So tomorrow I get on the Alaska Marine Highway (the state ferry) and set off for three full months of exploration into European puppetry and beyond. I must say, obviously, I’m quite exhilarated to be sailing off into the dark night of the Alaska fjords to seek out that peculiar European essence again. Of course I am also thinking about the shape of Europe 2016 as well. I will be in Paris on Wednesday, I will also be in London, Edinburgh, Berlin, Zurich and Prague. I’m sure that this current moment will be spilling out into the streets, into conversations, into the general mood.
And then there will be joy at seeing many friends both within and without the world of puppetry. Some going back to 1978 when I first visited Europe. And then there will be that world of puppetry itself, always surprising, surprising in a way other artistic demimondes never can be. And, of course, there will simply be the unexpected. That’s one thing that travel is excellent at providing. It takes you away from the usual signposts in a life that can seem all encompassing and it shows you that there are things, ideas, places, events, faces, that you’ve never considered before. And all of the internet research in the world can’t prepare you for what you will encounter.
And there will be bad days. And there will be discomforts, even sicknesses. And there will be incomprehension. And there will recalcitrant locals. And there will be missed connections. And there will be weird accommodations. And there might even be the occasional cause for fear. Though I must say to my rather sheepish American compatriots, who have expressed concerns for my safety because of a few isolated recent news stories, your chances of dying violently are far greater than mine if you just stay home and drive your car to work than if you were to follow me around Europe.
But then there are the memories that are inexplicably marvelous: Walking the trails from Huémoz to Villars in 1978 and ever since. Developing an addiction to a strange pork fat spread found in a Czech supermarket in 2012. Getting lost in Poznan, Poland, in 2005. Accidentally walking into the Old Town Square in Prague on a December night in 2000. Having my mind blown by the possibilities of puppetry the first time I visited Charleville-Meziérès in 2005. Seeing a strange performance on the steps of Sacré-Cœur in Paris in 1987, then realizing years later that what I had been seeing was a puppet show. Being driven around by my loquacious French friends in Poitiers in 1993. Sharing a horse steak with my friends in a chalet in Switzerland in 2005. And on and on. It’s amazing what comes back and when.
I can also say that those are not the only emotions I’ll be bringing with me. Since my mother died in mid 2015 I have seen the need for an intermission in my life to commence the next phase. I had promised myself that after she passed I would do something radically new. That new thing would be to visit the country (not the state) of Georgia (which they call Sakartvelo and spell საქართველო ). My reasons for being attracted to this country are numerous. Fortunately they are still in Europe, by their own say so, and they have a few very interesting puppet theatres. But essentially this aspect of my journey is purposefully to explore terra incognita, to open a new door.
January 18 to19 – Ferry from Haines to Juneau
January 19 – Juneau to Seattle
January 19 to 20 – Seattle to London to Paris
January 20 to 24 – Paris, France (Guignol, etc)
January 24 to 27 – London, England (The Quays)
January 27 to February 1 – Edinburgh, Scotland
February 1 to 4 – Paris area
February 4 to 7 – Brussels, Belgium (Toone Marionette Theatre & Theatre du Peruchet)
February 7 to 10 – Northern France (still waiting on ESNAM)
February 10 to 13 – Lyon, France (Guignol, etc.)
February 13 to March 6 – Huémoz, Switzerland (L’Abri)
March 6 to 9 – Zurich, Switzerland
March 9 to 11 – Berlin, Germany (Die Schaubude)
March 11 to 21 – Prague, Czech Republic Buchty a loutky, Loutkář, Spejbl & Hurvinek, etc)
Mar 21 to 23 – Plzeň, Czech republic (More Puppets)
March 24 to April 15 – Tbilisi, Georgia (Puppets, music & Dance)
April 15 to 19 – Paris, France (Guignol, etc)
April 19 – Paris to London to Seattle
April 19 – Seattle to Juneau
April 19 -21 – Juneau, Alaska
April 21 – Ferry from Juneau to Haines
This is my itinerary as much as is stable right now. In my next update I will reveal more about these plans. At the moment there is still so much to do before I leave: Prepare for lectures in Switzerland, turn off the water and clean up the house, etc. etc. But once I step on that ferry there is only the journey, What’s left undone is left undone. Like life, like death. Follow me on this trip. (Click above you to the right.) It is sure to be a curious thing.
And thanks to all of you who have encouraged me in so many ways.
PS. You may notice the yellow donate button above this somewhere on the right. If you donate through Paypal I can transfer it while I travel. All I can say is that unexpected expenses will (already have) come up and I am certainly not traveling first class. Anything would be appreciated. Thanks.