he demolishes the first pigs house he gets additional powers and his hands become SPIKEY MITTS!!! If he succeeds there he gets the ability to BREATHE FIRE. And the whole PigDom goes down in flames. Of course there is now no moral to the story! Just a progression. I guess that's progress for you!