Wednesday, July 28, 2010

'Go Tell It On The Mountain'

Very strange day today, but not without its amusements, its struggles, and its cloudy skies. As I mentioned, Sean arrived from LA, and we are busy with the pre-production formalities, even though initially, there isn't any money to put the play up. So, we innovate. We are doing a dinner/theatre event on the Saturday night show, with a $25 ticket. The other three shows are ten dollars a ticket, but if we can pre-sale enough we can cover the cost of the show. Right now, Tracee, Sean, and myself are working for free, that cuts a huge chunk of a production budget. All the canvas, (which is substantial) is being donated. The crew, house management, etc. will be on a voluntary basis. Anselm's hill, (On the Thompson Ledge where we are doing the show) is free to use. The twenty-five teepee poles I need are already there. I have my own lights and sound system. There is no royalty or house fee for the playwright or director, (that's me.) Can you begin to see how a delusion of grandeur works in spite of 'the grandeur?' Programs, fliers, posters, press releases, etc., all generated from a macbook and printed out in my humble home.

This afternoon, after working this morning, I put in Ed Harris's, 'Pollock'. It was either a bad idea or a good one, and I'm not completely sure why I broke into tears at several parts, I only know on this day I knew exactly what was going on with Jackson Pollock. Although each artist's struggle is a little different, as they say in AA, if you go to enough meetings you will eventually hear your own story from someone else. I'm no Jackson Pollock, but I recognized several of the symptoms that encompass the lifestyle and the struggle. Insecurity, self-sabotage, alcoholism, broken relationships, poverty, rejection, criticism, etc., its all there in that film. Ed Harris does an amazing job in the role. I watched it because Sean brought books and films! In the mix were the books, 'The American Saga of Jackson Pollock', and 'The Alchemist', which suddenly appeared after my mother had been touting the journey of Paul Coleho, the writer. Sean and I have had a great time discussing books, plays, theatre, film, art, and 'the struggle'. The other night, it felt like a great weight lifted, just to be able to share a sudden resurgence of all of these subjects. Although I don't feel my energy is as strong this summer, I feel like doing the play will help increase it. Its like in all things working out, there is always a price to pay for the benefits. Each night, we sit on the porch staring at the Thompson Ledge where the journey will take place. Last night, I also watched the documentary, 'Best Fiend'. (not friend, btw) about the film maker Werner Herzog and his collaboration with actor and activist Klaus Kinski in his films. Kinski not only wounded a crew member firing his gun into a tent on one of the films, but went on two hour rants on a daily basis. Funny to watch, horrifying to think about. A film, a play, an opera, a painting, can be a great adventure rife with unforeseen variables. You do, however, learn that from experience, you can circumvent many of the pitfalls that behoove any artistic endeavor. (at least we won't have to pull a ship over a mountain like Herzog did in his film, even though it may feel like that at times.)

This Saturday night, I'm doing 'Bohemian Cowboy' at The Escalante Outfitters. I have been struggling to get back into the intense vortex that begins to activate with doing this play. I haven't done the play since the first of February, and even though all signs are not pointing to disaster, there is a little trepidation and of course, the ever present 'actor's nightmare'. (For those who haven't heard this term before, an actor's nightmare is a dream about a performance where you are on stage but can't remember any of your lines.) The next two days will be consumed with the management, re-memorizing parts, the transport of the technical aspects, and all other things theatre on a stage twenty-eight miles away. I also got a chastising e-mail today from a source of the funding for this play. It didn't feel very good to be taken to the woodshed. There is a famous quote from Hollywood that you have probably heard, "What have you done for me lately?" Oh my readers, if ever there was a truer quote I do not know what it is. Success breeds an array of good will, good times, and inspired rantings of praise. Failure is the forgotten step-child that suddenly loses all manner of visible, (and invisible) support. All one can do is laugh and continue on. Cache is fleeting at best, and all success is met with an even more challenging expectation to repeat itself, only on an even more elevated level. In a nutshell, success fleets into the nearest black hole very quickly, and I'm sorry, Utah, but it fleets faster in this state. I did some research, pay for musicians here is near the bottom of the union. 'The Arts', are hobbies, not vocations in this state. Now, I know, if you don't like it, get out. No, I'm not leaving…yet. There are of course, exceptions to the rules. My theory on some of this confusion has to do with the protocol of 'service work' in the church, which permeates most of the culture. A song is to be sung for the pleasure and service of the audience, not for the lively hood of the musician. Still, in this beautiful place, the virtue outweighs the variable, and for now, I have a play to do on a mesa.

To my mother, I do appreciate the great fight and concern over your son's lively hood, which at present ceases to be very lively, however, I have survived more daunting horizons. (And know that there is still good humor in my spirit.) Yes, it's true, as I continue on this quest I continue to tax friends, family, and the United States government, wait, (The US government is taxing me.) Through all of this, however, a strange evolution is happening to me. Whether this evolution is good or bad, (I think it good), I'm finding a healthy indifference in the perpetual quest to succeed for everyone else's desire and time table. Perhaps its age, perhaps it is that I am finally learning that the pleasing sound of the lute does not have to include my circle of friends and acquaintances, (a lute is a strange Shakespearean instrument anyway). I am also learning that this 'money gathering' for funding is not something I was willing to do when I was younger on this personal of a scale. As my education continues, although I don't believe in entitlement, I am becoming more fearless in my pursuit of believing that I have paid some pretty hefty dues to be relentless in my requests, and oddly, unashamed. (A society that does not fund art eventually becomes a fascist state, by the way) Further, I reached a conclusion after this year's heritage festival that rang very true. Giving people what they want and then, giving them what they need are two very different animals. The need part here is tricky because it pre-supposes that the 'giver' has a greater understanding of what people actually need. (People who are always given what they want tend to always talk about which way the wind is not blowing), but giving them what they need, in the end, is a necessary variable. If I am an engineer building a bridge, society will accept my course of action into the needs of that bridge rather what the people want, because as that engineer, I know best how to achieve that. It isn't any different in any vocation, (although most people think they are experts in a multitude of vocations, like arts and sports for example) Circumventing the wants of a culture, and giving (with gentle spoon) what they need tends to create some conflict, but it also creates rhetoric which evokes change. THE VERY PURPOSE OF ART.

Of course, this does not pre-conclude my own questions, am I asking for what I want, or am I already getting what I need? I'll trust in the universe to answer that question for me. Universe? Bring it, I will accept your decision…

In the meantime, as I assess these needs, I will continue to accept my circumstances, trust in my skill as one who innovates, forgive my peers, family, and friends, for some real bridge building ignorance, and I'll continue to mine the fruits of the ever present quote in my life from the film, 'The Tao of Steve', "retreat and be excellent'.

Today I was at the coffee shop, and met a man who first, thanked me for the music he'd heard me play, and secondly, noticed that everywhere he'd been to hear music I had been there in some form playing. He asked me if I was trying to make a living playing music. Wonderful, wonderful Bobbie answered for me, and bless her for this, she said, "He's also a playwright and is one Boulder's gems…" I will never forget that, Bobbie, and on a day when I so needed to hear that. I quickly told him a history of trying to step back into the 'free-lance' world of 'making a living' occupying an arts vocation, and that for ten years before this, I had taught at an arts high school. I'm not really sure if that cache is completely spent, but it's starting to feel that way. However, is the pressure on? Is the clock starting to wind down in the tireless pursuit of a modest life plan bringing art to our fair society? Is it time for plan B? For so many, as my poverty level hustles another meal, plan B was beckoning long ago. Hahaha! Plan B is not to come anytime soon, my ex or present patrons, I will persevere, and I will do a play on a mountain. I may be called crazy and chastised again by those who would seek to dissuade me. (I think I listened to way to much Kasinski last night) However, I have a feeling that many of you will meet me on that mountain, and that for one mystical evening, when you are sitting in a theatre space on that mesa out in the desert and watching a play after I have served you dinner, you will briefly join me in my quest, and you will take a small part of it home with you…

On some practical issues, Mom, thanks for the forty bucks, I bought food, and again, am oddly unashamed. Secondly, my phone charger broke in mid phone call, it may be several days before phone communication ensues again. Thirdly, know that I am excited about my latest venture, and I'm sure, God will find the balance for me in what I want and what I truly need…

5 comments:

caroline said...

So when are you doing the show up at Anselm's? would love to see how it has evolved back where you first showed it to BTown...

Gerry said...

I didn't do much of a fight since I was not there so did not know what I could reasonably fight about, but a word or two or a gesture can go a long ways. I did write that I would commit $100 to the show, which I will send as soon as the next month comes on. I have actually not contributed much actual moneys to your enterprises, but am prepared to do so if I think the need and the art is there. I have appreciated all the efforts presented to me in the festival and responded with review and video. I will send a video to Cheryl as it appears to be hard to get those in Boulder of my reading of Ann and Linda's "the unsung women of the west" and lauding of "the Women".
It was synchronicity that your friend would include "The Alchemist" which is the very book by Paul Coelho I was going to look for, however I am going to chec out the price of this bio I read as I think you would find it of tremendous interest. I also have come up on a book of the autobiographical writings of Franz Kafka and many letters he wrote which I will pass on to you in time that I think is an absolute treasure and is so illuminating about Kafka, called "I am a Memory Come Alive". Read "Somme" and you will be thankful for the life you have been privileged to live!

kanyonlandking-annk.blogspot.com said...

You will indeed be grateful you can live and act...after reading Somme! I hope people in town will come to the outfitters for your play. Remember you ARE the pot of gold...

kanyonlandking-annk.blogspot.com said...

Raymond, just curious...where are you doing the dinner theatre? Is that at Outfitters too? I hope all went well!

vooman's voice said...

I have enjoyed reading about your new projects. I hope you have great success. Maybe you will make it back to S.F. again with one of your shows. You talent for orginazing and putting up a show should not be ignored. Lucky!