Some time-traveling incarnation of Ma Rainey possessed by Brian Eno,
serving the cooked and the raw, together, straight up—
that’s the guiding spirit of the Sh*tty Barn.
Here’s what we got going in Spring Green, Wisconsin right now: the nights are colder, the leaves are changing, a lot of the architects are heading to Arizona next week, but there are 10 days left of up-the-hill shows at APT, three and half more weeks at the Touchstone, and a full month of Sh*tty Barn sessions left to go. I can still pretend it’s summer, at least for a while.
Bessie Smith sang, “I hate to see that evening sun go down” in “St. Louis Blues.” I would sing, “I hate to see the Autumn Equinox.” Dark and getting darker, that’s where we are, so I rely on these local portkeys to take me somewhere else–somewhere midterms and winter aren’t on the way.
I can’t tell you how special the Sh*tty Barn is to me. Nowhere else did it make sense to perform something that I didn’t even know what to call. Not a poetry reading. Not a verse play. So what was it, in the end?
A special night, or, as one of my students told me today, “It was dope.” One terrific director, David Daniel, took a big schmear of narrative poems and shaped them into a narrative that worked on stage.
Three terrific actors–how lucky am I? Terrific venue, grants from the Spring Green Area Arts Coalition and the Sauk County Good Idea Grants program, all benefits of this wonderful place. The poet Honor Moore said Spring Green seemed to have some kind of special vortex going on–or maybe I said that and she agreed–in any case, this is a special place, with special people here for a good long while, or just a brief passing through. (You can see David, Sarah, and Nate a few more times yet this season at APT.)
Here’s Sarah Day, as Elizabeth, a character I wrote with her in mind–she’s reading from a book of poems called Speakeasy Love Hard:
Here’s Ashleigh LaThrop as May, who is certainly the guiding spirit of Speakeasy Love Hard, but I think May’s also secretly the poet of it all:
Here’s Nate Burger, just absolutely nailing a poem after the intermission. It’s called “Mobius Strip of a Man.” Did I mention he nailed it? He just nailed it.
Also on the list of my luckiness–being married to a man who can take such fantastic pictures.
After they’d finished Speakeasy Love Hard, Sarah asked if it was all right. “You’re scowling,” she said. I hope I conveyed sufficiently how wonderful it was (IT WAS WONDERFUL), that the look on my face is how I look when my mind is blown. Do playwrights ever get used to hearing their words come out of the mouths of amazing actors?
I feel as though a nuclear reaction has gone off in Gashouse Love, the play that needed Speakeasy Love Hard. No wonder the look on my face was intense, and not just blissed out (though I was feeling the bliss just as much). I have a lot of processing to do.
Will I be lucky enough to work more with these people in this place?
So grateful to the universe that it happened this one time. It was dope.