Friday, April 3, 2009

the goddess tour

Bravo to Acorn Productions! They have pulled off another great presentation of Maine playwriting. This year's Maine Playwright Festival included seven short plays and two full-length plays. I was in the front row for The Goddess Tour, ready to applaud my island neighbor and good friend, Peg Astarita, who played Boo, one of six women gathered at an Irish inn on the Burren of County Clare. Peg is a goddess in her own right, creator of divine figures such as the one above. Thanks, Kathie Schneider, for this photo. Also in the cast was fellow islander, Stephanie Eliot, who played half of a lesbian couple determined to adopt a daughter in Beijing. Her character's righteous superiority was played with deft cunning. And another islander, Julie Goell, directed the ambitious terrain.

Here's the set at the St. Lawrence Theater.

I was in County Clare once, ages ago. Waiting for the play to begin, I wished I was arriving at an Irish inn myself. Once the drama began, I got completely sucked in to the complex web of feminine dynamics. Playwright Carolyn Gage touched on pretty deep emotional territory, such as loss, adoption, abuse, motherhood, womanhood, murder, media, racism. What didn't get covered? Fortunately, Boo provided plenty of comic relief at all the right moments.

I was primed for the goddess topic. I've been contributing to a Lunar Calendar for over 25 years, subtitled "dedicated to the goddess in all her guises." I've drawn my share of goddess representations over the years, learning crytpic bits here and there, but overall feeling a growing reverence for the Divine Feminine. My knowledge of goddess history is pretty unacademic, compared to Lorraine, who plays the PhD leader of the goddess tour. She trots out paraphenalia for a ritual to the goddess on the eve of Imbolc, to break the tension quite visible among the women gathered.

This was my first contribution to the Lunar Calendar.

Inspired by Art Deco at the time, my goddess was nubile.

I played around with collage in this piece, evocative of some dreamy divine space.

And this collage echoes the silhouette idea, which bears a connection to Peg's ceramic figures.

In fact, images of shells, birds, crescents, and the sea recur in my Lunar Calendar works. This is titled "Sacred Vessel" from the 2001 Lunar Calendar.

This is "Luna Pearl" from the 2005 cover, when the publisher, the intrepid Nancy F. W. Passmore was trying to keep her little moon boat afloat. Keep looking up, Nancy!

"Crescent Mirror", in the current calendar, accompanies a poem by Marge Piercy.
An excerpt...

Maybe you're a mirror
in which we see ourselves
ghostly, white as the sheer
curtains of my childhood
we turned into wings

This is "Cosmic Coronation" that leaps for joy in delight for the stars.

This year's cover is vivid, borrowing from Bangla reference still in my studio from illustrating Rickshaw Girl.

Based on a Hindu goddess, Prithvi is earthy, with animal instincts and multiple powers of perception.

Back on stage, The Goddess Tour brought its participants full circle in revelations of guilt, anger, humililty, and the power of forgiveness. I realized I don't have to go to Ireland and visit ancient ruins to approach the divine. There are old rocks, cosmic connections, and plenty of strong women right here!

A standing ovation for the entire cast! Only one performance left: this Saturday, April 4....
go see it.

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