love and death valley on planet circus

September 8, 2008

Luke and Casha’s stay has been a godsend. What a thing to have such sons. Luke; such a mischievious and spirited man with a love of life that refuses to give in to the possibility of death and is continuously concerned with the future of the planet which is expressed in the love he gives in his immediate surroundings, and an on-going search for vegan shoes. (even though he has found some perfectly good vegan flip-flops) His strength and steadfast resolution and commitment to the truth and to being a person who gives love but will not tolerate unkindness or stupid bigotry is balanced by an energetic sense of humour. And Casha, his partner; a woman of such quiet compassion and grace, intelligence, wit and generosity. To see them together and have them spend time with us renews my view of life and a measure of hope is restored.

So Luke and Casha and Daniel and I take a day trip to Death Valley. The lowest altitude in the whole of the US and with the highest recorded temperature in the western hemisphere. Or was that the other way around? Either way it’s a two hour drive of Luke’s high-spirited teasing, Casha’s quiet witty responses, and Daniel’s good natured d-jaying and easy companionship. The temperature gets higher and higher and the altitude gets lower and lower which Luke reports dutifully from his GPS. This beloved toy of his gives us often invaluable, occasionally dubious info on where to turn, how much further etc and how far below sea level we are. We stop off next to a rock face overlooking a vast flat-bellied valley of salt and dried up lake-bed of millions of years ago. The landscape through the blistering sun is devastatingly beautiful. ‘Stark’ doesn’t come anywhere near. Its Dante on acid. The colours of the rock are unbelievable in their brightness. Layers and strata of reds, browns, pinks, greens, blacks, greys, purples, and every other colour you would not imagine a rock to be. The view often reminds me of a Pierneef painting. Each colour designated its own layer. It is captivatingly beautiful. The sun is remorseless in its attack on the skin and eyes. Sun block is repeatedly applied. Shirts are removed; ‘Hey, might as well get a tan’ and then ‘Ow!’ hurriedly replaced. ‘Fucken hell it’s really hot’. We go further into the valley towards Bad Water Spring. The lowest, hottest point. A carefully groomed asphalt road leads us past the impossibly coloured mountains towards the bed of the valley and there is a wooden walkway out over part of the pan. We walk out beyond this and play some subdued Frisbee on the vast flat salt-white wavery landscape. Gradually over the fifteen or thirty minutes it takes to walk out and back we all turn what Lynton Kwesi Johnson would call a ‘firey red’. ‘Are we burning?’ I start to worry. No it’s just so hot that our skin has brought all the blood to skin level to help us cool off. We stagger back to the car and drink a lot of water and retreat. We take a different route home through Red Rock. The country side is laughably beautiful.

We are into the first week of September so that makes it about nine months to go. First two shows yesterday felt good relaxed and focused. Input from Don gives one targets to keep aiming at and provide more links in the subtextual chain for one to swing from though the show. Acting links which make character sense and is easily or at least simply translated into movement. I am thoroughly enjoying working with Don. I spoke at the tapis rouge and said, ‘If I could change one thing about working at Cirque it would be this. I would do my best to ensure, knowing the difficulties this entails, that every single member of the company, acrobats and dancers as well as characters should have a regular opportunity to see the whole show since it is so inspiring. It reminds me of the privilege I have of sharing the stage with this extraordinary group of artists. It is a truly beautiful show so thank you.’ most people looked at me as though I had said something incomprehensible and the meeting moved on. ‘Pretentious old fart what’s he on about?’ (quiet fart from the Fool)

Find it very difficult to care at all about the ins and pouts and ups and downs of American politics. It’s all so like a soap opera. The stakes all seem so fake. The characters so manufactured and manicured and presented and judged on their appearance and style. It has the uncomfortable feeling of being a snake-oil hoax. It feels to me, (and I have to confess to being a closet conspiracy theorist) that corporations control not just the strings but the brass section, percussion, woodwind and probably catering too so that politicians just mimic the conductor’s dance, and follow the carefully scripted score. Perhaps it seems more obvious here being the arena of the champion of capitalism. Profit rules and big business will not subject itself to mere political policies. Intelligent enough to camouflage itself behind talk of policy and energy and defense and security and goodwill and social conscience etc, the corporate mind is not so stupid as to lift the veil covering its scarred features. It will hide in the milkshake maelstrom of media and hype, so that we are able to fool ourselves into thinking that we have some measure of control over our future. Ah well. I’ll bet you just can’t wait for next week’s exciting instalment of pretentious pseudo-political claptrap.

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