Tall Horse in New York

September 30th, 2005

Can we talk for one second about THIS:

tall horse

I take the pilgrimage of a lifetime to South Africa, and as soon as I get here, the Handspring Puppet Company goes to NEW YORK! This is NOT FAIR! okay… needed to get that out of my system. I’m a little upset. If you happen to be anywhere near New York City, I think you should go to this show. Please, do it.

More info about Tall Horse in New York

grrrr…….

my desk

September 23rd, 2005

desk 9/22

I don’t think this photo really captures the disaster that is my desk right now. I was trying to write an essay on a community theatre organization that I’ve been volunteering with. I keep piling notes and cups of tea on top of sketches and scattered pieces of cardboard from my puppets. You’d think it would be easier to just clean up, but that doesn’t seem to be the way my brain works.

Later the disaster got worse. I wanted to make something to send to a friend of mine who sent me a card this week. What I thought would be a quick project got a little out of hand.

watching rain

I think this is partly inspired by the Artist’s Trading Cards that my mom has gotten into, and the other part inspired by the Cape Town rain.

a new Shadow piece to work on

September 23rd, 2005

When I went to Johannesburg I wrote a whole lot about my reactions to the Soweto student uprising. I had a lot of really strong reactions to the even when I first learned about it in my South African politics class, but being in Soweto and going to the Hector Pieterson Museum (named for the 13 year old boy who was the first to die on the day on the uprising) brought back all of those feelings with more strength. So I’ve started to process those ideas with a lot of free writing, sketches and the beginnings of some shadow puppets.

shadowgirl

This one is meant to be me… use your imagination.

A critical part of the story as I was first told it was about how the police threw a canister of tear gas at the children who were marching in the streets, and the wind blew the gas back in their faces. Confused, the police then opened fire on the students. I’m not sure if that story is entirely accurate, but its how I first heard it.

This is the tear gas canister closed and open.

canisteropen canister closed

And this is the wind.

shadowwind

I want to do some stuff with an overhead projector and photographs, but that will come later.

post script

September 17th, 2005

Yes, very good point, I should post a link to my PICTURES. Those are some more pictures from my spring break trip. They feature pretty views from the train, Soweto, and more animals.

“where have you been? “

September 9th, 2005

I’m sure some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting at all for a while. The combination being back at school and having much more limited access to the internet has made posting harder. That certainly doesn’t mean things aren’t happening!

We just had out spring break (or as I’ve been calling it Spring Break 2005, TAKE TWO!). And I went to Johannesburg with my friend Stephanie. We took the train up there (a 26 hour ride), which was really fun. Met some crazy people on the train. After doing some of the touristy stuff in Johannesburg (which for me included going to visit the Market Theatre!) we decided to get out of the city to try and go to a national park to see all those African animals I’ve been told I’m supposed to see. We found a hostel that was “near” the national part (Pilannesberg) that we wanted to go to. Its a small national park in an extinct volcano. We took the bus out to Rustenburg, a town which exists because of the platinum mine nearby. When we go off the bus at a gas station at the corner of Mandela Road and Pres. Mbeki Drive, it was abundantly clear that tourists don’t hang out in Rustenburg very often. I have never been stared at so much. Eventually our ride showed up, and turned out to be a pickup truck (called a baakie in Afrikaans). So Stephanie and I piled into the back of the pickup truck for what we thought would be a short ride. When I just said I had never been stared at so much in my life, that moment now gets second prize to the stares we got in the back of the truck. Apparently white girls don’t ride in the back of baakies. All the black people we passed laughed at us, and all the white people looked horrified. Then, 45 minutes later down the gravel roads, we arrive at the hostel, where we were the only people besides the family. It was wonderful!

The next day we managed to get to the park (a whole adventure on how we go there, but I can tell that some other time).

giraffe

The whole experience I kept thinking it felt like I was in the Lion King. I just finished writing a paper about Disney and they’re portrayal of other cultures, so I mean this with all the implications. This is Africa with no people, only animals and beautiful views. No conflict, on the comfy seats of your own car. I had a great time, and the animals and land was amazing, but it was a little surreal to realize that this is what so many people mean by seeing the “real Africa.” But all that self-reflective academic-ness out of the way, it was a great time. All together, the side trip to Rustenburg was my favorite part of the week.

the board above my desk

September 9th, 2005

this picture was actually taken a few weeks ago.

augbulliteenboard

you can note the pictures of folks, the flyer for the play in Xhosa that I didn’t have time to go to, my growing collection of tickets from shows at the Baxter Theatre, and some shadow puppets I’ve been working on in my few spare moments.

Spice Root – my first puppets in South Africa

July 27th, 2005

This past Friday I went and saw a show at the Baxter Theatre, called Spice Root. It was a piece about the colonization on Java, and the subsequent slave route between Java and the Cape of Good Hope. The piece employed all sorts of traditional Javanese performance: music, dance, food, and shadow puppets! Between studying Javanese shadow puppetry, and the fact that there is a Gamelan (a Javanese music tradition) at Sarah Lawrence, I know far more about Javanese culture than your average American, who doesn’t even know where Java is. That being said, I was really excited to see the show.

I was not disappointed. The group employed traditional puppetry techniques to tell the story of the war between the Dutch and the Javanese. They used three screens in the shape of waves/sails, which echoed against the repeated images of the boats. The center screen was the largest, and told most of the story, with the two smaller screens flanked the stage with details. For example, while the large screen showed the Dutch army firing cannons on the Javanese, and the Javanese returning fire with arrows, the two smaller screens would show an individual Dutchman battling an individual Javanese. It was really powerful.

The show as a whole was really inspiring. A lot of performance I have seen strives to involved audiences through multiple senses. This is maybe the first I’ve seen where it worked. Throughout the show a woman sat to one side of the stage cooking. As a result, but 20 minutes into the show the theater was full of wonderful smells that I could not recognize. Then at the end of the show they fed up what she had been cooking. It was wonderful.

I left the whole show feeling inspired and reminded of why I love theater so much. And I was further pleased by the fact that my friend I brought along who “doesn’t like theater” enjoyed it greatly. While I was reveling in the intellectual things like the puppeteers use of traditional forms, he kept saying, “Well, I didn’t understand any of it, but I know I liked it. I liked it a lot.”

Table Mountain

July 18th, 2005

Table Mountain

There you have it, Table Mountain. That is a photo I took when we hiked up Mountains Head (the smallest of the mountains in the area) as the sun was setting. The peak in the center of the photo is Devil’s Peak. UCT, where I’m living now, is just on the other side of that. Then Table Mountain is actually the one on the right. So many people commented about how beautiful is was here before I left that I sort of stopped listening. But, they were right. It is really beautiful. Everywhere I turn there seems to be beautiful panoramas of mountains and ocean. Of course being new here its really striking, while all of the other UCT students seem unfazed by it.

UCT is built right at the base of Devil’s Peak, which is beautiful, but means that everything is uphill. In Boston we have a joke that if you ask for directions the answer will always be “go to the Dunkin’ Donuts and take a left till you see the next Dunkin’ Donuts.” At UCT the answer seems to be “Go up the stairs, around the corner and up the next set of stairs.” It really changes the way you think about walking around campus. Not to mention that the campus is many 20 times bigger than my campus back home. All things to get used to.

here I am.

July 15th, 2005

Well, I made it. Sitting in the computer lab at UCT, just finished with two weeks of orientation, and am finally ready to go here in Cape Town. I have yet to get my computer hooked up to the system here, so pictures will be coming later (prepare yourself for a lot of pictures of Table Mountain!). So far the most exciting things about being here have been getting my UCT student ID and going to Robbin Island this morning. The most frustrating thing has been sifting through the paranoia/advice about safty issues. Of course there will be much much more to come, but for now I’m going to scurry off to get paperwork signed and go grocery shopping (where last week I bought “Black Cat Peanut Butter” – reminds me of the Black Panthers).

the things I carry

July 4th, 2005

I leave in about a half an hour, and so the bags are down stairs and by the door.

baggage

The small backpack is open because I had to take out my camera in order to do this. Other than that, everything is set. I’ve been wavering back and forth between feeling really proud of how little I’m taking, and thinking I’m taking way too much. So, you can vote now. Does it look like a lot of stuff for a year??