Many-Fur, Lost Among the Sculptures

May 25, 2012 § 5 Comments

Ah, readers. I missed you too. I know, I know, it’s been a while. But MAN WHAT A COUPLE OF WEEKS.

Don’t worry, all these seats filled up later…

Many of you know already that I live in strange little city at the end of the Metro North Hudson line called Poughkeepsie. Vassar’s at one end, Marist’s at the other, and in between is a very run-down no man’s land, a Main Street that is home to many closed and empty storefronts, grass-covered lots, and, in hiding, a ton of artists.

I’ve been lucky to get to know many of the artists of Poughkeepsie via a weekly meeting where we network and discuss projects that could help revitalize the area of Poughkeepsie known as Middle Main, which happens to be where I live.

Three weeks ago (yes only three), we learned that the sculptures in the Poughkeepsie Sculpture Park were slated to be dismantled. Now, this in and of itself is sad, but not the biggest tragedy. The sculptures there have been allowed to be taken over by nature, and some of them are literally falling apart. Beyond the normal oxidization process or aging, these sculptures were practically abandoned by the city. So their leaving isn’t so much a tragedy as an opportunity to call attention to a green space in need of community involvement.

At that meeting, someone brought up the idea of a performance, and my friend Linda, who happens to be the President Benevolent Queen of the Dutchess County Arts Council, looked right at me and said “Cate, you can put that together, right?”

This is what I get for going to community arts meetings and speaking up about “theater that disturbs the everyday” and “putting the arts right in front of the people who need to see it” or whatever it was that I’d said…

SO in a slam-bang-boom TWO AND A HALF WEEKS, we had authors of fiction and poetry ready to take over the park, actors en route from NYC and from Poughkeepsie’s finest companies, the help of curators and activists Sovereign Nation, 32 chairs, tons of PR and a permit thanks to the Arts Council, and a dandy top hat.

And guess what, readers?

IT WAS AWESOME.

Here’s a video from our rehearsal that we used as a teaser, shot and edited by Tom and Tammie at Sovereign Nation:

Authors reading at the event included Nora Olsen, Karen Michel, Peter Van Aken, Tom Winchester, Tom Wanning, and myself. And I’m so grateful to the actors who read my two short plays, Michele McNally, JD Whitt, Mark Stochmal, and the Judi Dench of the Hudson Valley, Linda Roper.

My two plays that were performed as staged readings were “A Girl and Her Nana Remember the Story of Many-Fur” and “Baba Yaga and the Five Stages of Hypothetical Grief,” both based on fairy tales and fairy tale characters. Because description does no good, I’ll just leave you with some pictures, and some brief excerpts from the text too. Text is mine, so please don’t post anywhere else! Enjoy!

Cate Fricke, Mark Stochmal, JD Whitt and Linda Roper in “A Girl and Her Nana Remember the Story of Many-Fur”

GIRL. Do you think if the cat died while he was sleeping, he is still dreaming?

NANA. Most assuredly. Let us imagine what the cat is dreaming at this moment.

(They are silent, facing downstage: both are imagining. Upstage behind them, a deep rust color bleeds onto the scrim. A MAN IN AN OVERCOAT comes on stage with a bucket of fish. He sets the bucket down center stage, then picks up a length of rope that is already tied at one end of the stage. He ties the other end at the opposite side, creating a wash line. He fiddles in his pockets for clothespins and hangs the fish, one by one, up to dry like laundry. Somewhere we cannot see, a violin is playing scales, then a light and lively jig as the man hangs all the fish, picks up his bucket, and leaves. The lights upstage go down.)

GIRL. (Nodding precociously:) That’s what I thought he was dreaming all along.

Michele McNally in “A Girl and Her Nana Remember the Story of Many-Fur”

MANY-FUR. What are you eating?

NANA. (Holding out a piece of lebkuchen:) Want some?

(MANY-FUR comes downstage and takes the cookie from NANA. She is wary of this encounter—she’s only just been conjured up. What now? But the taste of the cookie is familiar, even to her, a figment of someone’s imagination.)

MANY-FUR. I know this. My grandpa’s been trying to make this for years, but he always gets it wrong.

NANA. Does he? I must have hidden the recipe somewhere. We were trying to recall the end of the story.

Cate Fricke, Michele McNally, and Mark Stochmal in “A Girl and Her Nana Remember the Story of Many-Fur”

(The tune ends, and the MAN nods to MANY-FUR, who is really GIRL AT 19, and then GIRL, 6. He then picks up MANY-FUR’S cloak of many furs and slings it over his shoulder as he exits. MANY-FUR remains silhouetted against the moon, watching him go.)

GIRL. I don’t get it. Is she still lost in the woods?

NANA. That’s hardly the right question. (Pause.) Yes.

GIRL. And now she’s cold.

NANA. Perhaps. But she doesn’t itch.

JD Whitt and Linda Roper in “A Girl and Her Nana Remember the Story of Many-Fur”

Stay tuned for pics from “Baba Yaga and the Five Stages of Hypothetical Grief,” to be posted soon!

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§ 5 Responses to Many-Fur, Lost Among the Sculptures

  • Aine says:

    It really was awesome! Thanks for putting together such a special event–I’m so glad I got to be there 🙂

  • igetambit says:

    Great photos of the actors- the leaf-framed photo of an “apprehensive” Michelle- wow. Would be intriguing to know the lines of dialogue that precipitated her look…I remember her in “Baba Yaga”, her emotions expressed in her sad face…..who took these photos?

    The Director’s concept of moving the audience to a different site within the Sculpture Park- with a different “backdrop” each time, a different visual accompaniment to the spoken word- a little bit of healthy air into the lungs because of huffing your chair to the new locale- Cate……you direct as good as you write!

  • […] Roper returns as Baba Yaga, after originating the role in May’s performance of “Baba Yaga and the 5 Steps of Hypothetical Grief” in the Poughkeepsie Sculpture Park, and Michele McNally and Mark Stochmal will also be returning to […]

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