We’ve arrived in beautiful Bend Oregon. With two community shows, two workshop sessions, and the Ben show under our belt, we’ve wasted no time since arrival. We’re camped at a gorgeous piece of private property outside the town of Sisters. Jagged snowy mountains lie to the south and east, pine trees sprinkle the landscape and a giant radiant moon sweetly shines on us at night. Peacocks roam about and yowl regularly. Tents sprawl about it all directions.
This stop is sort of Chautauqua family picnic, and a number of Chautauquans who couldn’t do the whole tour have come to visit for this final stop. In particular there is an influx of elders, not that they’re old, just that they’ve been on way more tours than any of us 20 somethings, which make up the majority of the tour demographic. So that is really nice to see and experience, especially for us newer Chautauquans. Helps us feel more connected as a continuation of this long strange history.
Our first show was as at a senior lunch center, the second a Boys and Girls Club. We had several hundred attentive children at that show, mostly elementary and middle school aged. Afterwards we taught them all our skills in the packed gym of workshops. It’s quite satisfying to see someone learn to juggle for the first time, or throw a knot into a rope, or do their first acro move. The children were thrilled.
Last night we had our infamous Ben Show, a private event just for ourselves. The only rule is that you can’t do something you normally do. So we performed parody after parody of just about every act in the show. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Song lyrics rewritten, costumes sneakily borrowed for maximum satire potential, men as princesses, spoofs on loading the truck and morning meetings, and so on and on. The ridiculousness was over the top and we laughed all the way through.
The atmosphere around the fire after the Ben Show was very special. There’s nothing like laughing for two hours to put you in a good mood. We were feeling quite silly; there was an impromptu jam song about “stinguished” in all its many forms. As the moon rose higher and higher, the guitar was passed around the circle. One song at a time we serenaded each other with a barrage of comedic songs and a couple of heartfelt ones too. An occasional peacock wail pierced through the night.
Currently we are in the newly opened Bend Circus Center teaching more workshops. This is a nice space where people can come together and work on all sorts of circus stuff. They offer a variety of classes as well as open playtime. Further proof of the burgeoning circus movement, there seems to be a growing revival of this form of skill and play.
Tomorrow we have our big show in downtown Bend, and our closing circle in the morning. On Sunday, we say goodbye and head off to home or wherever our many paths take us. Most people will reconvene at the Oregon Country Fair, the event that essentially birthed Chautauqua 31 years ago, after Patch Adams and the Flying Karamazov Brothers decided to take the OCF experience on the road.
Until next time friends, toodle-oo. Look out for the final entry to come up soon. I’ll abandon the logistics and try to really get into the heart of the matter. We’ve been on the road camping and performing for almost 3 weeks now. It’s hard to describe the changes that undergo during this time, but there’s not a single one of us who hasn’t learned and grown immensely on this journey. It’s like alchemy for the soul, only sillier.