Monday, July 31, 2006

Post-Fringe post

I slept late today, until 8 a.m., resting up after the Kansas City Fringe Festival.

Whew! It went well, I think. I had three performances of Blood, Guts, Spies and Fat Naked Ladies, with modest audiences. Fringe artists need to hawk their wares, work the street and the press to get people to come to the shows, but with my busy summer schedule, it was all I could do to send out e-mails and make up handbills to pass around on the days of the performances. Next time maybe I'll be able to do better. Still, the title brought in a few curious listeners.

The venue was an old garage, with minimal lighting--the owner locked up some of the circuit boxes so we couldn't use them. No problem, there were spotlights for the stage area and a few house lights. Brian Eby was an excellent sound tech for all the shows in this venue. There was a huge (fringe) benefit in this space: it was air conditioned! On this weekend the heat index hit 104 degrees fahrenheit (40 celsius) and not all venues had A/C. I saw fans being carted around to other spaces, as well as coolers of water and ice.

The performance on Friday night might have been the best, with the most advantageous time-slot (8 p.m.), the largest audience, and my strongest rendition of the show. That's also the performance that I forgot to record. I had my new mini-disc recorder all set up, just forgot to press the buttons. Dang.

Saturday's 5 p.m show was tricky. I woke up with a weird little stomach bug, so spent most of the day lying low, hoping the fever and headache would subside (I'll spare you other details). The good thing is that when I'm performing, I'm not aware of most physical ailments.

I had a reasonably strong show, despite the distractions of the volunteer in the back of the house--he opened the door a number of times, rattled bottles, answered his phone, talked with folks coming in, and most offensive of all, used the bathroom that was just to the side of the stage area while I was performing. I understand he's also a performer, so he should have known better.

One of the audience members told me afterwards that his wife was annoyed by the distractions, but that he was so engaged he blocked all intrusions out. He had an interesting comment: "Your story was really compact, like an English novel." It's true that this piece is dense, requiring the audience to listen carefully. There are discrete parts to it, so missing a little piece doesn't mean the listener misses the whole show.

I woke on Sunday feeling much better, though still weedy. By the time I drove in to KC, I was ready for the performance. It went well. Small but appreciative audience at this 2 p.m. show on another oven-hot day. I was able to talk with the new volunteers about keeping distractions to a minimum, and they did, up until the very end, when there was some coming and going--not as bad as the day before, though.

I didn't see as many of the other shows as I would have liked. I'm glad I got to see Joyce Slater's funny (and instructive?) piece, Pissing in Rome, a scatalogical look at European travel, which was quite fun, and I caught Dan Bernitt's show, Thanks for the Scabies, Jerkface! Nice fluidity of style and use of language. Dan has been on the Fringe circuit this summer, so this was his 25th performance of this show.

I remembered to record Saturday and Sunday. At some point I'll listen, but today I need to get ready for the four-day writing workshop at the Juvenile Detention Center that starts tomorrow.

P.S. Tim E., I'm sorry I never sent you my publicity for this Fringe--as you can see, I didn't get everything together until after the NSN conference.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Traveling, traveling

Oh, right, I do have a blog! Sorry to be so delinquent.

It's a good time to write, if I can pull myself away from the Seinfeld reruns and other late afternoon TV in this motel room. At home, I don't have cable and watching TV means pulling the set out of the closet, so when I'm on the road, I do watch. It's weirder than ever, isn't it? Shopping shows, reality TV, non-news programs. Hmm.

At any rate, I've been traveling and performing a lot. I drove across Kansas to Colorado this past weekend. It was a long trip, twelve hours on the hottest days of the year. Thank goodness my car air conditioning works. It was stunningly beautiful in southern Colorado, coming through the La Veta Pass in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. I got a little alarmed when my car started to lose power, but then realized that nothing was wrong--the car was just doing her valiant best to go up, up, up. Made it, too.

In Alamosa, I had an excellent chile relleno. The last two I'd had in Kansas and Missouri were awful (where was the pepper?!), so this one washed that flavor out of my mouth. Tonight I'm going on the hunt for another. No pie on this trip so far, but that's okay. Maybe I've got an additional quest?

I spent Sunday night and Monday in Center, CO. I had a great time! I got to meet another Priscilla--a three year old princess--and a dog named Gorilla (reminded me of the story that when I was born, my brother went running down to my uncle's to announce, "Uncle George, I have a little sister and her name is Gorilla!). Two of the librarians had been to a workshop I gave last fall, so they were the force behind my trip to Center. All of school/public librarians were extremely welcoming and friendly, and the kids in the sumer school (most of the audience) seemed to have a pretty good time.

Then I drove from Center to Greeley, about 250 miles, loving the rugged Colorado landscape at every turn. Greeley is in the Front Range, the flatter part of the state, where it looks a lot like western Kansas, but the mountains are visible to the west.

My performances here in Greeley are also a result of a workshop I gave last fall, one of three in Colorado. Today was just as fun, also with a great welcome from the librarians. That makes a big difference! This morning I was in Frederick, this afternoon in downtown Greeley. More in Greeley tomorrow, then Hudson on Thursday, and then I drive home, about 10 hours or so.

That chile relleno is calling my name. More soon, I promise!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Kansas towns

Yes, indeedy, it's a busy summer. Since May 31, I've had 34 performances, mostly in Kansas but also in Ponca City, OK and Columbia, MO. It has been big fun, but I'm happy to have a few days off after my performance in Osage City, KS tomorrow.

Two brochures ago I wrote a poem to Kansas, using the names of towns where I've performed. Here's the update, best read aloud:

Atchison, Topeka, Chetopa, Onaga, Olathe, Sabetha, Wathena, WaKeeney, Chanute,
Clearwater, Shallow Water, Waterville, Jetmore, Baxter Springs, Bonner Springs, Overbrook,
Salina, Ashland, Carbondale, Clay Center, Gypsum, Garnett,
Delphos, Ulysses, Seneca, Syracuse, Troy,
Columbus, Montezuma, De Soto,
Hope, Mount Hope,
Everest, Spring Hill, Hill City, Mound City, Fairway, Downs, Andale,
Bucklin, Elkhart, Deerfield, Winchester,
Elwood, Ellinwood, Linwood, Leawood,
Lenexa, Tonganoxie, Paxico, Oskaloosa, Wichita,
Horton, Holton, Newton, Norton,
Gridley, Greeley, Powhattan, Manhattan, Shawnee,
Pittsburg, Burlington, Scranton, Washington,
Lyndon, Johnson,
Pauline, Russell, Iola, Stanley, Augusta, Girard, LeRoy, Scott City,
Kansas City, Arkansas City, Garden City, Dodge City, Ness City,
and many more.

Soon this will be a sound file on the website. I've been working on this today instead of office work. Much more engrossing.