Village of Yellow Springs, Ohio - Summer 2008
Emily Elliott and I decided several weeks ago to collaborate on a performance art evening for the Village's July "Friday Fling" which would include the HOOZITS.* We soon realized we'd be doing something with tree energy - and before long Emily had lined up three dancers and several brilliantly colored tubes; and I, as is so often the case, had nothing (rather, a knowing that something would turn up in time for the performance).
It was after the rehearsal with the Tree Creatures in their tubes that my "something" was born: a story, The Little Village,** which you can read here.
THE SHOW BEGINS:
Music Al the Xylogator and I take a big picnic basket on our pretend walk in Glen Helen, Yellow Springs' very own wildwood. Unfortunately I have forgotten the food (luckily for Al, Emily has provided snacks which are at the back table in the performance space)......Instead, I find my Magic Hat with Bunnee Rabbhat in it (she, however, has eaten all the cookies I thought up inside the magic of the hat). I also find colored silk scarves which become the sun and trees and flowers; and my Magic Moon & Stars Gloves. Now I'm ready for anything. I pass Al and Bunnee through the audience back to the snack table, where an audience member makes sure they get enough to eat; and then I find a story in the very bottom of the picnic basket, and read/perform it for the audience:
THE LITTLE VILLAGE
Once upon a time there was a happy little village. Its elders were wise enough, everyone worked and got along, and the children grew like flowers in a well-tended garden.
Then one day a shadow fell over the sunny heart of the village, and it was this:
the eerie scary milicorporatocracy which had silently usurped the national government by means of subliminal messages in TV programs, now had nefarious plans to build a new base near the village. It was to be a huge complex, including storage tanks for chemical weapons and a factory for making depleted uranium-coated bullets and tanks and armor, as well as a big military prison complete with a torture training program.
What to do?
The village thinkers thought and thought; the village debaters talked and talked; the village psychologists analyzed and analyzed; the village artists made art about the shadow; and the village businesses tried their best to raise peoples' spirits with sales events. But nobody asked the children to play; and the little ones were all being kept indoors because of their parents' fears. In fact, almost everyone forgot to do anything but worry, especially when the village flowers began to droop and wilt from the sadness of being unable to bring smiles to the hearts of the discouraged and terrified villagers.
Oh, dismay! Oh, mental anguish! Oh, what to do, where to go for help in a corrupt land? What to say, or not say, to whom? Oh, fear of doom!
Then one day, when it seemed the awful shadow would soon extinguish the heart light of the village altogether, a little child had a dream. It wasn't a scary dream, as one might assume it would be, under such circumstances. It wasn't a big important vision, either. It was a very short, sweet little dream about trees.
In the dream the tree spirits appeared to the child in all their exhuberant colors and began to dance.
The child woke from the dream and knew just exactly what to do next. That child ran out of the house and into the wildwood at the edge of the village, to talk to a great old tree. The child could find no words it knew to speak of the dream, however. Instead, a whole new language emerged. A language the trees knew. A language the trees all loved.
As the child spoke these words to the old tree, there was a rustling and a murmuring all around, and a movement of lights and shadows and colors, and it was the tree spirits emerging from their tree trunks, moving in all their glorious colors, dancing, swaying - And the child began to dance with them.
All throughout the wildwood the rustlings and murmurings increased - and then among all the street trees and the yard trees of the village, there was a rustling and murmuring - and then, one by one, all the village children began to come out of their homes. Nothing could stop them - they ran out to be among the dancing tree spirits. Then the winds began, and brought clouds, and the clouds brought rain, with mind-clearing thunderings and lightnings. The tree spirits and children dancing together, merging, became a whirling rainbow of wild free play, sweeping through the village.
Then - all at once - the change.
The ominous odious shadow was no more. That is, the amazing creative love force generated by one child acting on its dream had transformed the village shadow to light. It was a tangible light. A potential. Everyone could feel it. The air was thick with love.
Villagers could no longer shiver in fear and dread because the children and trees and winds and rains and thunder and lightning had transformed the deadly terrifying shadow into a substance of light so alive and inviting that everyone was drawn to play with it.
First the children began to gather the radiance and mold it like clay. Then, one by one, parents and elders joined them. They began to shed their cares, becoming like children again in their hearts, participating in this dream which had come to life. For a while the tree spirits and the villagers merged into a sort of forest, and while they were in free play the villagers could understand the teachings of the trees. The tree spirits gave special teachings to the elders, to pass along to the rest of the villagers over time.
Later in the day when the playing was done and the tree spirits had returned to their trunks, the villagers became quiet and still. After a while someone spoke, saying, "I'm not afraid anymore."
And it was so. All over the village, it was so. In their hearts, each villager understood at last that they were no longer attractive to the milicorporatocracy; they were free from the inside out - having merged in play with the tree spirits, having gained access to tree wisdom, they were now humanitree.
The village elders assumed their rightful place, no longer set aside. They began to speak of a peace council - a council of meditators and dreamers and tree dancers who could keep the door open for more freedom, more treedom.
And word of this event spread from town to town all across the shadow-ridden land.
There were more dreams in more towns and villages. Freedom, transformation of each town's shadow into pure creative love potential - And so the emergence of a nation of humanitree peace councils.
There was no more need for the milicorporatocracy. The whirling rainbow touched the nation, one village at a time, healing and transforming - and the fears of the deep dark inner realms of self which had built the milicorporatocracy in the first place, dissolved.
The courage to act on a dream. The drive to play-out the dream gift and dance in its power. The gift of merging with trees. The growth of peace-dreaming councils. The transformation of a nation. A love force which forgave and included everyone, no matter what.
And all over the nation, more and more trees were planted: and trees grew into stately giants, and there were groves and orchards and wildwoods - and as the trees returned, the waters began to clear, and a whole new way of life began.
The little village stayed little, because that was the right thing to do. Little, but mighty, in its own simple way.
The story finished, I ask Music Al and Bunnee if they've had enough to eat - and then we're off to find out if we can see the Tree spirits dancing, like the ones in the story.
Sure enough, three TreeCreatures in their tubes come out to dance - and what do you know - I happen to have a drum and some flutes and a rattle with me, to help them.
END OF SHOW.
*You can read more about the HOOZITS by following the link to ON WITH THE SHOW!
**As it happens, the already huge military installation, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, does have plans to expand itself near by. A number of towns will be affected. This little story contains elements many people think about but never mention aloud in public, unless they happen to be the peace-and-justice folks who actively protest on the main street of the village every Saturday noon. This little show, in its gentle way, may have opened a dialogue on the subject for more people. The HOOZITS and I are thinking about taking the show to a few other locations, especially after one of our audience members told me he often used to watch street puppeteers in Europe, and wished there were more shows like ours to get awareness of such issues to the general public.