The weekend here was amazing.  Sean had his art opening, and carloads of Twin Oakers went into town to support him.    We have many small cars, a minivan, and a 15 passenger van (and a dump truck, and a couple big pickup trucks, and some cargo vans…), and we had at least 5 vehicles in town that night.  At least.  We filled Blanche Whipple (the 15 passenger van — all our cars have names so we can tell them apart), Vandrogony (the minivan), and a couple station wagons, and the Vulgar Bulgars took in one of the cargo vans with all of their instruments.   This may sound like a lot of vehicles (it IS a lot of vehicles!), but each and every one of them was completely full of people.

We showed up at the gallery just as Sean was starting his puppet show.  He’s legend at Twin Oaks for performing hilarious, off-beat, and very strange puppetry.  There was a crowd of at least 50 people gathered around him when we arrived, half Oakers and half not.  Sean had constructed a small wooden puppet booth, and multiple wooden puppets.  It’s impossible to describe the show itself… suffice it to say that it ended with a felt puppet of Ernie (from Sesame Street) chatting with a wooden puppet of James Brown, then being accosted by a giant one-eyed Bert.  I have some great pictures — if I could only figure out how to post them…  (any suggestions?)

The Vulgar Bulgars, our very own klezmer band, had come in to possibly play at the gallery.  There just wasn’t enough space with all the people that showed up, so they jaunted down the plaza (or, as it’s known in Charlottesville, the Downtown Mall) to the Twisted Branch Teahouse, a funky little venue where they’ve played many times before.  There wasn’t a band scheduled for the night, so the folks at the Twisted Branch offered them the stage.  After leaving Sean’s art opening, a large group of us trucked over to the Twisted Branch and listened and danced to the Vulgar Bulgars for hours.  It was a “Twin Oaks invades the Charlottesville arts scence” night.  I was so tickled to enjoy my friends as they created and shared their art with the world.  As I sat in front of the stage, adoring each band member in turn, I wrote in my journal: “Here we all are, enjoying the collective creation of us as creative beings, all feeling part of the the effort because our lives support this — I work to support Sean and Ezra and Kassia and Matt and Ben, and tomorrow night when I’m on stage, their work will be supporting my art.”

And so it was.  After a fantastic night of funky art and funky Klezmer, we headed back to the commune, where I woke the next day to get ready for the opening night of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (photos should be on the Twin Oaks website soon).   We performed the show on Saturday and Sunday, to deeply appreciative and deeply disturbed audiences.  It’s not a happy show (though it ends with hope), and people here are used to happy, silly, weird shows.  We usually manipulate the script in some way, but we just did this one straight.   We tried to have a cast party on Saturday night, but no one was in the mood for dancing after seeing the show so we all just  sat around and talked.   We didn’t “wow” the audience, we stunned them, and that makes this performance a much different experience for me than I’m used to.  I usually feed off the energy of the audience, thriving on their laughter and delight, and the effusive appreciation afterwards.  Not so with this show.  In absense of the thunderous applause and cheering, I’ve found myself drawing energy from my own appreciation for myself for doing this show, for seeing it through to completion, for challenging an audience (and a community) desiring easy laughs.  And now we’re moving on to Cabaret, another dark show (but at least it’s got musical numbers and dancing!).  Gamma Rays ended on Sunday, and we had our first directors’ meeting for Cabaret on Monday.  Where did I get the idea that I couldn’t be an actress if I moved to a commune?