It has Begun!

There really is nothing quite like watching a convicted inmate act like a clown onstage in front of an entire prison, or run around like a child with a giant red heart in his burly arms. Or to see a 25 year old serenade an 80 year old woman with “Won’t you be mine tonight” and her beaming smiling answer “Yes.” These are the moments that make sense of this adventure, but first, some details.

We camped at Union Creek Campground, about 20 miles from Baker City. We had a beautiful spot nestled in the pine trees along a lake-shore. The elevation was 4200 feet. The camp host was very hospitable. As we were cleaning up she said, “You guys are a very wonderful group. It’s been a pleasure to have you here. I didn’t have to work that much at all. You kept the bathrooms clean and the neighbors happy. We hope you come back.”

The first two days were spent with meetings, rehearsals, band practice, swimming, and various sorts of preparing. Buckstop positions were assigned, as in the buck stops here. That’s how we make tour work. Everybody is responsible for at least one job. For example, recycling coordinator, truck loader, kitchen guru, shower set up, Lou upkeep, photographer, coffee maker and so on and on.

Then suddenly it all began! We paraded through main street Baker City in full flying colorful regalia. Marching band tooting away, jugglers everywhere, clowns and capes and costumes galore, a sight to behold, we frolicked with vigor and finally made it back to the park for the free workshops.

Juggling, drumming, mask making, clowning, acrobatics, ukulele, word portraits, and an interactive digestive melodrama were all included. They were well attended by children and adults alike. It’s a beautiful thing to see someone learn to juggle for the first time, or watching 10 people sing and play along in an easy to learn ukulele jam.

That night was our first “big show.” We performed well but there was a feeling of anticlimax as we only had about 40 people in a theatre for 800. This was somewhat related to the degree of prior preparation by our local sponsor. But they did help get us there and we remain thankful. These things happen, we make the most of it.

The next day was when the magic really started kicking in. We performed at the Powder River Correctional Facility minimum-security prison. and wow what an incredible experience for everyone involved. We made through the security checkpoint (easier than TSA), and entered the yard. Inmates gradually made there way from work out stations, basketball courts, horse-shoe games and other activities over to our corner. Somebody asked “How do you pronounce that word on the banner?” (Referring to Chautauqua of course)

“Guess,” said our MC StevenWeven.

“Shuh-Tawk-Wa.” And powerful cheers erupted from both sides of the dividing path as he pronounced our name correctly. The atmosphere was set. We did a mini parade and the show began.

The first act was Scramble the Clown who brought up several inmates as audience volunteers. He immediately got them to start walking like him, a joyful skipping clown strut if you will. Laughter filled the yard and quite immediately it became apparent that something special was happening. Yes they rode around on an invisible motorcycle with a clown, like children frolicking at recess. They loved every bit of the show, but the audience involvement bits were over the top hilarious. ClayMazing brought up 3 or 4 people for Bee Bones (an interactive theatrical ridiculous song play). Someone played Love and someone else played Sunshine and the whole crowd acted like the ocean as the act unfolded in spontaneous silly beauty.

These are criminals? At least that day, it looked a lot more like summer camp for adults. After the show we shook hands with everyone we could. One man said, “I have been here for 20 years, and that’s the most fun I’ve ever had.” I think that sums it up.

From there we went to a retirement home and did another community show. The wonder of these shows is apparent in the faces of the people we perform for. Wide eyes and wider smiles locked onto the stage for the entire duration. Afterwards we got to hang out, shake hands and talk with the residents.

When we got back to camp that night, festivity was in the air. There was feeling of success and clarity. Like, oh yeah, THAT’S why were here, okay, it makes sense now. The campfire burned late and song after song was sung into the night as people slowly trickled off to bed.

That was Baker City, the first town of the trip. Yesterday we traveled, and now here we are in Enterprise, a little historic town in far North-Eastern Oregon. It rained hard last night, many of us awoke with puddles in our tent, but alas, it’s already clearing up and we’re off to go do some more community shows.

Thanks for reading and check back in to hear all about Enterprise.

Sincerely,

Dr. Bonkers

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Posted in 2012 Oregon Tour, New Old Time Chautauqua | 1 Comment

Around the Bend Tour! (Or is it…?)

Get ready Eastern Oregon because the New Old Time Chautauqua is coming to town. That’s right folks, we’re back in action and soon we’ll be jubilantly caravanning across the great Beaver State. Buckle your shoelaces and tie your seatbelts. In the event of a total merriment flood, your clown nose can be used as a floatation device. Juggling clubs will deploy from the sky above you. Please remain festive.

Alas! Here we are again, slowly congregating, retracting from our day-to-day lives and preparing for yet another uniquely Chautauquan vaudeville adventure. Spread across the country, we are shifting gears, upshifting, outshifting perhaps, and making our merry way to the first camp. There we unite, ignite the group mind, and begin to practice.

Ah how sweet, the excited greetings of old friends, many of who haven’t seen each other since saying goodbye last year. Where does the time go? I remember vividly the hugs and laughs and tears as our goodbyes were uttered after the whirlwind journey that was Alaska. And so we’ve gone our own ways and circled the sun once more. Now we come together again like colorful strings in a quilt, to weave wonder whatever the weather wherever we wander. Excitement is in the air.

Here is a brief rundown of the tour:

We initiate in Baker City (6/23), cruise to Enterprise (6/28), gallivant to Pendleton (6/30), jaunt to John Day (7/3), and boogie to Bend (7/7). The parentheses indicate the big show. The amazingly spectacular workshops, parades, free shows, and service projects revolve around those. Please see www.chautauqua.org for details. It’s a fantastic site.

By the way, we are a non-profit organization. Our mission is to strengthen communities through laughter, entertainment, and education. Booya.

Well we haven’t started tour yet but none-the-less here’s a little glimpse into our wacky world. After inquiring about the name of the tour, a knowledgeable board member responded as such:

“Due to some technical complications (as well as communications complications), the results of the voting aren’t incredibly clear.  I’m pretty sure “Around the Bend” tour got the most votes, but since there were late entries, it isn’t totally for sure.  Other close competitors were “Bend or Bust!”, “High Desert Tour”, and “Oregon Trail Vaudeville Tour”.”

Wow, we had a communication issue between 60 distant artists? Who’da thunk it? On that note I bid you farewell for now friends. Keep posted for more updates from the golden road: the trials and tribulations, the triumphs and the glory, the madness, the sadness, the silliness and the uncontainable joy. Stay tuned as it unfolds before you…

Sincerely,

Eli “Dr. Bonkers” March

Posted in 2012 Oregon Tour, New Old Time Chautauqua | Leave a comment

Happiest Sad Day Ever!

Well today is the last day of the 2011 Midnight Sun Vaudeville Tour and what a tour it has been. Just yesterday we had our closing circle, hiked to a glacier, performed at a senior center, and threw ourselves the infamous Ben Show, or in this case, the Has Ben Show. Currently we are somewhere in between two parades, workshops, breaking camp and a big theatre show. But first, Homer!

So we left Chickaloon village in the afternoon and begin the arduous journey to Homer. A deadly accident left the main highway closed for hours, so we found a parking lot, made dinner, and threw Carmen the best 11th birthday party ever! Complete with ice cream cake, surprise stilt gifting, changing tires on the U-Haul trailer, singing of course, and a ceremonial pie in the face from Miles, our 10-year old superstar. Oh how the children brighten up our days.

Finally getting back on the highway we drove the quick 7-hour trip through the dark, rainy, windy, whiney road and arrived at 5 in the morning Friday. Luckily, our hosts, the Arts Council of Homer provided a warm dry place for our sleeping pleasures. The next day was followed by three parades, two shows, and a great time.

First we paraded down the Homer Spit, an exposed finger of land stretching miles into Kachemak bay. Wind howling, the jugglers were reduced to mere spinners, the horn players tooted with all their might and we paraded on, a flood of smiles in our wake. Then in downtown, we paraded to the park and gave a teaser show. Still full of gusto, a large number of us bussed on over to SalmonStock, a new Alaskan festival that booked us on main stage at the last minute, hooray!  Not only were the show and festival super fun, but passing the hat managed to raise another 300 dollars for Chautauqua. Woohoo!

Saturday featured a parade and show at the Homer Farmers market. Then our usual two hour workshop session had literally HUNDREDS of attendees learning to juggle, hoop, spin, mask make, quilt, guerilla garden, play ukulele, do magic and more. And that evening the show, the big show!

Yet again we manage to turn a show into an experience where the boundary between audience and performer was gradually dissolved by laughter and awe, leaving one giant scene of celebration. The more we gave, the more they gave, and so on. Afterwards, several audience members I spoke to said it was the best show they ever saw. Booya!

Sleep when you’re dead! Early to rise and off to Ionia, a unique, isolated intentional community whose philosophy is based on good food, organic, vegan, fresh, macrobiotic diets. Although I still don’t know what macrobiotic is. They fed us a delicious lunch on their beautiful property. We even managed to catch a 70-degree sunny day to perform, teach and frolic with them in their large grassy field, aww. So we said goodbye to our new friends and hit the road to Seward.

Rolling hills of fireweed descended down to the bay, where far on the other side, massive snowcapped, glacier carved mountains rose thousands of feet into the stratalocirrus cloud streaked sky. I can make up words if I want to, that’s how pretty it is. Everywhere, huge jagged mountains rise up an all sides of us, big braiding rivers flow between, some silty with glacier melt, others crystal clear. Pink Fireweed speckles it all, and the weather changes faster than our emotions, sunny and glorious to cold and rainy, every day is a surprise.

So we arrived at Seward late in the night, pulled out our wet tents, and set up camp in the dark rain, which was awesome! There’s nothing like a positive attitude, (and hot soup) to make grueling situations fun and silly. And yes you heard me right, it finally got dark. The combo of our southward momentum and the quick seasonal shift leaves us with at least 4 hours of actual night now. With the first starry night in Homer, all the locals joked seriously, that summer is over.

So with tour winding to a close, the feeling is of jubilance, silliness, and accomplishment. Mixing that with impending goodbyes and the knowledge that it’s nearly over makes this the happiest sad day ever. We really did put the unity in community, and nothing reflects that better than our closing circle. Not to be confused with a meeting by the way, circles are special, meetings are logistical, now you know. So we circulated out on the grass and right on cue the sun burst through the clouds, shining upon us, glorious and warm, and one by one we spoke our final thoughts.

Sometimes provoking laughter, other times tears; everybody had something different to say. But throughout the circle some common themes were woven. Themes of triumph, over the hardships we encountered in ourselves and the larger group, of success, in spreading our unique brand of joy to places that truly appreciate it, of community, all of us coming together through thick and thin to keep the dream alive. And of course, humor, as somebody said at last years closing tour, that was reiterated this year, “It could have been worse.” Haha! But could it have been better? It doesn’t matter now, mistakes were made and we try to learn from them. But the fact is, it was what was and what it was was wonderful.

After closing circle we went to Kenai Fjords National Park and hiked to Exit Glacier, a massive, moving hulk of ice literally millions of years old, but melting fast. A warm walk, until right near the edge, when the chilly catabatic winds came flying down the mountainside, the Glacier’s own homemade weather system.  Like so many other glaciers though, it could be totally gone within 50 years, maybe sooner. The lines of retreat were marked by year signs, the hike starts with a sign reading 1917, and so on, for a mile through time almost a hundred years to it’s present location, where it shrinks quicker by the year.

Then a moment of rest, NOT! Actually we quickly changed and went to yet another senior center where we rocked the worlds of many long-term care patients. My favorite moment came right after the show, when we were mingling.

A frail, little old lady held out her delicate hand, Joey held it, and she, whispered, in the faintest yet most powerful voice, “I liked that.” Then she brought his hand to her face, and began to cry.  They sat there together, hand to cheek, for a long moment and I saw in her smiling, weeping face the purpose of it all. The meaning of all this mayhem sparkled off her tears like a beacon of light in a world growing darker. The whole reason we leave everything behind for a month, the ignored bills piling in our mailboxes, the paying gigs we skipped, the jobs we didn’t get, the summer we barely had, the dirty bus, cold nights, wet tents, long roads, and sleepless nights just don’t matter, they never did. All the money in the world could not buy a moment like that. There it was, her face showed us, like so many others the real reason we prevail, singing in the rain, laughing through the night, indefatigable spirits fueled by the notion that this is much than a show on wheels. This is the change, and we are living it. So yet again I offer you the words that have become our way of life: the show must go on.

Alas! Evening is upon us and there is one more show to do. Then it’s back on the bus, and off to the lower 48, where warm beds and sunny days await. So until then, toodle-oo.  It’s about a 4-day journey. I will post at least one more entry after returning. One of them will be journalistic in nature, recapping all the communities we visited and organizations we teamed up with, as well as quotes and stories from people along the way, hopefully including photos. The other will come bubbling out of my rejuvenated heart, a recap of the journey, not just the where and what, but an attempt to capture little essence of the whole experience, a little snapshot of what it means, to truly be ON THE BUS.

Sincerely, Midnight Sun Vaudeville Tour Blog Monkey Extraordinaire,

Eli “Dr. Bonkers” March

Posted in Midnight Sun Tour, New Old Time Chautauqua | 1 Comment

Photo Time!

Talkeetna Theater

Yay! I finally feel caught up enough on the words to post some photos. And by the way, morale is up! We got a break from the cold and the rain today, and are currently frolicking about the grassy fields, or else working on a myriad of projects, bus repair, dinner prep, surprise presents for a little Birthday girl, ultimate frisbee, acro, juggling, blogging, etc…

Trail Blazing

The real jewel of the day however, was our last minute trip to the Palmer Senior Center. Planned this morning, and performed this afternoon, we paraded into that little building in full flying colorful musical circus glory. The show was 45 minutes, and many of the faces were just fully glowing the whole time, people clapped along and cheered with joy. Whats really great about these shows, and we will probably hear about soon, is the residual energy we leave there. According to numerous reports from past senior centers, (paraphrased by me), the atmosphere is left more vibrant and a sense of happiness prevails for days. You’d believe me if you saw those smiles.

The Bus came by and I got on, Thats when it all began...

Also, I caught some editorial errors in some previous entries, forgive me, there’s always a bus to catch, a show to do, or sleep to get. Grammer is not my priority, that’s why I spelled it wrong. Conveying the action and the feeling of this whirlwind tour is my priority. Anyway… Here’s the biggest mountain in North America photographed from the sky.

Denali from the Airplane

So it was revealed to us that yesterday, the cold rainy day when we worked on the trail, we were all served DECAF! Ahhhhh! No wonder we lacked gusto, and yes it was an accident. We didn’t find out until today, when somebody read the fine print. Not surprisingly, we ended up drinking about twice as much as usual, and still took naps after work. We did finish the work though! Hehehe, a good social experiment at least…

Stephen on a Stick

The real Stephen Bent couldn’t make it this time, for the first time in many years. He had to go perform in London with the Flying K’s. Darn. But none-the-less he was bummed to miss this tour. And we miss him too, so we we brought him on a stick. Cheers Mate.

Typical Wedding Reception... Amiel and Hallie, hours after being married, stand in the middle of flying flaming torches. That was a super fun wedding by the way; a beautiful ceremony up on a little mountain was followed by a rollicking reception that went late into the un-night.

And for the last photo, in true self indulgent fashion, I present my glowing balls. Bringing juggling to a whole new light, as Harry said.

Glowballs

See I’m not a liar, photos at last. Even if they come in no particular order. And of course there are even more up on facebook. So thanks for looking, I’ll do my darndest to put up more soon.

Go do something silly!

Sincerely, Blog Monkey Extraordinaire,

Eli “Dr. Bonkers” March

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August in Alaska!

Happy 30th Anniversary Chautauqua!

The feeling of Chautauqua tour, despite occasional hard times, is ultimately one of jubilance and merriment. We are like a festival on wheels, and really that’s how it all started.

30 years ago the Flying Karamazov Brothers, Patch Adams, and friends decided to join forces to create something that hadn’t really been seen in America for half a century. Largely inspired by the Oregon Country Fair, they decided to take their unique brand of entertainment and healing on the road. Thus began the New Old Time Chautauqua, reviving a tradition dating back to the 1870’s that all but died out with the advent of television. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Chautauqua – a gathering that is typically American in that it is typical of America at its best.” And so three decades later, here we are, some new-timers, some old timers, and all new old-timers. The new generation blending with last one, continuing to spread our magic far and wide.

So that’s your history lesson, short but sweet. See our website for more.

Update Time!

It’s August in Alaska and do you know what that means? Rain, followed by showers with wind, mostly cloudy, and a chance of showers, followed by rain. Woohoo! Seriously, August first greeted us with wet skies and no sign of letting up. We get an occasional break from the precipitation, but haven’t seen the sun in a few days now. All in all we are persisting with our positive outlook, but camping in the rain does affect morale to a certain extent.

The romantic edge of touring through Alaska, though not worn away entirely, feels somewhat diminished. Our bodies are sore and tired, the days cold and nights colder, wetness prevails, and moods change like the weather. None-the-less, we are still having a good time, and we are still accomplishing our goals. The crackling fire at night provides warmth and fun, as we share jokes and songs. This is fun after all!

Palmer

In Palmer we camped at the Alaska state fair grounds, not quite as nature-is, but fun in it’s own way, (and still surrounded by tall jagged mountain peaks). It was a classic Chautauqua visit. On the first day we did two parades, each followed by a teaser show. On the second day we gave our two-hour workshop session, which was well attended. I particularly liked the song swap, which involved about a dozen people jamming together, filling the building with songs as others learned to juggle, spin, acro-balance, magic, garden and more. The song swap also brought us some local talent. We invited them into our evening show where they did a few new old timey songs as Ode to the Roadies, a real family band joined by our own Uncle Pom.

That evening’s big show was in the high school gym. From my biased point of view it was a good performance and very well received; perhaps not quite as “electric” as some other shows, but definitely great. Sometimes I find myself and others being self critical (oh no, my act wasn’t perfect!), but talking to the audience afterwards reaffirms that the show was still thoroughly enjoyed and featured many spectacles they had never seen before.

The next day was a rare day off, and naturally, it rained the whole time. We split into several groups; some of us went on a hike to Hatcher Pass, a gorgeous mountain spot and historic mining site. It featured a hike to Gold Cord Lake, where the brave amongst us (girls of course) jumped in for a frigid swim and dried off in the rain. Another group took the van into Anchorage to do some busking for the group. Despite the weather, they were able to raise over 300 dollars for Chautauqua. “1,2,3 Fantastico!” A small group went to a car show to play music with the locals we had invited into our show the day before. The next morning we packed up and went to…

Chickaloon Village

Currently we are camping at Chickaloon Village. It is basically a community center and school to promote and preserve native Athabasca culture. There are only 70 people left who speak the language, and this is a place where they continue to teach it, as well as other cultural values.

Here is my understanding of the situation. Although many different specific tribes exist here in Alaska, such as the Ahtna people, who lived here, Athabasca includes about 12 different native peoples and languages spanning a large swath of the southern half of Alaska. Now, after much cultural dissemination by white settlers, they have sort of identified themselves together under the name of Athabasca in a way to unite and promote native heritage and culture. That’s my personal interpretation, so forgive me if I am wrong.

This place was the property of an elder grandmother named Katherine Wade. She has now passed, but her home and her legacy live on here and beyond. Half white, half native, she was a powerful force in easing tensions and promoting native culture. Her old house sits on the edge of a large hill that goes down to the river. Historically there was a trail down the long steep embankment where they would go to gather water. It was long overgrown until this crazy vaudeville caravan rolled in.

It was our third service project of this trip, the first was farming at Calypso Community Farm, the second was deconstruction of an old building at the Northern Susitna Institute, the third was here, and we restored the old trail going down to the river. It is amazing how much we can accomplish when over 30 people get to work at the same time. To the surprise and delight of our hosts, we are nearly finished now, and in our wake we leave a beautiful, well-built path that descends from behind the sacred house of Katie Wade, several hundred feet to the banks of the Matanuska River.

Last night we had a community potluck here, although it was not as well attended, as we would have liked, the gathering was still special. It ended with one of there elders singing and playing guitar with some of our musicians jamming along with him, and everybody singing together in the little dining hall, wonderful.

Today we are finishing the trail and weeding their rock garden. At 2:00 we are going into to Palmer for a community show at a senior center. Those are often my favorites as we leave them with something truly memorable.

Tomorrow we will teach our workshops here, and follow them with a show. Then we drive 8 hours to Homer, wash, rinse, repeat. We are really into the rhythm of things now, the group dynamic is pretty settled, far from perfect, but great in it’s own way. Personally, I am longing for sunshine, as I think it will revive our spirits, but there is none in the forecast. Another good show always pumps us up too, so we’ll see what today and tomorrow bring. I feel another good upswing in the works… yes… it’s coming around. The next update, maybe even today, will have lots of photos, I promise.

Thanks for staying posted,

Sincerely, Blog Monkey Extra-unordinary

Eli “Dr. Bonkers” March

P.S.

Just now, is it real or tease? Glorious rays of sunshine, peeking through the clouds, rays of happiness to dry our souls, shine on!

Posted in Midnight Sun Tour, New Old Time Chautauqua | Leave a comment

Down by the Riverside

The four days in Talkeetna was a special experience for everybody involved. Talkeetna is from the native Athabasca language; Na means river, and Talkeetna means river of plenty. A reference to large game in the area and especially it’s thriving salmon run that fed native peoples for thousands of years. Literally, artifacts have been found in that region dating back over 6,000 years. But now, with its mountain and river access, plus panoramic views, it has become largely a tourist destination. They flock in for the day, and vanish at night. The locals hold it down day and night, all year round. If you stay for enough winters, they might consider you a one. Many say Winter’s the most beautiful time, with clear cloudless skies, white moonlight landscapes, frozen sparkling trees and of course, the Aurora Borealis dancing over it all.

Anyway…

I’d say that funky little town rocked our world just as much as we theirs. The generosity of the people was immense. They gifted us free rides on riverboats, tours on tiny planes over Denali and the Alaska Range, and even a rafting trip for the whole group. It was so wonderful for us to get those opportunities to really dive into the Alaska wilderness and see some of the splendor up close. Thank you.

And the shows, the shows! For two nights in a row we delivered solid three-hour performances to a sold out crowd, receiving standing ovations both times. Both nights were truly great, but the first show was particularly inspiring to me. Here is what I wrote in my journal the next day.

“Last nights show was exceptionally special. The bond between performers and audience was strong, the boundary thin. The energy was really flowing, us to them, them to us, back again and on and on until we all became just one big group of celebration and joy. To me, that is what performance is all about, it’s creating an experience that is completely outside “normal” reality, and I believe even one of those experiences can create a huge positive shift. It can break down barriers and let in new possibilities. When it’s really on, it’s on, and everyone can feel it, like electricity in the air.”

The whole experience in Talkeetna was one of generous giving, we gave all we could, and so did they. At the days end, we would find ourselves gathering by the riverside, in a perpetual dusk, Chautauquans and locals alike. With a fire crackling, mountains glowing and rivers flowing, we shared songs and laughter as well as culture. We juggled fire in front of Denali. We watched the mountains turn from textured peaks, to jagged silhouettes and back again.  They talked about the seasons, and we talked about the bus trips. It was a truly delightful cultural crossover. And so back on the bus we go, to the next town, for the next adventure…

Sincerely, Blog Monkey Extraordinaire,

Eli “Dr. Bonkers” March

Posted in Midnight Sun Tour, New Old Time Chautauqua | 1 Comment

Tears and Laughs in the Shadow of Denali

We have arrived in the quaint little town of Talkeetna, a place where three rivers meet in a large beautiful valley.  The Alaska Range including Denali, the highest mountain in North America, sits on the horizon, timeless snowcapped peaks. Today it appeared from the clouds for the first time in two days just as the sun dipped behind in shades of pink and purple. The river rises and falls like tides, as the warm days melt the glaciers and the cool nights freeze them. Everything moves in cycles and it’s all the more noticeable in the vast wilderness. It gets almost practically dark at night now.

The people here are extremely excited to have us. They say this is the most exciting thing to happen here since 13 years ago, when Chautauqua last visited. We had a most glorious parade down Main Street today, joined by a number of locals and lots of children. All the town people were beaming. We gave a free show in the park, and they loved it. This type of thing just doesn’t happen here, but here we are, and it is happening. The people are VERY appreciative. In a town this small, our impact is all the more substantial.

 Tomorrow we will teach workshops, and do an extra long show (at their request) in the local theater.

I apologize again for lack of photos. My computer broke and the borrowing/transferring/technicalwhat?/busyness have made it quite tricky. I will keep trying, but for now there are a lot of wonderful tour photos on our Facebook page, so check ’em out. 

Before moving on, I would like to share a letter from the Calypso Community Farm. “Thank You, Chautauqua! We loved having you here at the farm! Your show was amazing, and you are all really nice people! Thanks again,
Addie, Calypso farm”

And thank you! For being such gracious hosts.

 Now for a brief reality check:

The road here has been a tough one. We may make it look easy, but it certainly is not. Many tears have fallen already. We are all working hard, and facing exhaustion. Sometimes people make mistakes (it happens), and sometimes tempers run short. Sometimes we have expectations that are not met. Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own. But through the struggles there is a certain intangible guiding force that keeps us moving forward, keeps us steering towards the light.

The power of community is a hard thing to capture in words. Yes we are greater than the sum of our parts, but it is more than that. We are a big family, and we are all here for each other, as well as for the people and communities we interact with. With each challenge, we grow stronger,  and we keep on keepin’ on. Everybody’s emotions are felt by the whole group; in a sense we all share the same tears and the same laughs. The thread that ties us together is made out of love, love for each other, for our art, and for the people and places we visit. Each hardship just tightens the thread. We are learning and growing; we do the best we can.

There is a wooden sign we carry with us, it says, “We don’t work for free for nothing.” I think that really captures the essence of this mission. There is a sense that it means more than just the shows, parades, workshops, work parties and smiling faces. That at least for now we have captured that hard to find feeling that we are being the change we wish to see in the world, and we are making a difference.

Sincerely, Blog Monkey Extraordinaire,

Eli “Dr. Bonkers” March

Posted in Midnight Sun Tour, New Old Time Chautauqua | 2 Comments