family visits and grand canyons on planet circus

September 4, 2008

Luke and Casha have been here. They arrived during our first show and left huge rucksacks with us while we did second show and they had a typically crappy vegas type meal. Then home with us. They ensconced in the lounge sleeper and working to get internet access for all.

So finally up on stilts and in the show. A few days ago after a day’s rehearsal I performed the stilt section of Mr Kite. Still a bit tense in the upper body and tentative character presence but at least up and running. Also went to the Grand Canyon last weekend. About a five hour drive with stops for food etc. camped at a camping site. Luke and Daniel nearly became involved in an altercation with locals who scoff xenophobically at a man from the Czech republic. We make a fire, cook on Luke’s stove; a brilliant meal. Typically for camping it takes a long time and tastes like heaven when you finally get to it. Baked potatoes from the fire, mielies and mushroom garlic tomatoe sauce type stuff. I had brought my head torch luckily. Then we spent many giggly hours trying to stop ourselves waking the tented neighbours as we finished the beer and carried out experiments in long exposure photographs with Casha’s new camera and the torches. Much hilarity. Finally squeezed ourselves into the two man tent. Daniel and I totally ill equipped but by putting on all our clothes we managed to stay warm and without too many gone-to-sleep limbs. Woke with the light and departing neighbours. Planned the day, but came to a stop when we had to decide whether or not to spend the Wednesday night in the camp ground and then drive back Thursday morning with two shows that night. Much humming and haaing and toing and froing. Dan and I a bit concerned about the fatigue factor and poor sleep. Eventually I suggest a coin which we flip and it tells us we have to pack and leave which we do in twenty minutes then hit the Grand Canyon itself.

Truly beautiful and very grand and fascinating fractal structure which reminds one of the same kind of erosion on a micro level in ditches and dongas in Africa. The layers of rock exposed call the lie in the young earth creationists’ view that god made all this in 40 days during the flood. A number of vultures and then huge condors treat us with a number of close fly bys which we snap away at. They are so close we can read the numbers on their wing tags. Majestic graceful and incredibly ugly faces. We have some food at a kiosk and then head off home. I drive half the way and fade. Daniel drives the rest into the night and the entry into Vegas. Past the Hoover Dam which looks at night like a Mars landscape of construction. The scene is over looked by a very very high bridge nearing completion over the gorge. Bright lights and sci fi feel. We get back and spend some more time with delay shutter speed light experiments and hilarity. Casha’s drawing skills and surety of line make for some exquisite designs. The next day is Daniels birthday. Presents and breakfast and celebration. More hilarity and then two shows. Back into the week. Luke and Casha have some down time.

For want of some inspiration here is some more Sgt Pepper track. We left him in the parade celebrating the return to lie through reinvented music. At the end of this the stage shifts psychadelically into Within You and Without You as the bed releases a huge piece of white cloth which all the characters and dancers and acrobats extend out over the audience. Hallucinatory lighting on the huge sheet evoke a kind of acid trip feel for George Harrison’s song. The effect is stunning but it is hard work for the artists to lug the awkward thing around. This then magically disappears into the floor. The four young Nowhere boys are lifted on the bed along with the demonic swinger from kite nightmare and sent into the heavens and then into the bowels. Pepper disappears. A strange railway type fireman appears with a culbatto ladder which is a beautifully balanced ladder about ten to fifteen feet long and counter balanced on a huge set of cart wheels. The stage is smoke filled and he enters riding the ladder with trippy slow motion grace. The song is Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and she suddenly flies across the open space above the stage, dressed in mirrored singlet and flaming red hair, Lucy (alias Evelyne) flies. At the end of the song she disappears in a spinning whirr into the roof and the lights fade. Underwater images fill the theatre and Pepper appears moving in slow motion under water and Octopuses Garden rings out. We are still in drug induced fantasy as Pepper is seduced by and pursues a beautiful jelly fish woman who strongly resembles the vision of the woman in red he saw flying though the sky after the air raid and also when carrying the load during yesterday. Minutes later he returns during the build up to Here Comes the Sun without his military coat and now sporting a long beard and a lamp. He has been on a pilgrimage to the east and now finds enlightenment through eastern spirituality rather than chemicals and he watches as four Gopis climb ropes and perform above and before their beloved Krisna. Pepper exits. We next find him in his own dream entering and following a train of familiar figures; three of the Nowhere men, the kids, Lucy, the Queen, Mr Piggy, Father Mackenzie, the Fool and a young woman reading a letter. He follows them down a smokey passage and at the end of it through the smoke thinks he sees he figure of Eleanor Rigby his love that he left many years ago to go fulfil his duty. The pain of this loss and regret haunt him though the piece. Two giant letter puppets dance above her. Pepper carries a cello and dances with the cello and the young Eleanor. On the other side of the stage the old Eleanor is dancing with the young version of Pepper. At the end Pepper is left with all he as; his military life into which he retreats. A hollow and fiercely self-controlled man who sadly walks to the centre and calls on the characters and elements which will tell the story of the death of the dream. The death of the dream of the Beatles which is envisioned through the re-enactment of the death of Julia, the women in red, who has haunted the sky above the stage. Julia is John Lennon’s mother who was killed in a hit and run accident. The tragedy is played out to A Day in the Life. The stage then erupts with Hey Jude which encourages us to ‘take a sad song and make it better’. The whole cast is on stage there is a joyous reprise of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and finale during which Sgt Pepper will soon climb the Korean ropes which overlook as well as oversee the proceedings. Curtain call to All You Need is Love and Pepper gives out two roses to selected members of the audience. And that is that.

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