PUTTING TOGETHER MY SHOWS
I usually put all the masks and props and costumes I want to use in show out on the floor, and then form them into some kind of a circle, depending upon color. I trust the colors to tell me something by how I feel when I am wearing or handling them.
I might have a theme for the show, if it’s a certain season, or a holiday is approaching, or maybe a current event, or a political angle I want to address. I’ve also done shows about my dreams, love affairs, or my sister, Patsy.
I like to put on a mask, pick up a prop, and then go into the bathroom and look in the mirror, and see what comes out of my mouth when I look at myself. Lots of times the mask will know just what it wants to say. I’ll make notes. Later, when I’m trying to put together a script, I’ll start with all the ideas or lines that came up while wearing or working with the masks and props. I try to use up all the things with one predominant color before moving on to the next one. Of course, it’s never that clear-cut, but it is where I start.
When I have everything all in a circle that I am happy with, I’ll go around and write a script. Lots of people think that I make up my dialogue as I go along, but it’s all written down. And even though I am constantly changing and adding to it, I do try to learn the script and say what I want to say, at each point along the way. I will have on a mask or a hat and be carrying or wielding a prop, and wearing a costume. I will say something, and then I change into a different hat, mask, prop, or costume. I keep talking all the time, and try to make the visual relate to what I am saying. I try to make sense of the chaos and to surprise the audience as much as I can.
When I pack my show at home, I use about 5 army duffel bags, plus large black plastic bags to carry the props too big for the duffel bags, and then a bag of costumes. I started out doing shows with a lot of found objects, and the more props and costumes the better, the bigger the better. I like the idea of having a mound of props all set up and ready to go, and then whirling through them, and having a big mess at the end, but knowing that I’ve used everything I brought with me, and there was a purpose with each object I used. My work requires that I haul around a lot props and costumes and there have been many times that I wish that I would have chosen to be a monologist.