City Creature on the Cascades

I made a dress for Julie out of paper Bay Area maps. Using some of my City Creature ideas and snippets of free write texts that Hatchlings did in response to City Creature prompts and provocations, Julie and I improvised a short solo piece that led the audience up the Joaquin Miller Park Cascades. Julie is a fantastic improviser, and the Cascades were an amazing stage — dry because of the drought, they formed a slate pathway up the hillside from a murky pool a little ways above the more formal fountain, all the way to the impressive New Deal amphitheatre at the top of the hill.

Gorgeous photos by Melina Meza and Heather Mann; plain old photos by me.

Here’s a basic reconstruction of the script:

Stage One: Home: The Pool

[Julie fishes in the pool with a stick, lifting dripping clumps of grass, inspecting them, and fishing again. She inspects three clumps, but doesn’t find what she’s looking for. She refers to her map dress, and then her surroundings.]

There’s density.

There’s the soda tax.

There’s a law called sit/lie.

There’s a way to make a living, and a way to spend it.

So my blade of grass should be… right… here… [she fishes again]. But it’s not.

I don’t even recognize this place anymore.

Fine. Actually, that’s fine. It’s time for a new stage in my life anyway!

[She moves away from the pool and up the hill to the rocks, continuing her litany as she goes.]

Stage Two: A New Life: The Rocks

I need a change! I need something new! Like this. This looks great. This looks really perfect for me. I’ve been looking for a place just like this!

Here’s a coffee shop [she points to a rock].

And here’s a trendy new noodle shop called Slurp, which I think is hilarious! [She points to another rock.]

[She looks for other points of interest on her dress, most of which are in unseeable places on her back or her butt.]

Density is over there [points back down the hill to density], a little further than walking distance, but I need the exercise!

This is perfect!

[She starts to sit on a rock. It’s not comfortable so she gets up immediately.]

This is great. Very comfortable.

[She tries another, but slides off.]

Yeah, this is perfect.

[On a third she gets tangled in her dress.]

You know what? I’m really forcing this. I don’t like it here at all! This is not what I’m looking for.

[She storms off and up the Cascades, climbing the dry slate waterfall like a rock climber.]

Stage Three: Turtle: The Waterfall

And you know what else I’m forcing? This whole idea of home.

[She keeps climbing, occasionally stopping to make a particularly emphatic point.]

I have everything I need right here! Inside of me!

I carry my home on my back!

I am a turtle!

And I am independent! I am an independent woman.

I am the kind of person who can go to a restaurant by herself, and not feel alone!

[She has reached the top of the Cascades and pauses to look around. She looks out past where she’s come from, and to each side. She refers to her dress, and the landscape. Then she sees the audience.]

Oh! Hello! Excuse me…

[She comes over to them and stands on a big rock above them.]

Do you know where I am?

Do you know where you are? Where we are?

[Maybe there’s an answer.]

Well where is that?

[Perhaps an answer]

Where is that?

[Another answer]

But where is that?

[And another]

What does that even mean?

[She scowls. Disappointed.]

Well, thank you very much for your help, you’ve really been quite helpful. Really.

[She goes off, searching, across the Cascades this time, looking in new directions.]

[End.]

Julie Katz - photo by Heather
Julie Katz – photo by Heather Mann

The above is, of course, the work of myself and Julie Katz. Photos are property of the respective photographers. Please enjoy, and contact us if you are interested in using any of the above in any way. Grazie.

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