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Ian Thal

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Blogs by Ian Thal

Waltzing to War @ Out of the Blue
11/9/2004 4:37:17 PM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

Friday, October 29th, 2004:

For the first time since he left Cosmic Spelunker Theater, Bill Barnum is rejoining us as our special guest, opening with a short piece, but at seven o'clock, he is not there. Instead another veteran of the poetry scene whose reputation has been destroyed with drink is slouched in a seat slowly rambling about things he did twenty or thirty years ago. Both James and I have known this poet over the years, and he's been the topic of many a discussion in our rehearsals. It is difficult for both of us to listen to him ramble on in a post alcoholic dementia. He babbles a bit about having been to detox and being in AA to anyone not in a flurry of activity, but it is obvious that the decades of abuse has destroyed his brain functions. This incessant babble of a disintegrated self forces itself into my ears after James and I have set up the chairs and I am applying the clown white, black eyeliner and red lipstick that creates my stage personna, gazing into my reflection in the mirror that folds out of my makeup case. James meditates in a corner.

The first guests show up a few minutes after eight and the rest trickle in at about quarter after. I try to maintain some visual interest by slowly going through my scales in lateral, depth, and rotation as we wait. Bill finally arrives at 8:26. I mime frustration with his lateness, and true to Barnum form, he mimes something entirely contrary. There are giggles of amusement as I finally drag him from the audience towards what we have of a back stage area (really the office of the art gallery) and explain the situation to him. After a few minutes, I come on stage and do my presenter of the cards bit:

COSMIC SPELUNKER THEATER PRESENTS:

WALTZING TO WAR

SPECIAL GUEST: WILLIAM J. BARNUM

I punctuate each presentation of the cards with an immobility and then exit the stage as Bill takes center. I can't really concentrate on his performance as I get ready for mine, but when he is done, James and I begin with Waltzing to War. We've restaged it this evening to play in the round. It goes relatively well. I've been practicing more with my cat mime in the opener, curling one leg back as if a tail with greater control than ever before as I hunch down on my other three limbs (and sometimes two as I gesticulate or crawl.)

Unfortunately, L., a woman we know from the Labyrinth Workshop that James runs has problems sensing boundaries becomes very caught up in our performance and starts talking back to our show, gesticulating and even creeps up on stage while I am in an immobility in order to give me a gift. It becomes enough of a distraction that I end up singing one line of the "Star Spangled Banner" twice during "Wartime Mash-Up." I also screw up the karate kata. As always, I seem to force myself into taking the most difficult parts in our shows-- but it has led to my growth as an artist and I have grown into the roles I have created for myself, but I am annoyed that I have messed up something as simple as a karate kata that we've been practicing for at least a year-- James is supposed to defeat me anyway-- so it is just as well.

After we take our bows and talk to our friends in the small audience, James gives L. a talking to about respecting boundaries and appropriate behavior. Some kids in Halloween costumes come by, until I step out, still costume and makeup, and I frighten them by walking with leaden feet like a zombie from the movies. The alcohol shattered senile elder poet shambles off with nary a word-- I don't even notice his exit. At quarter of ten, a couple of scenesters show up and ask if they have missed the show-- one is one of those activist types whom I have complained about elsewhere who show up at art events when they are over because he wants to appear to be part of the scene. A couple more appear a few minutes latter asking the same thing. I am frustrated with them for not reading the flyer-- which read 8:00 p.m.-- fashionably late for a show gives you maybe twenty minutes on a Friday night in Cambridge-- not two hours. The late activist is surprised to learn that the elder poet was even in attendance and then loudly mentions having shared a bottle with him the previous night-- I've already had my boundaries pushed by inappropriate behavior by audience members and chide him for giving alcohol to an alcoholic who just got out of detox.

After more of the crowd leaves, Iana asks me about my story of childhood memories of Nixon era COINTELPRO activities. She doesn't know much about the era, her family having come over from communist Czechoslovakia in 1984. She knows what it is like to live under a totalitarian regime and tells me that the last few years of Bush has made her fear for her new home. Too much of the societal changes she has witnessed here reminds her of what had made her family seek asylum in the west-- and my story of COINTELPRO also reminds her of life under communism. I mention that there were congressional commissions to investigate those sort of operations, and laws regulating the way intelligence agencies operate on American soil and how they share information as a consequence, but we don't talk about it anymore in the states, and most of those reforms are being overturned. It's historical revisionism-- the same sort of revisionist history in which Ronald Reagan defeated communism. She laughs at that and can never understand why so many Americans seem to believe it. In her own country, activists fought the forces of totalitarianism for decades and suffered prison sentences and all sorts of abuses to bring about the revolution of 1989. I had had these same insights, but I never had the opportunity to share them with somebody who was actually there on the other side of the iron curtain and didn’t need me to spell it out.

Conversation turns back to artistic matters, and being a painter with great sensitivity to light and darkness, she expresses her disappointment that the gallery could not be rigged with stage lighting as she recognizes that mime is a very sculptural art form and that the gallery’s lights are set up for the display of two dimensional art. Iana's sister drops by to pick her up and we say our good byes. I gather my things and head home for a rest.

Tomorrow I open for the Dresden Dolls.


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More Blogs by Ian Thal
• September 2007 Blog - Saturday, October 06, 2007
• August 2007 Blog Index - Sunday, September 02, 2007
• July 2007 Blog Index: - Wednesday, August 01, 2007
• June 2007 Blog Index - Monday, July 02, 2007
• May 2007 Blog Index - Wednesday, May 30, 2007
• The Adventures of CMYK - Tuesday, May 01, 2007
• April Madness - Tuesday, May 01, 2007
• Walt Whitman and I - Friday, April 20, 2007
• Breaking with Bread and Puppet - Thursday, April 12, 2007
• American Dissident Outs Stalinist Clown! - Saturday, February 24, 2007
• The Last Days of Judas Iscariot - Wednesday, January 03, 2007
• My First Feature Film Shoot - Monday, September 04, 2006
• Into the Station” at Boston City Hall - Saturday, July 08, 2006
• Becoming Fire - Friday, June 09, 2006
• Bill and Ian See Blue Man Group - Monday, April 17, 2006
• An Open Letter to Stephen Schwartz - Monday, April 03, 2006
• My Quarrel with The Weekly Standard's Stephen Schwartz - Saturday, March 04, 2006
• Bread & Puppet Journal, 2005 - Thursday, December 29, 2005
• Teaching mime with Open Air Circus - Friday, August 05, 2005
• Another Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part VIII - Monday, January 03, 2005
• Another Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part VII - Monday, January 03, 2005
• Another Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part VI - Monday, January 03, 2005
• Another Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part V - Monday, January 03, 2005
• Another Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part IV - Monday, January 03, 2005
• Another Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part III - Friday, December 24, 2004
• Another Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part II - Friday, December 24, 2004
• Another Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part I - Friday, December 24, 2004
• The Dresden Dolls show - Tuesday, November 09, 2004
•  Waltzing to War @ Out of the Blue - Tuesday, November 09, 2004  
• Word Play on SCAT - Tuesday, November 09, 2004
• Autographs & Interviews - Tuesday, November 09, 2004
• Beacon Hill Panorama @ All Asia Café - Monday, October 04, 2004
• Trip to Providence - Monday, October 04, 2004
• Interview in Providence Phoenix - Thursday, September 02, 2004
• Activists Vs. Artists - Friday, July 30, 2004
• James Van Looy Interview - Thursday, May 20, 2004
• The Perils of a Political Humorist - Wednesday, May 05, 2004
• On Display - Wednesday, May 05, 2004
• Whimsy: 4/29/2004 - Wednesday, May 05, 2004
• Self Criticism - Wednesday, May 05, 2004
• From The Archives: A Misreading - Tuesday, March 09, 2004
• Our National Anthem/Back in the USA - Friday, January 30, 2004
• Notes on the Confederacy/Back in the USA - Friday, January 30, 2004
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Epilogue - Friday, January 23, 2004
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part XVII - Friday, January 23, 2004
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part XVI - Friday, January 23, 2004
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part XV - Friday, January 23, 2004
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater, Part XIV - Tuesday, January 20, 2004
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater, Part XIII - Monday, January 12, 2004
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater, Part XII - Monday, January 12, 2004
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part XI - Monday, January 12, 2004
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part X - Friday, January 02, 2004
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part IX - Friday, January 02, 2004
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part VIII - Friday, January 02, 2004
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part VII - Saturday, December 20, 2003
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part VI - Tuesday, December 16, 2003
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part V - Tuesday, December 16, 2003
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part IV - Monday, December 15, 2003
• Two Weeks With Bread & Puppet Theater: Part III - Sunday, December 14, 2003
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part II - Friday, December 12, 2003
• Two Weeks with Bread & Puppet Theater: Part I - Friday, December 12, 2003
• Flux Concert & Lunar Eclipse - Friday, November 28, 2003
• Squawkings, Hexings and Sonny Holiday - Sunday, November 02, 2003
• On Groupies and Bloggers: Part II: The Blogger - Monday, October 27, 2003
• On Groupies and Bloggers: Part I: The Groupie - Monday, October 27, 2003
• First Ballet Lesson - Sunday, October 26, 2003
• Economics of Art - Wednesday, August 13, 2003
• An artist at work - Tuesday, August 05, 2003
• Performance @ Large - Tuesday, August 05, 2003
• Friday, July 18th, 2003: - Sunday, July 27, 2003
• Trip to NYC, part II - Sunday, July 20, 2003
• Trip to NYC, part I - Sunday, July 20, 2003


The World of the Narcissist by Sam Vaknin

A book-length psychodynamic study of pathological narcissism, relationships with abusive narcissists, and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, using a new vocabulary. ..  
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