and move towards our last, (performances run through March 18th) here’s
some background on the piece, from the Director’s Note I wrote for the
Arthur in Underland is one of the most personally
vulnerable pieces I’ve ever made. It is based on a year in my life that
turned everything I believed and wanted upside down. When I was 15 I
left my native Los Angeles to spend a year at Berkeley High School.
inner world no longer matched my outer and I was longing for new
models, new experiences and some way to feel less fragmented. I plunged
myself into a rush of boundary-pushing, rule-breaking and passionate
seeking. With the help of psychedelic drugs, spiritual teachings from
many different directions, a group of friends all stepping beyond the
familiar, and soul-stirring music–I fell in love and fell apart.
whole life was refocused around a spiritual path at my feet that I
could barely see through the haze of confusion and desire. Central to
this spiritual awakening was the blossoming of my love and desire for
men. I caught glimpses of same-sex love in some very dark corners. I
knew I wanted this and that it was somehow central to my inner truth,
but I approached this love in some clumsy, dangerous and highly
destructive ways. I came face to face with parts of myself emanating a
transcendent beauty and also parts decaying in shadows. I was
overwhelmed by questions and desires too wildly powerful for my teenage
psyche to integrate. I tumbled into a state of anxiety, obsession and
depression that took me many years to climb out of.
slowly processing these experiences over the past 25 years and cycling
through them in different forms over and over. When I made Friend with
the Dandelion ensemble in 2011, about the loss of my closest friend from
my teenage years, a host of memories and encounters resurfaced,
demanding to be explored. I had attempted to capture my 15th year in a
performance work for decades without success, but now it seemed I might
be finally ready. I relayed all the stories I could remember to ensemble
member Mantra Plonsey, and asked her to write a script that captured
the energies of what I experienced through a completely fictional story.
What she wrote blew me away. In the world she brought forth I’ve been
able to re-enter and embody the violent conflicts of my desire, fear,
confusion and longing to belong.
If we had tried to tell my stories in
factual detail, I don’t believe we would have been able to go half as
deep as we’ve gone. Arthur in Underland keeps teaching me new things
about myself and has pushed me to reclaim a vision for my life that is
bold, immediate and exhilarating. I am eternally grateful to Mantra and
all of the performer/collaborators for so tenderly accompanying me on
this journey and bringing forth such powerful transformation.
like to dedicate this piece to Barbara Davidson, who was a “safe adult”
for me thoughout my growing up and who very directly helped me to
integrate and celebrate my gayness and spiritual searching. Barbara
passed away as we made this work and I was reminded of what a large part
she played in my emergence from the world of shadows. May all young
seekers be fortunate enough to have a friend like Barbara along the
path–and may all beings be supported to live in direct contact with and
expression of their inner truths.