Phoenix: I am inspired by the magical bird who, every 500 years, builds a nest, sets it alight, and burns in its own fire. It then rises anew from the ashes and lives again. Reminds me of Passover. Like the flood story from the Torah, a version of the Phoenix story exists in China, Japan, Russia, Egypt, Greece, originating in… you guessed it, India (Garuda, the bird of Vishnu.)
Show Report: Tucson less phreaky than Phoenix…
I’m sitting in my friend Abby’s dining room in Tucson, Arizona. Abby’s three month old baby, Juna, is adorable and amazing. Bouncing Juna in my arms is at once peaceful and thrilling. It’s sunny here with a light breeze that carries the tune of morning songbirds. The air is dry and intermittently dusty, the land dotted with cactus. Dogs bark at night in packs, reminding me of India, but with less death-cries. Today I visited my comedian friend Robert Mac and threw some ideas around for my show about India, “Eat, Pray, Laugh!”
I put on my show “The Punchline” five times in the Phoenix Fringe Festival these past few days. Emotional spaces opened up in my later performances that I had been longing for–there were whole shows, not just moments in which I truly enjoyed myself. I expanded into my characters more playfully, freely, deeply. It was both inspiring and relieving to know that it gets better and better as time goes on.
The audiences were so great… they really enjoyed the show and got what I was offering (although smaller crowds than I would have liked.) Here’s one among many awesome reviews from a fellow Fringer/Storyteller from LA:
“You have a lovely show. I really enjoyed it. You are a very skilled writer and performer, with great command of the story arc… the Distraction Dance was awesome.” -Antonio Sacre
Tucson is less weird than Phoenix. Phoenix is very hot and you can’t walk anywhere. The only kind of “alternative” lifestyle that seems to exist there is the punk genus. If you don’t go to the university and walk around in a bikini and shorts all day, (where is the beach, young ladies??) and you want to be different, you have to be a punk. It’s very sad. The people from the ASU theatre department are great, and really dedicated to bringing more grassroots culture up into Phoenix with the Fringe Festival. Keep on fighting the good fight. Anyway, I stayed in the Hilton by the airport for $45 a night (thank you, Priceline) and was able to get in the jacuzzi every day and watch HBO, so that made up for various shortcomings of the city.
A final highlight: yesterday I drove up to Arcosanti, 75 miles north of Phoenix. It’s an experimental community centered on the architecture and ecology ideas of Italian Paulo Soleri. Soleri, a Guggenheim fellow now about to turn 90, completely re-imagined architecture and city planning such that people, culture, and natural space are the focus, instead of, say, cars, roads, and parking. His city plans are like hives, built to maximize open space and human interaction. Some deep part of my soul called out to me, yearning for such a place to live and work. Even though 50,000 people a year visit Arcosanti, and they’re actively building a city big enough to house 7,000 people, the pace is a snail’s. They need an infusion of millions of dollars to really build it. Maybe they can get in on that stimulus package…?