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!