Some days you step up to the plate and Life just chucks the ball right at your head to get you to wake the hell up. Today was that kind of day for me.
My day job is a pretty great day job. They let me make my own schedule, they let me take four weeks off over the summer to go play horn in Missouri and California, they let me have red, blonde, and black locs without batting an eye. And it’s a production job, helping put on great community and education shows together around the boroughs.
Another reason why it’s great is that it keeps me hungry. It keeps me wanting more out of my performance career when I meet these accomplished artists and see them perform. And sometimes, when I’m really lucky, I get to hear them talk.
These are the Villalobos Brothers.
They are an incredible ensemble out of Veracruz, Mexico, and I’ve had the honor of working production for them on shows out at libraries this summer. They’ve got a big final show coming up, and one of the brothers, Ernesto, came into the office today to talk with our teaching artists about their background, their music, and their visual art.
If you ever get the chance to listen to a down-to-earth virtuoso musician talk, do it. Everything that came out of his mouth were truths I really needed to hear. The hard work, the years of practice, the love that has to be there for your craft. And most importantly, the fact that your work should mean something from a standpoint of observing the state of the world we live in- otherwise, what is the point? No, really. What’s the point?
It made me think about the unrest in Ferguson, and how in this period of time I’ve put out more writing than I have in ages. Sure, most of it was on Facebook, but it was writing I truly believed in, writing that opened me up and made me vulnerable to people whom I respect and admire. In my state of feeling helpless to do anything to help my fellow humans who were being so unjustly marginalized, I did what I could do, which was inform, and keep the flame of the topic alight in the capricious blizzard that is social media.
(P.S.- Shit is still happening there. This is nowhere near over. Keep listening. Don’t let social media let you forget that we are still due for a lot of justice and change in this country.)
Watch this video that the Villalobos Brothers put out, have your mind blown (those masks have zero eye holes), and then go see them perform for FREE in a couple of weeks (see bottom of post).
Ok so yeah now I’m gonna talk about one huge bastard of a clown.
This is the Red Bastard.
He comes out of the Bouffon tradition of clowning. If you haven’t heard of it, you can read a little bit about it here, but the basic jist is that un ugly, fat, man gets to try to insult beautiful people to the point where they want to off themselves. It is not the type of show to which you bring your friend with depression issues. I’m serious.
I came to learn about a type of clowning I wasn’t familiar with and wanted to see in action, and came away insulted, bruised (in ego only, not in body), and… really, the stronger for it. He tore us down until we could do nothing but tell the truth to him, and he used those truths to tear us down further. We told him our dreams, our innermost desires, and he put them in the starkest of lights, informing us of their futility, because of the sea of excuses with which we surround them. He challenged us to say the things we’ve wanted to say to someone but were too afraid to, and then took it a step further and challenged us to call those people right then and there and tell them. One guy did it. He called a friend who had just moved and told her to take care of her kids. I never knew that theatre could even be this real.
There were many more things that happened that I will not describe here, because he has one more performance in Brooklyn this Saturday night and you should go to it (see bottom of post), and be surprised and amazed.
If you aren't convinced, here's a little taste of the big, disgusting clown:
I don’t even know what to do with all of this information yet. I knew I needed to write it down and share it with you, while I am still breathless and in wonderment from it all, before the stars in my eyes fade and I plod back to my daily life. Because having both of these experiences in one day means something, and it means something very specific for me. The specificity eludes me currently.
Maybe sleep will help.
Saturday, September 27th, 2:30pm
David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center
More info here
The Red Bastard
Saturday, September 13th, 10:30pm
The Brick Theatre in Williamsburg
Buy tickets here