“‘I therefore invite you all,’” Mr. Fox went on, ‘to stay with me here for ever.’ ‘For ever!’ they cried. ‘My goodness! How marvelous!’ And Rabbit said to Mrs. Rabbit, ‘My dear, just think! We’re never going to be shot again in our lives!’” – Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox
Jen Julia has overseen productions featuring Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, Charlie Brown and dozens more fantastical characters as artistic director of the Young People’s Theater, but perhaps none as wily or subversive as the clever Mr. Fox. He’s a creation of Roald Dahl (Matilda, James and the Giant Peach), whose work seems well suited to Julia, who entitled her production of the Princess who falls under the slumbering spell of a spiteful fairy Sleeping Beauty, Sort Of.
Mr. Fox is Julia’s 46th full-length musical production. The story, about a bold, tenacious fox who helps his family and friends – a gang of badgers, rabbits, moles and mice – to outwit a trio of greedy farmers has been made into a movie, directed by Wes Anderson, an opera, performed in London and Los Angeles, and a play, adapted for the stage by David Wood. All three forms of Fox were widely praised, and Julia had numerous artistic creations to be inspired by – but this rendition is hers alone. She wrote her own script, adapted from the book, and collaborated with YPT’s Music Director Bob Israel to set the story to song. “So much of Dahl’s writing consists of silly rhyming and wordplay,” she said. “It was really fun to create a script and song out of such a lively story, with such vibrant characters.” A cast of 25 children in grades 3, 4 and 5 will perform Mr. Fox at the Sheridan Opera House this Friday through Sunday, May 2-4, at 6 p.m. each evening. To inspire younger members of the audience to immerse themselves as fully in the Roald Dahl spirit as the director has, the Sheridan is encouraging all kids to come dressed as animals for the three shows. Children who show up in “fun animal face makeup or animal accessories (tails, ears, etc.)” will receive a free small-sized serving of popcorn. On Saturday night, they can even compete in a costume parade on stage for a grand prize.
The real prize, though, is from Julia herself. Season after season, her work is, as a New York Times reviewer put it of Dahl’s books, “full of unruly energy and wanton invention.”
Poetry in Ridgway and Telluride
Just 125 libraries and humanities councils in the U.S. received an American Library Association/National Endowment grant to present Muslim Journeys, and the Wilkinson was one of them. The program has been ongoing for several months at the library; the final selection (which you are welcome to not only pick up from the library and read, but keep) is In An Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler’s Tale by Amitav Ghosh.
Before that, however, there will be a three-part series offered by local poet Rosemerry Trommer on the Sufi poets Hafiz, Rabia and Rumi, beguilingly titled Where Poetry Meets the Divine: Three Sufi Poets and the State of Your Life. The workshops take place over three consecutive Thursdays, May 1-May 15, and meet at 6 p.m.; the final workshop will also feature Middle Eastern food and music. Like everything at the Wilkinson, the workshops and the meal are free of charge and open to the public. Trommer chose this verse by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi as introduction, and welcome, to her series.
Come, Come Whoever You Are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.
Trommer and poet Art Goodtimes host the Open Gourd Poetry Series at Arroyo, where next Tuesday’s guest will be Tish Roo from the Navajo Nation. She reads at 6 p.m.
Finally, if you are in Ridgway tonight, swing by the final installation of the Open Bard Poetry Series featuring poet Aaron Abeyta at the Sherbino. Kierstin Bridger, the irrepressible co-founder of Open Bard, maintains the series’ website on Facebook (“We’ll start at 6:30 on the dot!” she writes. “Come early to get a seat and a drink!! It will be crowded!!). Bridger also curates Ridgway’s Poetry in the Alleys, increasingly filled with works by local and visiting writers. In one final tribute to National Poetry month, which ended just yesterday, here is a work of hers for the season, first published in Mason’s Road Literary Journal.
Eggs, Garlic, Yam
The papery skin of garlic, the cloves that look like plump buds
of bittersweet-bite sink between my fingers, just air.
When I open the rest of the head I find the center
urgent with green curl, the flesh turned soft as rubber.
The yam I micro-waved for four minutes is full of fibers
the purple eyes abandoned in the disposal. I can’t take another bite.
When is the moment winter store turns from food to new life?
All week I’ve been rescuing provisions. I cut off the tomato’s bruises,
place what remains into the blender, pulverize the fruit until it is as pink
as raw meat. I set it on simmer, forgot it for an hour, almost entirely.
if not for the hiss of gas, the piquant tang in the air, you wouldn’t be eating
the now red sauce by slotted spoon, or spilling it on the burner.
You wouldn’t notice the sweet kitchen scent turn to smoke,
the way I turned to go upstairs still hungry, still silent.
Yesterday shells and egg bits lay in waste on the floor.
You admitted to leaving the carton precariously pitched in the door.
Lunch had to wait for me to scoop yolks in my bare fist
and toss them into the trash. I remind you of this not because
we are all going to die but because we transform, love. I can’t keep feeding you
when it is so clearly spring. My car is idling in the drive.
It’s time to start a new garden, my pajamas no longer wish to sleep in the drawer.