Wednesday, August 20, 2003

in the august heat

I promised a description of the play, didn’t I?

For starters, the whole thing was Martina’s idea. She adapted the Irish creation myth to a play, and then threw a party at the beginning of summer to rouse the volunteers. It proved to be tough, as summer is a busy time in North River, and most of us have steady jobs, or at least what passes for one. It took til end of July for there to be enough volunteers to get rehearsals started; we didn’t have a full cast til last week. All the roles in the play: 5 gods, assorted monsters, fairies, animals, a bard, and the voice of Bridgit. Plus musicians who also double as the gods’ chorus.

Martina made all the puppets, with the help of Jean-Pascal, her son (known to everyone as JP, for obvious reasons; one of the homesteaders). The gods are seven feet tall, and are worn by a puppeteer (like me) in this fashion: on my head sits an upside-down planter, made of green plastic, on which is built the head and shoulders of the god I play. (Ogma, magician and inventor of writing, in my case--pure coincidence.) From the shoulders comes the cloth of his body, and I hold in my hands two dowels that connect to his hands. My feet are the only things that show to the audience; and I see through a square of screen sewn into the cloth at the god’s heart.

Laurel plays Bridgit, the head goddess, the one who tells the other gods that the earth exists at all. Jitka plays Angus, the god of love, the foolish, young god. Bev plays the Dagda, the father of the gods, the one who looks the most like God, mostly because of the white beard and the crown. JP is Midyir, the warrior dressed in red, with crinkly red yarn for hair and a ‘metal’ helmet made of grey Styrofoam. Jeremy, tall with his real white beard, is the bard Taliesin, who comes in on a boat and reads from a scroll the lines of all the gods except Bridgit; Carol reads her. There is also a collection of kids from the area who change costumes countless times to become fairies, monsters, animals.

The story goes: Bridgit tells the gods about this crazy earth place that wails all night because it has dreamed of beauty. It is a place of hellish demons and writhing mess, and it lives in the pit of chaos. The gods decide they are courageous enough to go down to the earth and make a place for Bridgit’s cloak and to bring beautiful life, and so they do. Midyir fights off the awful monsters, and then Bridgit spreads her cloak. But Angus interrupts and the magic ceases to spread, so they are left with an uninhabitable misty place. Bridgit makes lakes and pools of water, but if there is to be any life here at all, the gods will have to stay and make it. The kind of life they are used to in Tir-Na-Moe won’t survive here. So they decide they will stay and make it, but Bridgit can’t stay (maybe she has to work the next day), so they implore her to tie a knot in her cloak so she will always remember the earth. She takes off, and the gods create animals and then everyone takes their costumes off and we all sing a song.

Well, it is a creation myth, after all.

We’ve only had something like 4 or 5 rehearsals, but I think in the end we’ll pull it off. We all know roughly where to go, what to do. We'll be fine.

(One more thing: the lower part of the field is marshy and muddy because the dam above it leaks. Mint grows here because of this, and in our practices we crush it with our feet and the scent of mint rises up in the hot air all around us. And after I pull off the head of Ogma, there is a red mark across my forehead where the plastic digs into me, but I don’t mind.)

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