Acting Like Adults

The Adventures of Leigh Hooks in Children's Theatre

The Road to Sturgis

And we’re back! Dakota Players hits the road again starting Sunday Jan. 8th for the 14wk Spring tour! out first stop will be far into West River Territory: Sturgis. That’s right. The infamous home of The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Home of the rowdy Bike Week and tattoos that people get and then immediately regret. However, in January, I doubt that any of the kids are going to break bottles over their heads to ZZ Top.

I’m excited to go back on tour and continue to discover the people and places of of South Dakota. And especially to Sturgis in the off-season to see what it’s like as a town. I suspect it’s something like Las Vegas when you get off The Strip, minus the angry off duty hospitality staff. Perhaps just another small town? Perhaps the answers to all my questions? I guess I’ll have to find out.

Where we last left off, I had mentioned I received a new touring partner: Kevin. Well this past week, I’ve been training with Kevin to try and him acquainted to the company operates and how we conduct our business. I was really afraid to meet him. I kept thinking: “What if I don’t like him?”, “What if he doesn’t like me?”. With an looming 5 month tour coming up I didn’t want to be stuck with someone who I couldn’t stand. Communication and toleration is particularly important when you spend a majority of your time in close quarters to other with a person. To my great relief, Kevin and I get along great. We had Chinese food at The Golden Bowl in Soux Falls after training today. It was great to get to know him more before we have to make awkward conversation on the 7 hour drive to Sturgis. Now we can at least make intersting conversation on the way. Kevin has a musical theatre degree and plays guitar which, of course, means we’re going to have a tour band. His nickname is “K-Train” and my name is Leigh.

Possible Band Names:

K-Train and L-Wagon

Leigh’s Caboose and K-K-Klack

Buffo-lumps

August Earlywine

Hooks Grips Kevin

Kev and the Electric Leigh

High Plains Scooner

Betty White and Her Cohorts or Betty White and Her Traveling Men

Eccentric and on the Prarie

Deb, Seriously, That didn’t Happen

Which one will we choose? (To explain a couple: Deb is one of our Managers and Betty is the name of our touring van, a white van.) Find out in the next installment and leave your vote in the commentary box!

Until then:

With Love,

All the Best,

Leigh

Here Ends the Journey…

Our residency at Wanbli was the last of the fall tour. And with the last stop comes the last time I will work with Jacinta. I have been issued a new partner for the spring tour. His name is Kevin. That’s all I really know. Jacinta has been my only companion, captive audience for my music and a friend for nearly four months. I wish her well on her future travels and adventures in the world. I hope that Kevin is ready.  I hope he knows what he’s getting himself into. I hope I do to…

 

To finish out Wanbli and Kadoka…what can I say? The kids, in many ways, were better behaved and more agreeable then those at Wakpala. They were a handful-and-a-half but, they showed a side of themselves that I’m not sure anyone has seen. When they would let go and would allow themselves to enjoy what they were doing, they lit up! Absolutely phenomenal things would happen. One of my pirates, Carlos, would fight tooth and nail about doing anything: walking, breathing, not being a pain in the ass. However, when Carlos would forget about being a jerk: he had fun! He really got into being a pirate maybe like a quarter of the time, but he was damn funny for that quarter. He’d lose himself in wat he was doing, and do it, then realize what had happened and bury his face in his hands as if to say: “What have I done?!” And the play. These kids could could play and laugh better then the rest. Much more engaged and active in what they were doing and so much laughter. Sometimes at the wrong times, but always laughing and smiling. I really hope we gave them something that they can use everyday. Something inside themselves that they can hold onto and build. Something that they can believe in with the knowledge that they do matter and can change their lives if they want to.

Working on the Rez is always terribly enlightening and scary. It’s a whole world in isolation. Unknown, unrealized. I could on and on about social issues and government infringement and Tribal Rights and so on…But, the fact of the matter is that these people are there, with lives and dreams and hopes and nobody on the outside cares to look. Or listen. How do we live? How do we survive? How do we continue after the wars change from battlefields to courtrooms? Is there an answer or only more questions?

And for Kadoka, that weird little Interstate town, I leave this:

Off the Rumble Strip

By: Leighland Hooks

Out where the electric lights don’t reach. Past where the gravel runs out though the fields and into the cold. Into the Badlands where Custer was slain and Red Cloud still walks the hills, ghastly and proud. Coyotes and loafers howl mourning’s to the dripping moon. No vultures or buffalo hide in this night, just the haunting wind. Ice cold and sharp, dry like bad wine to a drunk. Familiar and comfortable as it numbs the hands and face. These blankets for cow puncher and farmers knowing the frost all too well. Too many livestock found wearing the mask of winter. Too many fingers and toes lost to it. Death drifts those places between dream circles and ravens. Where words those their meaning with so many inflections of peace, of life. This place where we are dying without living. Not here where the lights can’t reach and the barb wire has rusted through. Not here in the Badlands. Not here in the murderous quiet. Not here. No. Where bones whisper and crack. Where the only the prairie dogs will listen as they tunnel through the graves. Here where the electric lights will never reach.

 

Dec. 5th, 2011

 

Thanks for reading these past few months. The posts will keep coming just as soon as they can.

 

Best,

Leigh Hooks

In the Land of Red Cloud

Chief Red Cloud

(Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakota)

Well here we are this week in Wanblee, South Dakota. In Lakota “Wanbli” means Eagle, a symbol of strength, intelligence and freedom. Wanblee is located on the Pine Ridge reservation 28 miles south and west of Interstate I-90 through Kadoka. At a glance, Kadoka is a strange place. Old motels and motor inns litter the place like obscene memorials to the Eisenhower Interstate System. As I have found out, Kadoka is famed as a town of horse thieves and run away criminals. In the cowboy days, gangs would rob banks in Rapid City and flee to Kadoka for shelter. It seems all too fitting as a scene from “The Twilight Zone” where you can meet yourself on a street corner.

However, for what Kadoka lacks in comfy home feelings it makes up in pristine Black Hills beauty. From my room at The Dakota Inn, I can see for miles and miles without interruption. All the way to the lights of Rapid City, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and the back of my own head.  As you drive out of Kadoka to the south, only 4 miles out of town the hills begin to rise. Ancient river beds and glacial drifts spire out of the plains topped with stringy pines. and I wonder how people lived here on the high plains desert. For there is nothing. Not even birds. No eagles or hawks or sparrows or crows. Nothing. Silence. Except for the ever-present Dakota wind. Now with winter creeping in it only brings ice and hostility. No more friendly tumble weeds and little bugs.

As you pass the rise into the reservation a sign reads: You are Now Entering “The Land of Red Cloud” (One of the most predominate and well-known figures in all of the Lakota Tribes. He is supposedly buried on the Pine Ridge Reservation akin to Sitting Bull being buried on Standing Rock. A whole other debacle.) The school in Wanblee is called Crazy Horse High with its team the “Chiefs”. Although both Red Cloud and Crazy Horse are members of the Oglala Tribe, I find it a bit funny that the school is not named for Red Cloud. Crazy Horse was a BAMF warrior but had little tact. I suppose it’s similar to why we have memorials to generals and not teachers in mainstream white society. Red Cloud was also a warrior but also served his people as they were being forced to reservations.

Crazy Horse educates children mostly of the Oglala Tribe but also of those who live near or on the Rez. I knew this going in and hoped this experience would not be as trying as Wakpala. So far, being two days in, it’s going pretty well. The kids of both places have similar traits: they both hate authority, have a hard time with loosely structured time and love to spin. Not like kids at other school that randomize their twirls. But together (seemingly secretly organized) and always counter clock-wise. They loll their heads back to look at the ceiling and spin to the left. Not one person I have asked can tell me why. I could deduce it away and say that kids do weird things. But it’s not that. It’s a part of their being and has more importance. I may never really know. I tried it a few times and just got dizzy.

I like how the kids laugh here. A vast majority of them are missing their front teeth, so it makes it that much better. And they love falling down. Some slide others tumble but always fall. They are loud though, tell you what, they love to yell. I wish I could create a collection array that would harvest all their scattered energy so I could redirect it into something productive though. They lack focus. But I like them anyway.

Something else I’ve notices between Wanblee and Wakpala is the school staff. The administrators are all well educated federally trained white people while the teachers and support staff vary in tribal members. Even way out here Uncle Sam still has a firm grip on things which resonates through what the kids learn from the federal level and the tribal level. Most Rez schools have Native Culture programs that educate the youth on their own people. These classes are tough my tribal members and tribal scholars who have dedicated their lives to continuing the language and stories of their people into the modern age. Now, the secondary students must learn to speak and write Lakota. Which is great but, they must also learn Spanish or French as a federal language requirement. It makes sense to me that being bi-lingual in a Native language would qualify as a credit and knowing how much of the high school Spanish i learned and never needed or used, Lakota would be more than fitting. Especially when living on the Rez and being able to communicate in your own language. More to come on that topic later.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned.

Bonus Features:

Red Cloud became Chief in 1868 2 years after the Dawes Act of 1866 (which enabled white settlers and industry to harvest resources from tribal land) and continued to help his people until his death in 1909. Red Cloud partook in The Battle of The Little Big Horn, The Sioux Wars and several other engagements.

The Natural History Preservation Act of 1966 also inhibited Native land rights and sparked the Fish Wars of Northern California.

“Sioux” means “snake in the grass” and was only used by enemies of the Lakota. Note that the most populous cith in South Dakota is Sioux Falls which is located in “The Sioux Empire” and is 1 1/2 hours form Sioux City, Iowa.

Beatitudes

The Beat of Hoven
By: Leighland Hooks

The time of harvest marks one of two very busy times in the agricultural year. The first, naturally, is planting and maintaining the crops until harvest. After which, field rotations and those at fallow share the burden of use and disuse. Throughout the growing season, fields must be sprayed, trimmed, weeded and kept alive through storms, floods and pests. But, harvest is where heroes are made and generational skills are tested.

Harvest is usually a period of joy mixed with danger. It seems to be cyclical of the canning and selling of the summer’s labour and the loss of fingers and toes. Accidents do happen reaping and sowing grain. Fire remains a very real threat to farming communities. As combines turn lazy circles, collecting and chewing stalks, it is not uncommon for over worked machines to spark or clip a rock thus bringing excitement and life to the dry fields. This is the case in Hoven, where in one week, two fire broke out only a few hundred yards from main street. The tumble weeds and southern gales held the flames like a lover, keeping the embers nurtured through dark times until they were strong enough to carry on by themselves.

The open plains around Hoven are home to whole herds of tumbleweeds. Growing up in central Minnesota, we never got to see them. I thought they just existed in movies until I saw real ones in Rapid City. Now surrounded by a nest, I find endless joy watching them spar with the wind. Jac just looks at them as a common sight, she’s seen many of them from her previous year on the road with CTCSD. I see them as something like hamster wheels. Carrying seeds and little insects where ever they go. Stopping just long enough to say hello and observe you then kindly move on (as prompted by the wind). The skeletal sage also marks a time of sleep. Once green and alive, these bones roam the prairies as warnings for the harsh Dakota winter to come. A time to move on.

The thing about Hoven is that it’s called “The Cathedral on the Prairie”. At first glance, I could only imagine it was some strange farmer metaphor about serenity and salvation. But, as we came over the hill on highway 14, sure enough, two gothic spires rose from the flatlands.

“Oh, cathedral on the prairie.” I stupidly say
“What did you expect?” Inquires Jac
I tell her my ideas
“I guess that makes sense too. Why would you think that first?”
“Would you expect a gothic structure just to rise out from the fields?”
“Well, no. But, there is a huge grain co-op here.”
“Yeah, like a pilgrimage to Mecca only it’s Pioneers and cow-pinchers to Hoven.”

And I could see them. Thousands of gaunt souls and livestock dragging across the high plains desert like plows to the Oasis and promise of Hoven. And to this day, droves of hunters flock to Hoven to hunt pheasant. Not only the state bird but also, also the source of the states most predominate income ($25 million annually). With that, the four-horseman ride all along the range to cut down creatures for sport: deer, puma, bison, fish, the sick, the elderly but pheasant, the most popular.

This holy city inhabits about ninety people but draws others for miles around to store grain and to hold mass. A dense collective of the faithful joining bodies and spirits. The communion of life in the human experience wrapped the isolation of the plains. Drowned out by the sound of threshing machines and trucks. Barely tactile, ever slipping away and returning as tides that leaves pools with life teaming just below the surface. Just below…

The children of Hoven are excitable. They meet us with sideways glances and cautious eyes. We must look strange to them, laughing and being generally over excited for a children’s show. Also, we’re from Sioux Falls. The most populace city in the state. To the kids, Sioux Falls might be the same as Italy. A far away rumored place that only exists in textbooks. The two places (Hoven and Sioux Falls) are not that far apart, but just far enough over the horizon to be worlds different. (There are many noted differences between those who live in Sioux Falls and those who do not. Some slickers think they’re shit don’t stink and any farmer knows the smell.)

The grown-ups, busy with the season, are pleased to have us here:

“We had Missoula last year so we thought we’d try a local company that’s cheaper and better.” Says Ladeen, head of the Hoven PTA.

Being the outstanding businessperson I am, I say:
“Yeah cheaper. But better is up to you guys.”

Ladeen, Jac and I share awkward laughter. I was never a good sales man.

We’re staying at the Weber’s hunting lodge, the “Hilton of Hoven”. High ceilings, video games, booze and plenty pictures of dead things. Jac and I create a nightly ritual of drinking vodka tonics and sometimes playing pool.

“We’re livin’ the high-life Jac. Now we just need a shuffle board court to complete it.” I say over my drink suited for people in their eighties. Eventually we start playing Wii sword fighting with hordes of virtual combatants. I use this opportunity to hone my Jedi skills. The dark side prevailed at level six. The Force is not strong in this one. Average at best.

In the mornings, I watch the dust and tumbleweeds in the seasonal winds. Now seemingly stronger without the crops to buffer me from the gales. One morning, a small tumbleweed stopped in of the kitchen window, rocked against the wind just long enough to take a look and ask how I was doing. I didn’t answer which the little guy must have taken sharply because rolled right on into his day. Given that I had to start mine.

The week needs to be filled, the kids need more rehearsal and the characters need developing. Ben, who is playing one of the cousins, decides to make his character into a nerd. Of his own accord, he produces black glasses complete with jock tape. Jac and I find this hilarious and ask him to say common phrases as his nerd. It is a voice so nasally and coupled with the underwhelming sounds of a science textbook, we couldn’t stop laughing. I get him to say:

“I says to the guy: Ukulele? More like Urkle.”
I may have peed a bit.

The performances go pretty well. For the community and extended community of Hoven, we gave them a good one.

Earlier that day, I took the time for a short trip to the cathedral. Built in the late thirties, after some sort of disaster, the sanctuary doubles as a local historian. Every event of the town’s history, from marriages and funeral to celebration and honorary ceremonies have been and are still held here. The cathedral is the centerpiece and slick sinew that holds this place together. It is a house of St. Anthony, the patron saint of miracles. Quite fitting for the rigors of farm life. I ask St. Anthony for a light and ten bucks. The statue, complete with a friar’s horseshoe, only smiles back gently as if to say:

“No you asshole. Get a job.”

I chuckle, salute the saint and push through the fortified heavy oak doors. The door, with surprising quiet, closes and clicks behind me. I realize I’m alone here. Only the old marquee style lights fitted to the arches hum with company. I walk around the edge of the pews being careful not to disturb the bulletproof silence. Saints and apostles cover the walls displaying their tales of love and fear faithfully in pretty glass and marble railings. I fell as if I should say a prayer at the altar. None came to mind.

I take my leave down the broad concrete steps at the entrance, and there inscribed in pink granite stand “The Beatitudes of Matthew”. One reads:

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

After the show, the teachers and parents invite Jac and myself to go “Uptown” (which really means going up the street to the liquor store which is also a bar). We are met with cheers and applause! Jac laughs in slight embarrassment and I do a bow. It feels good to have our presence welcomed but strange travelers make temporary celebrities.

Nonetheless, drinks are bought for both of us. The women sit at a table and talk in polite tones whilst the men stand at the bar, boisterous and happy. The men welcome me with toothy farmer smiles and caliced hands. I feel inadequate, I’ve always hand soft hands and been skinny. Literally half the person of the average plowboy. My advantage has always come with a charming smile and soft tone not brute force. However, in this case there are all to excited to tell me about themselves! Where they have been, what they want to do, business ideas and most importantly: where they want to be.

All the while, beers are being bought with frightening frequency. Parents of appreciative children, people who saw the show, people who know people that saw the show all seemingly plotted together to line the bar with drinks for me. I try to refuse the third round:

“Guys I really appreciate the beer but, I need to take it easy tonight.”

“Oh really? I think there’s a spare seat at the ladies table.”

The ninth round gurgles down to meet its friends. I know all to well the fate of drinking too many cheap beers. The mornings are payback: Hell hath no fury like Miller Lite. But it doesn’t matter now or will it the next day or ever. I am laughing with them, sharing with them, forgetting the past and blurring the future. A piece of advice floats my way:

“When I was your age I was so concerned with getting married and having kids. Now I have those things and two grocery stores and the only thing I want to do is leave here. I wish I had spent more time traveling. You’re doing it right. Never stop and drink up young man.”

With a cheers the tenth round begins and the night spins on.

26, Oct. 2011

Wakpala Continued

With all the challenges and issues that plagued our time in Wakpala some really amazing things happened:

The importance of laughter: Working with kids has taught me so much about how to laugh. Kids are constantly laughing and giggling over small things or nothing at all. Laughing just to laugh. One of my favorites examples was in Rosholt. Two of my green pirates, Kadie and Shelby, spent at least 20 min. naming vegetables and laughing hysterically.

“Shelby…Shelby! Carrot! Hahahaha”

Wrought with laughter, the two could only be reduced to little puddles.

In Wakpala, the kids laughed mostly at each other and pain. However, I did find the universal vessel of farting. One of our students, Mya, was constantly getting into trouble (or the “T-Word” as Jac says) and taking our attention away from the group. Before our show, we were all getting into costume and she was lying on the floor, as dramatically as possible in the death throws of a Victorian melodrama.

“What’s up dude?”

“I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. I hate this.”

I lightly put the toe of my shoe on her stomach and made fart noises as I pressed down. Poor Mya was back in the land of the living with a big smile.

pfffff, phrfffff, pbbbbbbrrrrp, erp?

“Hahaha you’re weird hahaha” She’s missing her left front tooth.

Living in an environment of constant laughter is only infectious. Being able to be in a state where laughter is always possible is a gift. It makes the days and horrid moments so much easier to deal with. With the kids, it even makes problems disappear thru the simple means of a joke or a look or playing dumb. It even work with the parents:

White Lake:
“How is Tyler doing?”

“He’s great. Attentive. Loves hoagies.”

“Hahahaha sure does.”

That’s just the truth. The kid was hoagie love sick.

Over lunch:
“Hey Tyler having a hoagie for lunch again?”

“Yeah. I love hoagies. My dad makes them for me every morning. It has two cheeses and three kinds of meat. Mayo and spice.”

“Would you say that this is the one hoagie to find them. the one hoagie to bind them in the darkness?”

“Yeah. It’s pretty filling.”

I nearly peed I was laughing so hard. Tyler is 11 and was our Assistant Director for our Residency in White Lake, SD.

In my life off the road, I have tried to find as much laughter as possible. When I left Dell’Arte, I had little humor or laughter left. As if it was drained from me like blood letting. Nothing was funny or funny enough to laugh at (a bi-product of my training). The kids have taught me how to laugh again. How to bring light and joy to not only my life but those around me very easily. It’s funny how light something can be when you’ve felt so heavy for too long. Hahahahaha

Also, Jac and I did a phone interview in Wakpala to promote the show on the local tribal radio. After which, I learned of a whole news network: National Native News (current native news and issues like: Crazy Horse, The UN Human Rights Committee). South Dakota is also home to the Lakota Nation which is, unfortunately, famed for The Pine Ridge Reservation (the economically poorest patch in the entirety of these United States). Pine Ridge is not someplace you vacation. I’ll post a few links at the bottom here but also in the links menu:

National Native News Homepage: Headline Archive for current native issues
http://www.nativenews.net/

NNN Internet Radio and News:
http://www.nativeamericacalling.com/

Pine Ridge (Graphic Content):

Lakota Times:
http://www.lakotacountrytimes.com/

Out of Africa

Go to where the dreams are thickest, sleep, let them in.

 

 

Out of Africa in Wakpala
By: Leighland A. Hooks

Something struck me as I looked into the eyes of a girl named Dreamer. She couldn’t talk but she could smile. Wide and deep all the way back to her fillings; which were silver but her eyes were an earthy brown with green specks. The playground is hot. The high plains day, in late summer death throws, grinds the turf to a nice gooey consistency. The kids I’ve been working with suddenly set free move like wild horses. It’s in their blood at Standing Rock.

Earlier in the week they had asked if “I was Lakota” like them. “He’s brown like us!” they giggled. Before I could answer: “No, I’m half-black.” And add the only native word I know (as if to impress them like a high-brow New England merchant who reads too many Louis L’amour books) “Tatanka”. I imagined them looking at me cross-eyed, missing toothed mouths agape, then uproarious laughter: “Buffalo?” So much for watching Dances With Wolves…Luckily, my touring partner stopped me from speaking and moved on with auditions.

Regardless of my obvious deficiency knowledge of the local tongue, the kids talk to me in Lakota. The only translations I received were from passer Byers. “Ze” means no. Strength and age grant authority and middle fingers probably mean “hello”. I take no offense to the, in Minnesota terms, crass treatment or aggression. I am an outsider to them. Worse than a stranger, a white-man educated theatre teacher with nothing they want to know.

What can I bring them? What can I give them that fills their needs? Their wants? As one of my teachers, Ronlin Foreman, said: “For us! For us! The play is for the delight of the audience and the pure joy of the player!” In servitude is the lesson. For them, always.

But what use can a show about imagination and pirates be to these kids? Kids who don’t want pirates and talking dogs. During a rehearsal early in the week, a group of boys were talking:

“What’s this show about? Is it Native?”
“No, it’s a white-man show.”
“Oh.”
They catch me ease dropping.
“Hear the one about the orange?”
“Fruit punch.” Says a boy, Michael
Out classed by eight year olds

I came to realize that day; I have encountered the true west. Not the one in the pages of Sam Sheppard’s domestic violence infused play, but the heartbeat of the Middle-American Plains. And this, the children and descendants, the blood forced to reservations to pool and stagnate. Although, I grew up in central Minnesota amongst farmers and mechanics with rusted pick-ups and horses, my west is fake. It is the west of progression and expensive educations, debt and material. Nothing to do with customs and ancestral traditions.

Back at the hotel, I say goodnight to my touring partner and friend Jacinta (I call her Jac for short):

“’Night Jac. Sleep well dress rehearsal will be tough tomorrow.”
“Yeah. I don’t know how we’ll get them to listen. It’ll be what it will. ‘Night.”

We’re staying at The Grand River Casino Hotel just outside Wakpala. It smells of stale smoke and empty pockets. I feel conflicted staying at a casino. Happy to have a room but uncomfortable in a house of chance. I sleep disheartened.

In the mornings, I liked to watch the wind sweep the prairie grass over my oatmeal and tea. It is beautiful to me. I imagine mustangs running freely across the range, through the wind like blunt knives forcing a cut. Running. Always moving. Away from a home they never had. I never gaze too long. The plains turn into the African Serengeti and I see myself speaking African or Bush, Swahili with the Masai warriors. Carefully hunting gazelle. I look away; I have always looked away, back into my furnished room with my guitar and smart phone. All these things I’ve carried with me: clothes, hats, broken hearts, beer bottoms. For a second I compare myself with Christ. I laugh at my complex, absolve myself and get on with my day.

I made the mistake of wearing my western pearl snap shirt and bandana one day.

“I like your cowboy costume” laugh the kids.
My face begins to match the peach tones of my shirt. Then, in reference to my bandana:

“Are you a crip?”
“What Shaylin?”
“Your blood rag.”

Little did I know that several students had been expelled or suspended for gang related activities the previous week. I had always thought that gangs were for cities like New York or Los Angeles, not small town South Dakota. I considered this as I turn a corner in the school building. My attention turns outward as the commons engulfs me. The after school drum circle is rehearsing. One drum and six players. The singular heartbeat of a people. All at once I am consumed with the memories of growing up bi-racial in rural Minnesota. The passive glances, the marginal tolerance and disgust (which I came to hold against myself). I want to cry. Slump against a wall and sing of my people, the world as my forefathers have told. Of the Ivory Coast and ships. A world I have no connection to anymore…the circle seems grotesque in the shiny new federal school. I turn into the theatre and think about something else:

Dreamer is reaching for my shoulders. So I stoop down to ask what she wants. She takes my arm with, surprising strength, and pulls me to the monkey bars.

“She wants to go across but have to help her up,” says her sister Harmony.

The drive to Wakpala is only seven miles. I use the time to think about my day: What needs to happen? What do I want to happen? And the day’s foreseen challenges. Dress rehearsal promises to be…creative at best. These kids do not agree with silence. Backstage is just another room to be filled. However, this one has canvas walls and nobody wants to hear about who kicked whom.

Out the window are the dissolute plains of cowboys and cattle. The range spans for miles in its way. Nothing to claim the wind, nothing to chain men’s hearts but barb wire and abandoned ranch homes. The early sun sets fire to the Missouri as molten gold drifts to the grasses. The wind blows north in little concussive bursts signaling the tides to pass into winter. Into isolation, frozen as ever ready for the spring to come.

I close my eyes. Perhaps my answer is in there amongst the dark and motion of the van. Hidden here in spaces and unfurnished rooms I’ve given myself. I drift. What can I find?

Dreamer falling into my hands and wrapping her arms around my neck. She laughs and squeals

“You might be able to do this on your own one day” I tell her. She only gallops off to start again. Expecting me to help her.

Stop.

“You ready?” asks Jac
“Yeah. Lets go.”

In servitude is the lesson. For me. Always.

Oct. 5th, 2011

P.s. As I later came to find, “Ze” is a derogatory term for no. Wakpala was our second residency during the fall tour and a tough one.

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