Luck of Visions: A Backyard Variety Show

5:15 PM Punelope Crude
5:30 PM Sadie Greyduck
5:45 PM Squeakie
6:00 PM Light Pollution
6:15 PM Ethan Zachary Lee
6:30 PM The Green Wheel
6:45 PM Kevin Corcoran with Dominique Nigro and Andrew Rose

Poster by Kat Countiss

Here I am, talking about Saturday’s show. Some days have passed to allow for perspective and the post-show drop to fade.

This is the third and last backyard show of the year. I enjoyed the comments of how the timing was good for the full moon. I enjoyed receiving compliments about my outfit. I hand-sewed scraps of fabric to a robe I bought at a metaphysical store in Oakland. I tried out a new design for my makeup and head attire. It came together in a way where I felt realized.

I made this poster this week using a scratchboard acetate. It felt good to work on. I think I would use this medium again. There’s something very appealing about the individuality and the aliveness of the text that I think is eye-catching and conveys the specialness of the event, the rustic nature maybe.

It was a cold night and at the first intermission we built a fire. These photos are from the video shot by Mark McBeth. I really appreciated his videography. I’ve reached out to him in the past to come and document events I’ve been a part of, but this time, he reached out to me. I think he might have understood that I wasn’t going to reach out to him this time because of money issues, but he wanted to capture the event as ethnography.

It does make me think about the value of documentation. Especially in the age of the pandemic where not everyone feels comfortable coming out to shows, the idea of posterity is vital. I admit that it is also one of my weaknesses as a showrunner to guard the legacy of the show. I might use the excuse that performance art by its nature is ephemeral, but I have values about reflection, memory, and media which contradicts that notion.

I am grateful to everyone who attended and performed. It was a bit of an exercise in understanding how musicians set up. I was under the impression that we could do quick transitions with the right preparation, but there was a few order switch ups and later arrivals, and so it is interesting to explore my ideas about what does it mean to be the host of the show, how to facilitate a smooth experience for the audience while also being transparent about what they are seeing. In the backyard, there is no backstage or curtain closing. The audience sees and hears everything that I am working with and what’s happening.

What I would do next time: I had a bit of ponderance about the lighting. I think that (especially after looking at the footage) I need to have some compassion for myself about what I did versus what I want to do next time. The first backyard variety show, I worked with some limitations. A part of me would want to have some kind of crew with a plan like at theaters, there are ushers, lighting technicians, sound technicians, but also I like the scrappiness of it. Sometimes, I think about how minimal crews give a sense that we all have the power to create events. All to say that I would have arranged my overhead projector differently to 1) make it out of the way– more than one person tripped over this black cord in the walkway (no injuries, but that’s not the point) 2) the vantage point was not ideal for even lighting or knowing what it looked like 3) After looking at the footage, I think the light look should have definitely changed to indicate the start of the show. For a sense of framing and attention grabbing.

Where the lighting was exactly what I wanted: The Final Act. These three people, Dominique, Kevin, and Andrew, and I, collaborated in an improvisational piece that is unnamed, with elements pretty similar to psychobotany. I love using the overhead projector for improvisational lighting. I think it makes it very dreamy and theatrical. It was the first time using the projector that way since the Before Times. The last time was at Fort Night.

There’s something very interesting about that night as the last time the community that I had felt a part of convened for the last time. I have not been invited to do shows and I have not asked to do shows. It’s been a wild time where it feels safer not to do shows. I am grateful to have a backyard and housemates that feel comfortable with these kinds of gatherings, and they are not without risk, but it is a hard feeling to imagine how this is the best case scenario (in my opinion), given how the Bay Area culture/privilege of vaccine and protocol adherence. It’s been an odd feeling as a performance artist to see live art become scarce or even more scarce.

Someone at the show asked me if I was going to have a regular backyard show and if it was something that they could perform at. I like the idea of a seasonal show. Four shows a year, but we will see. I personally have a precipice of change I’m looking over. I am going to get a job soon and I don’t know how it will affect my bandwidth or my spirit.

I think there’s a feeling of how if possible we must make occasions for joy because the pace of life can be so… in need of such things. So, in that way, I feel like I’ve met my goal for this event. There was beauty.

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