Sunday, July 06, 2008

4th of July

I've never been in America on Independence Day before. The fireworks over Lake Tahoe, complete with orchestral accompaniment from the Reno Philharmonic, were certainly spectacular! But our afternoon's rehearsal was more so.... I had at last managed to bring a member of the Washo nation, Art George, into the rehearsal room. Art is quite a prominent activist among his people, and we've had a number of conversations about how this production can help heal rifts between them and the other communities here. We showed him our closing scene, the smudging ceremony; and then he told us why it mattered so much to him. For 150 years, Art said, the Washo have been dispossessed of their ancestral lands. Now, they believe that the time has come for their return - not removing the other people who live there today, but as custodians and guardians who care for the beauty and eco-system of this environment. He spoke of spiritual signs that this time was coming. And he thanked us that our work was welcoming and open to the Washo. I looked around the room, and could see that the actors' eyes were filling up. It's not often that our work receives this sort of validation.

The Dream is going to end with another Epilogue, beyond that of Puck and Shakespeare. Art comes onto the stage, bringing his shell and his sage. As the cast move out into the auditorium, he lights the sage from the fire. And then, as Kelvin's flute resonates through the space, he says a prayer in the Washo language, blessing the place, the land, the lake, and the people. He tells me that this will be the first time that these words have been spoken on this sacred land for 150 years.

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