Sunday June 5 2011
It's a long way from Owyhee.
2500 miles. From 55* F to 95*F. From the boonies to the big city. From light to dark. Northwest to Deep South. From riding in the great outdoors to sitting in a small cramped space. From the rhythm of hoofbeats in the desert to the rhythm of voices in the theatre.
It's time for the Gospel at Colonus! This week I shed my riding skin and morph into a sound engineer for the black gospel musical version of Sophocles' tragedy, Oedipus at Colonus, in Charleston, South Carolina for the Spoleto Festival.
We last resurrected the show in August of 2010 in St Paul, Minnesota, and Edinburgh, Scotland (see my archives if you want a fix, or in the search box bottom right, type "Gospel at Colonus") - and here we are in sultry Charleston, gearing up for another revival.
The Spoleto Festival USA is "one of the world's major performing arts festivals," founded in 1977 by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who sought to establish a counterpart to the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy. The annual 17-day event showcases both estalished and emerging artists in more than 120 performances of opera, dance, theatre, classical music, and jazz.
I can't sing for beans, but I can listen well and I get to mix the sound for some terrific singers: the Steele family from Minneapolis, the Soul Stirrers from Chicago, the (5-time Grammy winning) Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Royal Missionary Baptist Church choir from Charleston, and a host of other talented singers and actors and actresses, all together on stage in this show that started in 1975. I joined the show as sound mixer in 1995 in Seattle and have been with it, over the years, in far-flung places like Sao Paulo, Moscow, Athens, Minneapolis, St Paul, Tuscon, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Harlem, Scotland. (Me? Did I really get to do that?!)
Tech and rehearsals start Monday morning; first show is Wednesday night; last show is Sunday. Wednesday night after opening there is a party in our honor. "Please bring festive cocktail attire." I don't know what 'festive cocktail attire' is, but I'm quite sure I don't have it. I wonder if my leopard spotted riding tights might do?