Geoff's Notes

Mon, 24 Jan 2005

We met at ANHC at 9:00, but really didn't get going with reheasal until around 10:00.

I should acquaint you with the story we are presenting. The premise behind the entire collaboration is the connection that developed through trade between the East Coast, Hawai'i and Alaska. The original name for the project was New Tradewinds, emphasizing how those connections evolved during the age of sail. When the idea occured to create a sinle performance piece, whaling was chosen as the theme, the trade which perehaps most clearly traced those links.

So, two years ago, the conceit for our piece was that a whaling crew, including a Yankee, a Wampanoag native from Martha's Vineyard, and a Hawaiian from Maui, had been frozen in the Arctic near Barrow, AK, and were bing helped to survive through the winter by the natives. With different Alaskan representatives, we used that same idea last year. Now, in this third iteration, we are still in Barrow, but the spring thaw has come, a ship is arriving, and we are about to head to our various homes.

One of the primary directives in this project is to reveal aspects of the several cultures represented in the collaboration. For the last two years the emphasis has been upon contrasts in those cultures' relationship to whales as a source of wealth or sustenance or spiritual inspiration. Clearly, "we" Yankees hunted whales for profit. Hawaiians did not hunt the whale at all, but would receive the gift of one washed up on shore as a boon, and used the teeth of Sperm whales for significant symbols associated with the power of tribal chiefs. Meanwhile, coastal Alaskans, particularly the Iñupiac of the far north, have hunted whales for subsitence for as long as can be remembered.

This year, our theme is "going home" and celebration. I did some research and found no reportage about any fuss when Yankee whalers came home, so I figured I'd present the foil to the Wampanoag, Hawaiian and Alaskan native cultures that have seemed so prone to celebration in my two years of exposure, but I may have miscalculated. The contrast is not nealy as dramatic as I had thought. The Wampanoag and Hawaiian stories are more muted than I expected, but I still believe it is important to suggest how those cultures do create celebration more readily than my own.

One result of today's work is that I've realized a different song would work well for one particular moment in the play, so I've called my good friend and mentor Tom Buckner who will e-mail me the lyrics. Ah, the wonders of modern technology.

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