Company in Paradise

Interview with the artists in the aftermath of a first attempt.

photograph of strelitzia flowers in bloom

How do I describe the place where we were? Birds of paradise guard the fortresses, holding still. A hushed place except for the machines. Between each fortress, you must not make a loud sound or have too much of laughter in one place if the place is below the window of a fortress because the people inside tend toward nervous conclusions, such as attack. Now we know, but we weren’t trying to scare anyone––not personally, anyway.

We were together, our company, because of the times, and the way we wanted to do something with our fear. It was going to be an opera. The working title was For the Scorched Earth. It accompanied an installation piece as well as a huge dance floor. This part was important, and nothing that any of us could fit in any place we lived, so we jumped at the chance to stage the event in a place with a large yard. Or really, any yard.

The lead character is an ancient god of the lunar eclipse who has lost his way. The idea was to dance him back home. We were going to invite the whole community! The point was also healing. But now we know that some ideas are too big for a given space. They shut us down.

But there’s no doubt we’ll try again. Reason being, we already have costumes and once people see themselves in those, no one can resist a grand entrance. We even had them for all the neighbors, too! These gorgeous birds of paradise pieces, all satin and taffeta. They were going to be stunning in the light. The mistake was not handing them out sooner.

In retrospect, that was a miscalculation. We were having fun with the element of surprise. It seemed so apropos, given our theme! But not everything translates across cultures. So now we know.  The next space will be much bigger.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

3 thoughts on “Company in Paradise”

  1. I love the idea of audience-participation street theater. That’s the Abbie in me, I expect.

    But this piece reminds me of the local May Day celebration put on by The Heart of the Beast Theater, where they use giant puppets to reenact the lake crossing of Summer to defeat Winter. There’s a parade of these giant puppets throughout the neighborhood as part of the festival celebration.

    The festival takes place in an otherwise troubled large park, and brings joy to a place that typically doesn’t experience much.

    1. I am so grateful to know about The Heart of the Beast Theater, Michael. Thank you for sharing this with me!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: