Thursday, June 14, 2007

Arts and Ideas

I am hysterically passionate about the New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas. I've been crazy about it for 12 years. It's just so good. Circuses, European street performance, African opera, people in giant skirts swaying on flexible poles 50 feet in the air, belligerent brass marching bands who steal children and bicycles. It's just got to be experiened.

This year they asked me to do a reading on the New Haven Green as part of it. I was out of my head with excitement, and nervous. I fretted over the preparation for weeks. I wanted it to be a real performance, not just a reading. Karl built a set, we rehearsed and rehearsed. And on the day it happened, last Saturday, it rained, pretty hard.

This was good and bad. Bad in that the turnout was low, but good in that after my puppets, my markers, my books, my assistants, my audience, all got rained on, I figured anything I could pull off at that point would be great. My house of 14 crowded onto the 12 x 8 foot tented stage, my soggy puppets set around their feet, and did the One Grain of Sand routine, where I draw and dance the book while someone (Karl this time) sings along. It turned out to be my best performance yet. Largely because so many great friends turned out despite the misery: The Osbourne family, Bob Bresnick, Margaret Carl, ElizaB, and two lovely CWOS ladies whose names I'm sorry I didn't write down. It was intimate and even a little magical with Karl's soft singing and the rain pouring down all around our tiny tent.

I gave out fish puppets, and a couple of the kids took to them like... fish to water.

It was too wet for any camera to take pictures, but later Tony Baloney captured my name in VINYL on the official Arts and Ideas banner. It was kind of a dream come true, actually.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Boston Public Library

Anna and I took part in the Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy's 10th Anniversary Festival at the Boston Public Library 2 weekends ago. We had tables with our books, and gave 5 minute presentations to a big round rug full of kids in the stately Map Room of the old library.

It was good to watch other author/illustrators, especially Anna who is fantastic with kids. I had to go last (curses alphabetisism!) when the kids were tired and figety. But the book puppet woke them up. And I'm learning the magic of drawing. If I've got an antsy or chattering crowd, just starting to draw will put them into a sudden trance. This is true with adults as well. It's a phenomenon.

One silent girl who'd been circling my table at a distance finally came and told me she really liked my drawings. I asked her and a couple others to make puppets with me. There was a choice of birds or fish. She was the only one who picked a bird, which was a simple posterboard puppet with a moving wing. I showed her how to make it fly while I puppeteered clouds and the sea around it. Though she'd been serious looking all day, at that moment her face lit up, and I could tell she felt exactly the way I feel when puppets move, especially when I make them move, and that was one of the best things I'd experienced in a long time.

Anna at the easle, and later, me, looking like I'm about to eat the pig I'm drawing. Thanks to Anna for the photos!

Monday, June 04, 2007

more dangerous beauty

We celebrated the completion of my dummy by spending a day in NYC. We toured the USS Wasp open for Fleet Week. It's got a flight deck for helicopters, a hospital, and a massive inner dock for launching amphibious vehicles.

The little dudes love sitting in the helicopters.

So do the big dudes.

We rounded the day off with catching Xanadu on Broadway. Of course I loved it. (Really it's a lot better then anyone would expect.)