Thursday, August 28, 2008

prosperity and poverty

Those are good notes, Emily, thanks! Just like being there!
I haven't been thinking about the fleece much. It seems like such an awkward item. Are others thinking about it and what it means a lot? Is it going to be in the story? Something was said pertaining to it about gaining at the expense of others, and it was weird because lately I have been thinking about that Idea a lot. It seems to me like people walk around as if there were a limit to wealth. Is this what we believe? Does having something mean that someone else can't have something? Can one be rich without making others poor?
When is next meeting?
Amy t

Storyboard II...You reap what you sow

As I did not attend the Argonauts movie, some of the references are beyond me, but I've tried to remain faithful, in as much as I can remain faithful, to what was said during the meeting! Feel free to add comments, corrections, etc as I inevitably will have misunderstood or misconstrued the motives and concepts of those others who were present. Meeting included Emily, Mark, Douglas, Soozin, Malia, Tara, Violet and some amazingly salted tomatoes and cucumbers. Ahem.
The meeting convened at around 8:20, and began with vague expectations for the meeting. Things like, hey it should be a 45 min show and maybe 5 sections of 10 minutes each or so were posed. So now, and with full warning that this may not make entire sense, I will transcribe my notes.
The (argonauts) film didn't tell the whole story anyway, there are a million versions of this story because it's a myth. So, where to begin with the story in the show?
The gods conspiring and manipulating in true marionette fashion? Personally, I'd like to see a giant stone fist chasing and smashing everyone like in that one movie Mark and I both know but the title escapes us, but nobody else got it. Anyway, Soozin referenced Dave Pitman and liked the idea of using a scrim of some sort that could be both retractable and mobile, screen worlds governed by rear projection, possible incorporating shadow puppetry into the projections. This might be a good option for long shots, epic battles seen from afar, et cetera.
What is the myth, what the hell IS the fleece? Why are the guardians guarding it? Well, Douglas says, the fleece began its life, as fleeces do, as a lamb. An airborne lamb with an impressive wingspan who was sent by the gods to intercede when a father was going to sacrifice his son. Familiar, eh? Biblical even. Abraham and Issac anyone? Okay so the lamb takes off with the boy and his sister, but she falls off and he survives, but for some reason the people kill the lamb and hang its skin up on a tree. Again, salvation, crucifixionesque themes, lamb of god, paschal lamb, scapegoating. The Catholics in the room should be getting this. But it's a short walk from the classical mythology to the Biblical tales, isn't it. So, why do these people kill the savior? Sacrifice of the instrument that stopped the original sacrifice. But that story lacks monsters so we might not even include it.

Contemporary Golden Fleece= Control, prosperity at the poverty of others. The fleece might not even be all that important, really, it's the quest that's the point! Jason struggles to prove his manliness and his mettle. Power is never given, it is stolen. Ha! So, where does this story take us? To the magical end of the world. It is a trajectory away from the familiar, away from childhood, (although Jason is pretty damn helpless at times), and towards the exotic, the barbaric, only to return home having found that the familiar is more barbaric than the barbarians. The Argo heads off to a series of Islands which might represent the ages of man, the chapters of weird vices and bloodred sobs that characterize the 'coming of age'. We look in the mirror with horror and incomprehension and then we stop looking. Or maybe smash it. It's an ordeal, this growing-up thing.
So, we return again to the beginning. Do we begin with Jason as an old man, about to be crushed beneath the ancient rotting hulk of a ship poised above him (it's kind of like a metaphorical giant stone godlike fist!) Do we being with the gods arguing, with a prophecy ,with the olympic competition for who gets to go on the Argo, with some folks on a boat?
Alright, enough of this uncertainty, Soozin says, 5 episodes, we need an intro, three episodes and a finale of some kind. How the hell will we do this? The Chorus will serve, much like in Innana's Dissent, to chapter the tale, to clarify the chaos, and to give some wicked good songs.
Suddenly Mark announces that the image of the Fire-Breathing Bulls yolked to a plow, ferociously snorting as Jason scatters the hydra's teeth, which erupt into skeletons, is something he wants to see. It's both harvest-timey and Dia de los Muertos. All in one! Douglas, reading deeper into the political possibilities, envisions ethanol being a factor, Mechanistic bulls maybe? Fuel as food. Burning your food for fuel while the neighbors starve. Agrobusiness heinous transgressions of late. GMOs. Death seeds. Malia has a vision: Long snakey white vines that burst forth from the gound and bloom with skull lanterns. The vines entwine people, strangle them, or trap them...But what does it all mean? Jason duels death by making it kill itself, but death can never die. So, maybe we need to make our peace with it. But that sounds sappy, we need hungry ghosts, vanquished warriors who perished in the quest Jason is even now pursuing! But where did those teeth seeds even come from?
Hydra. Mark likes the idea of the hydra as a sort of water goddess, snakes for arms and heads and skirts, Is this an agriculture goddess? Snakess, water demon lady?
Yet again, the chaos is tempered by the determination to get something somewhat concrete out of this meeting. So, Soozin asks, what is this story? 1) Flying lamb saves the kids and is killed. 2)Jason raised by centaur, wisdom and warcraft and outdoor survival. 3) Jason is old enough to claim what's 'his', on his way meets up with an old lady who may or may not be Hera incognito, helps her across, loses his sandal 4) Finally meets his usurping, or not usurping, uncle and his uncle send him on a quest that Jason himself is responsible for picking, and the n he leaves. So then
The Islands, or, more accurately, The Misfortunes
Island where jealous wives have killed their cheating husbands and for good measure all their children and now are just waiting for a convenient group of mostly men to arrive and take up house and hearth again. Temptation to stay. This isn't really a misfortune.
Island where there's the Sirens who lure the men. Temptation.
The Islands which are freaky crashing rocks. mark want s to see a crashing rock ballet
Then finally, there's all this madness with the three tasks set to win the fleece, the last of which is killing the skeletor warriors, I think. Once on the boat, Medea goes and kills her brother, chops him up and tosses his pieces like a trail of breadcrumbs behind them.
Soozin talks about the Georgia: Batumi (did I spell that right) is where the Golden Fleece originates. See Soozin for details.
The minute you gain insight in your life, you create your own destruction. Is this the message? How does this relate to the current election? The story could be seen as a succession crisis...the ancient election. Life out of balance leads to an unbalanced death. Like the election, the quest doesn't really matter, it's just another pony show. In the world of the Argo, colonization is popular. A handful of dirt, a flag justifies centuries of oppression for the natives, human and others.
A merry go-around: what we want to see in the show
Mark: the bulls, bulls, bulls! Skeletal teeth, Hydra has aspects of american culture, we sow our own ruin. Malcom X-The chickens coming home to roost.
Violet-Clashing rocks! Definitely have Medea as a badass party crasher, she invades the wedding and ruins the wedded bliss. Heh heh heh!
Tara-Harpies, starving creatures, Medea must atone for her sins. How do you right the wrongs? Justice vs. Attrition. Tribute to the gods.
Soozin-chorus and how to use it. Singing narration, music that moves plot forward, seasnake lady. Tribute. Altars.
Malia-A story simple enough for people to understand, disgestible, clear metaphors, seeds, reaping what you sow. Skulls and long trains of white fabric, puppeted together like a giant body. Argos and Jason as kids, maybe girl's circus.
Emily- Damn, I want to see this story not be about Jason. Maybe Medea, maybe a hydra, flaming bulls, dresses, crew and other things can tell the story their way. There is no objective story of what happened. Everyone covers up, elaborates. Fluid puppetry, people not hiding behind puppets or props, but bodies being a core part of them. People animating themselves as well as props or puppets, this is where the dance comes in.
Douglas-A tragedy! We rarely have them and this would be a good time. Heart of darkness, going into the savage unknown and finding out that you are just as terrible or worse than your worst nightmares.
Closing Notes:
Because I'm writing this, I'm putting in my opinions last:
The meeting went for around three hours and it felt circular at points, but I feel like we accomplished a lot in just knowing what people like and don't like. Obviously there were only a few people at the meeting and tons of opinions just with those few! Some want to keep the show mysterious and layered and complex, some want it to be clear and simple. Some people want the show all wholesome, some want it dark and tragic and creepy. Some want political meaning more than others, or in different areas. We're a diverse group. I personally do not want a happy, see it can maybe all work out if we care enough show. That's what Mayday is for. That's not a slur against Mayday, it's a reality of what spring offers, hope. This is the time of year when you reflect on the harvest, literally, when you reap what you've sown. It can be a joyful time if you've sown well, but realistically, everyone's stocking up food and strength for the coming winter. I'm not apocalyptic, I think life is beautiful. It's just that there's a beauty in the dark, the grotesque and the horrifying that I don't want to see whitewashed. Tragedy's popularity endures because being sad, scared or hopeless is essential to being human. Without it we're clean, pretty dolls, with nothing to give gravity to our experience. Anyway that's it. Give me tragedy and darkness.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

sorry I missed storyboard meeting

I hate it because I am stressed out about moving again and my brain just makes me forget things at times like this. Someone write about what happened!
I am totally inspired by images and the black dogs sound like very promising potential. Everyone knows I'm kinda into this harpie Idea and it would be a good year to do it, although I am not too keen about the role they play in the jason story. I like more the idea that they are children stealers. what could be more frightening? Maybe it speaks to my own fears as a former child( my mother was afraid of poeple kidnapping us) and of course as a parent the worst thing is to lose your child, to lose the control, the power to keep them safe. It is a most dreadful feeling.
What I see doing with the harpies my version, Is to have them on black stilts, with a simple black costume that suggests evil bird. I like the idea of the faces and bare chest being painted blue, with a beak and bird eyes either painted or a super simple and unencumbering mask. Because I want them to really move! Fast! To catch those children!! And there be ten of them. that would be spectacular.
If I made this happen I would need support for sure. Someone to choreograph. Other things. Believe in me. I see myself mostly getting the ball rolling by finding stilters willing to do this and practice. I would teach them to stilt proficiently before rehearsals start, and find a choreorapher and set up the rehearsal times and have them ready for fitting into the story. At that point I would let go and focus on costumes, and be available to do makeup for the shows.
They would go to the sunday rehearsals and work with the people who are in their scenes, but I would step back and let responsability rest on directors.
It would help me tremendously to know how much support I have, so I can start contemplating what to do. If not the harpies, then something else. I think there are so many exciting potential creatures to build, that I wouldn't mind not doing the harpies, really! I just thought I should let everyone know sort of the bigger vision so they can see if that would be cool or not. so let me know.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Story Board Meetings

Here are the dates for 2008 Halloween Story Board Meetings

Tuesday August 26th 8 - 10pm
Bedlam Theater Workshop

Tuesday September 2nd 7 - 9pm
Soozin's house email for directions.

Tuesday September 9th 7 - 9pm TBA

Thursday September 11th 7- 9pm TBA

Tuesday September 16th 7- 9 TBA

Friday September 18th 7-9 "KICK OFF" Bedlam Workshop

Soozin, Co-Director 2008 Halloween Show

Books & Stuff

Some research I shared at the last meeting.

If you want a short, authoritative summary of the story of the Argonauts pick up a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology (easy to find a copy at any used book store).

I've learned that the best known version of the story is an epic poem by Apollonius. I’ve since found a copy (translated by Peter Green) which is a good read though the tendency of Apollonius to drop the name of some obscure God, Goddess or Hero every other line means frequent trips to the Glossary.

There is a later version by the Roman author Valerius Flaccus that is seldom read.

The earliest version to have survived is by Pindar. Pindar’s brief retelling of the story is interesting because it was ostensibly written to commemorate a victory at the Olympics but was actually intended to pave the way for the pardon of a political exile by a King (who was Pindar’s patron). Pindar’s take on the story of the Argonauts was intended as propaganda in support of the King’s troubled dynasty (the King was the distant descendant of one of the Argonauts).

There was a recent play titled The Argonautika by Berkeley Repertory Theatre that had some interesting staging. Check out some photos here:

and here (puppets!)

I love their idea (not in the original text) of the character struck by Cupid’s arrow walking through the entire play with an arrow struck through her slowly bleeding to death (and nobody noticing!).



Mark's excited about. . .

Building a giant vulture roc, otherwise know as a ziz,an end of days bird that blocks out the sun with its wings

Last night there was a thought about somehow combining imagery of the hydra with imagery of a mexican god of fertility ad death aka Coatlicue ,

Ape image from a Kilmt painting (Beethoven Freize1902 Hostile forces detail) the Giant Typhoeus, " a hideous ape with serpent's tail and wings, terrifying atangonist of the gods"

The story of Chrysomallos a winged lamb that eventually acends into the night sky to become Ares but who leaves behind his fleece as a protection of those left behind aka the golden fleece.

Hecate like Diana traveling wooded groves withlarge black hounds and a band of ghosts.

Fire breathing Bulls yoked to plow and sow dragon teeth that turn into skeleton Army (aspects of the Jason story that are brilliant from a night pageant perspective .aaaaaaaaah what if the dragons teeth are seeds) one of his combo tests

Parada de Candi a bejeweled parade of Elephants (I would propose be candied elephants that actually throw candy perhaps 5 of them as an entrance begining or pre show)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

First Halloween Story Board Meeting 2008

In Attendance:  Soozin, Amy T., Mark, Douglas, Emily, Arwen
General notes from meeting ...  group discussed the need to have these initial meetings to brainstorm ideas for the show. Everyone was encouraged to participate but, not hold on to any idea to tightly as the Barebones process in many ways is an on going brainstorm  until the actual show is up and running.   The ability of the group to give and take is very important to the process.  We also had a short discussion on the production roles for the 2008 Halloween Show.  

In the past the brainstorm process has often begun with a big  Commmunity Brainstorm  held in June or July.   Because everything is starting later this year, a decision was made to start with a smaller group to come up with theme. Then extend the process for feedback and brainstorming to the lager group thought this Blog and a series of community meetings...hopefully the blog can be an open forum to add input and read about how the process is unfolding.
The brainstorm started with a review/ recap of the 2008 Barebones Retreat Notes...
Themes that were remembered were addiction, how are we addicted to things, what does addiction mean to us,  desert, deserted places,  war zones,  abandoned places, wastelands, t.s. elliot "waste land",  harpies, monsters......
Following the review... we moved into where we are now ... what is the interest of the group?  What images are people thinking about... story lines, themes....
  • Mark talked about researching and thinking about the giant mythological bird the " ZIZ" a Giant bird that is part of the end of days.  He has had some ideas of creating a giant bird that lays and egg and the cracking of the egg reveals an egg that hatches a giant chick... that has wings that can spread over the entire audience.    According to the Myths the "ZIZ"  had wings so large it could block out the sky.  Is a Hebrew and Syrian myth.
  • Soozin has been thinking about the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts.  Thinking about it in particular to the question what is the Golden Fleece and why are we questing for it?? Is this a for of addiction?  Especially thinking about how this might connect with current events// Four years ago we took everyone to the river with candles to call out their HOPES for the future as the NORNS took them to the other world.... this was all just days before the election.  If we are questing for the Golden Fleece... maybe a result is that the fleece really isn't the answer.  Maybe something that has to so with community... .... also Jason and the Argonauts has lots of possibilities for adventures.
  • What does this story have to do with the season... Halloween.... mark noted that the season is about the thinnest of the veil between the worlds  maybe the story is being told by skeletons or ghosts  showing us the age old stories and what has been important and finding ways to connect it to the present day.  
  • Emily the fantastic nature of the story is really great  .. has death, monsters....
  • Scariness is important!!
  • Mark heard lindsay this years show needs Vultures  .....
  • Amy T. is very interested in a quote from "Jason and the Argonauts" based on what the Harpies represent.
  • There were thoughts on the idea of doing a Greek Myth.... interesting.... Emily thinks it would be good to have a Greek Chorus.... maybe they could be singers announcing scenes??  
  • There have been a lot of comments about having more songs in the show... having a chorus... could be a good way to utilize this request...There was some discussion about not having togas as clothing... maybe making it more modern.. somehow this led to the dance styles . Something in this led to a discussion thinking about the dances of Isadora Duncan... pre modern dance??? created using toga style outfits... based on the ideas of freedom from corsets, health and wellness of women.
  • Could be good to incorporate Greek Music and Greek Dances
  • Arwen told an abbreviated version  of the Jason and the Argonauts story... which has numerous adventures or islands that the Argonauts travel to, which ends with Jason coming back to claim his kingdom and betraying Medea.
  • Douglas mentioned that the early story was not about Jason at all but the called the Argonauts... and was about the group and it challenges.   Douglas also mentioned that Julian was the first to introduce this story last year... but, had a different take on the story...
  • A thought was posed to the group to think about what is the scale of the show... is it human sized actor based?  or is it puppets large scale...???  maybe the Argonauts could be kids.. skewing the scale and making puppets seem even bigger????  Maybe these Argonauts are superheroes. Trick or treaters?
  • Towards the end of the discussion there was some  play on the idea of Medea and Media... our love hate with media...  
  • Is this part of television... a voice that comes from it ???? or cell phones  are we addicted to media???
  • The group then set up a schedule for future storyboard meetings.. These meeting will be held in two parts  7:30 -  8:30 discussion on the storyboard homework assignments,  8:30 - ? movie Jason and the Argonauts, version from the 60's.  We would like to show and watch different versions of the film at various locations and have community members come and watch them and help further the storyboard process.   
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday August 20th in the back yard of David Pitman, on the big screen as part of the Monoplex.  The address is 2224 26th Ave South.  Storyboard discussion 7:30 - 8:30,  Movie 8:30 on...
We are hoping to show other versions at Bedlam on Tuesday August 26th, and Sept 2.
Homework for this Wednesday August 20th .  Read the story of, " Jason and the Argonauts"  come with a story of one of the adventures you thought was particularly interesting.  Think about how to modernize, scale,  puppets, people (actors),  who are the audience in relationship to the your story?