Here are a few selections from Hungry Ghost Theater: A Novel. These pieces first appeared in print or online in slightly different forms.
Invisible Theater (Scoundrel Time)
Not long after the Loma Prieta earthquake, our collective decided to stage an Invisible Theater performance in the atrium restaurant of a grand hotel in San Francisco’s Financial District. When Eva and I walked in, she nodded to our brother Robert, who was sitting forward in his seat several tables away and lit up with pre-show adrenalin. He pretended not to see us. Eva, who’d never been at one of our disruptions, gave an annoyed shrug. I tried to avoid exchanging looks with the Electric Disciples scattered throughout the room, nursing cups of soup or the cheapest possible drinks. Not all of us were performing tonight, but we were there to support each other in case we were needed.
Stage Fright (Valparaiso Fiction Review)
Julia splurged on a bucket-shop, round-the-world ticket, a month of travel between leaving San Francisco and landing in New York to start rehearsals. She’d be spending everything she had on the trip, with just enough left to get a cheap place to live in New York. Her older brother Robert was furious with her, first of all for leaving their own company, but also, apparently, on behalf of the honor of experimental dance-theater in general. He said, “You have some idea that doing Shaw in New York will make you a real actress. You’re a real actress here, even if it’s not all talk-talk-talk. But fine, go for a year. You’re going to hate all that artifice and clawing for position. Just let me know when you’re ready to come home.”
But her new home was out in the world, a bigger life on bigger stages. She promised herself not to call anyone until she was settled in New York, to live in the world without having to describe it to her family or cannibalize it for theater. It was enough just to look. In Fukuoka, all the gardens had shrines: Buddhas, exact arrangements of bamboo and water. In Tokyo at night, extravagant palace rooftops reflected the neon lights of the big hotels. Bangkok’s mosaics and gold statues, like light shining off the water, said this is what matters.
News of the World (Ploughshares)
We were the News-of-the-World Theater Collective, moving from city to city together; we were all married to each other and to the idea of what you could pull from the streams of the news that ran over and around and through our lives. We wanted no one to let that information splash over them without thinking, so much unnoticed linguistic and conceptual sewage. Selene and I were with the company for six years – in the Tenderloin, in various U.S. cities during the year when we were touring by bus, and then back home in San Francisco, where it all broke apart for us.
We’d begun working with the news by accident. Our first performance that meant anything to us, before we even had a name, took place in the living room of the tiny apartment shared by our co-directors, Robert and Julia. We’d rolled up their futons and set up chairs all around the perimeter of the room: we had an audience of about thirty-five, almost all of whom were friends or friends of friends.