Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shadow Puppets

My Zimbio
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There are just a few of us who sit waiting on well worn plastic chairs in the make shift theatre. Above us, a large plastic tarp protects us from the night rain and a single unforgiving florescent bulb casts a harsh glow on the sparse audience. I silently long for a pink gel to take the edge off the lighting and add some much needed softness to my 53 year old ever sagging profile.

The Bali night that surrounds us is alive with the wail of geckos and the incessant croaking of bullfrogs from the river bank below. The lush scent of frangipani blossoms mingles with the several sticks of incense that are burning around us to ward off the evil spirits and bless tonight’s performance.

The theatre is wedged behind a massage studio on one side and a gift shop on the other. There is a consistent trickle off foot traffic on the pathway leading down to the river that cuts through the audience on house left. Directly in front of us, there is a 6x6 slightly stained white canvas stretched across a make shift teak proscenium. It to has seen better days. A single flame burns behind the canvas and illuminates several stationary shadow puppet figures that are positioned along the front. Curtain is not until 8pm – another 10 minutes before the characters are animated by the two Balinese puppeteers.

As we wait, my mind wanders. I being to think about the scene I am supposed to write tomorrow for our play Rights of Passage. Then, without warning, I begin to feel an uncomfortable pang of guilt. My thoughts have drifted to those who struggle mightily to just get through each day. For the past days, weeks, months and close to 2 years now the research we have done for the play is starting to get to me. It all weighs heavily on my mind. I force myself to think of the triumphs we have recorded and not just the obstacles standing in the way of global LGBT equality.

I look at Robert’s watch. There is still another 5 minutes to show time.

My mind quickly shifts to a swirl of new writing ideas that have not yet fully taken shape. I am trying to learn to live with this convoluted part of the creative process . It is extremely difficult for me. I tend to become frustrated with the quiet reflective time that I must put in to sort out and focus my ideas. I am always chomping at the bit to sit down and just get it done. I am getting better at it but mostly it’s agony. Having my writing partner and husband here helps a great deal. We are balm for each others artistic vagaries and vulnerabilities.

Suddenly I hear a sharp sound. I am shaken from my angst filled daydream. The puppet hammer has struck. Traditional Balinese gamelan music fills the theatre. The shadow puppet performance is beginning.

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