A Peripatetic Adventure Into the Unknown Set for Summer 2017

by Percival Perkins, reporting from Port Costa, California

During July & August 2017, the Peripatetic Players will perform Shakespeare or Space Wars, described by the troupe’s lead songbird-whisperer, Princess Gwen, as “an homage to two classic star-crossed tales of destiny and daring.” I caught up with the Players during a recent respite from their grueling rehearsal schedule in Port Costa, California, where they are the resident travelling theatre troupe.

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A Peripatetic Performance in Port Costa, California. File photo.

My first curiosity was about the name of the show, particularly its lone and ambiguous preposition: “or.” Princess Gwen explained that she coined the title herself when the Players were unable to agree on their next production, allowing the Players some extra time to iron out the details. The Players are currently deciding between realizing the long-held dream of Samuel Peaches, their troupe’s leader, to perform Mercutio’s famous “Queen Mab” speech; and conceding to the urge of their Properties Master, Thumper, to build legions of droids and spaceships.

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Princess Gwen takes a break from the Second Annual Samuel Peaches Peripatetic Players Particularly Obstinate Obstacle Course. Photo by Sell Fee.

Impresario and head artiste Samuel Peaches says that he has long yearned to perform the works of William Shakespeare, whom Mr. Peaches describes as “the greatest dramatist in the English language–performing his works is the pinnacle of any actor’s career, and after years of preparation, we are finally ready.”

In past years the troupe has performed O Best Beloved, an adaptation of several of Rudyard Kipling’s Just-So Stories, and Aesop Amuck, a mashup of more than a dozen of the classic fables.

“It is time we turned our attention to the literary greats,” Mr. Peaches explained, contemplating a plastic skull he had recently extracted from an antique trunk full of stage props. “While Hamlet is really the role of my dreams, I have not yet found actors able to create the properly dour atmosphere of Elsinore. So instead I will direct this troupe in our own inimitable version of Romeo and Juliet. In adapting this great story to our actors’ abilities, we have of course updated most of the language and generally butchered the play to leave only the most basic plot points,” he sighed.

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Mr. Peaches gestures for someone else to do something to set up FluxWagon, the Peripatetic Players’ mobile stage. Photo by Madame Directrix.

When asked about the “Space Wars” angle, Thumper, an actor and the troupe’s Properties Master, eagerly interrupted Mr. Peaches. “Actually, the greatest story of all time is the original space opera trilogy created by Mr. George Lucas. We will perform the original original part of the original trilogy outdoors on our mobile stage with original props that I have created especially for this original production.” Thumper paused to inhale and Mr. Peaches sighed again. 

Thumper continued: “Samuel. Did you know you can do a lot in the way of space props with buckets and trash cans?!” Mr. Peaches was unavailable for comment on the props, as he was called away to autograph a copy of his recently-published tome on the art of acting.

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Thumper models a costume prototype. Photo by Madame Directrix.

Widely substantiated rumors indicate that indecisiveness amongst the troupe during the summer of 2016 resulted in a frantic attempt to perform the two classics at once. When pressed on the subject of past Shakespeare or Space Wars performances, one of the actors, Meekins, shuddered and let out a piercing but unintelligible cry of terror. Guy Hank, actor and troupe mechanic, first calmed Meekins down, then turned to me to explain the remount. “We’ve put in a lot of rehearsal for this show, or these shows. Both shows. All the shows. So it will be great to really put something out there again this year.” He paused, seemingly lost in a momentary thought, then added, “however it happens.”

“The audience should understand that we ourselves do not entirely know how this is going to play out,” commented Princess Gwen.

Ready or not, Shakespeare or Space Wars will tour July 8 – August 13 to Bay Area parks and public spaces. Tour venues will be announced on the sleekly-designed and thoroughly futuristic Peripatetic Players website.

Particularly Obstinate Obstacles Obtained!

P. O. Obstacle #3: Thumper and friends Percival (aka Soren) & Rapscallion (aka Ross) hurdle a swamp, or swim a river, or all of the above.

We lucked out with a bunch of sunshine for Sunday’s Particularly Obstinate Obstacle Course — THANK YOU all who came out in person or virtually to offer your cheers of support!

As expected, it was relatively ridiculous…

 

Awesomepants (aka Kristen) momentarily trails Princess Gwen in a leap through the ring of fire held bravely by Mr Peaches himself in P. O. Obstacle #12.

 

P. O. Obstacle #5: Awesomepants, Princess G, and a Masked Meekins expertly executing some improvised choreography.

And in the BEST NEWS, we’ve raised over $500 in the 24 hours immediately following the event! Which is fantastic — because we have only until May 1 to meet our goal!

Do you know someone who would like to help bring FREE performances to parks & public spaces around the Bay Area? Please share this link: https://go.rallyup.com/sppp-a-thon2017

In P. O. Obstacle #7, Thumper bravely takes on the role of Rebel Scum as “Storm Troupers” take terrible aim. It’s hard to see in those helmets!

We’ll receive the funds of all pledges no matter how much we raise, but hitting our goal will go a long way toward ensuring that we can bring Shakespeare or Space Wars to Bay Area parks, offering FREE performances for neighbors of all ages.

Explore the website for more about the show — and coming soon: tour dates and locations!

You can also sign up for our mailing list to be in the know about upcoming shows.

Awesome photos in this update from the wonderful Tim Guydish, a Peripatetic Patron who works wonders with his cameras!

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P. O. Obstacle #8: Tea with Mdme. D, in which obstaclers hold forth on artistic matters whilst maintaining impeccable manners.

Kicking Off 2017!

It always feels like coming home when the Peripatetic Players get together — albeit a wacky, loud, hilarious home.

Last evening we gathered to plan our 2017 Obstacle-A-Thon, our annual fundraiser for our summer tour. This year’s Obstacle-A-Thon will be held on Sunday, April 23rd at 3:00pm at Mosswood Park in Oakland. Please stop on by to witness our silliness and help us raise money for our tour!

Some of this years obstacles will include:

  • Something with Meekins?
  • Finding Your Way To Mantua
  • Skarkline (a 2016 favorite)
  • Shakespearean Soliloquies and Sonnets with Samuel Peaches!
    • Want a teaser? Here you go:PROMPT:  Perform as the clueless Friar from Romeo and Juliet, apologizing to the emotional Lady Capulet about Juliet’s suicide.

And many, many more that I cannot reveal to you!

So join us! Don your most eccentric costumes (or borrow one of ours), pull out all the stops, face your least-known fears and join us for the Thon to out-thon all Thons! THIS Thon is (kinda like last year’s Thon but still really like) no Thon you’ve ever Thonned before.

Love,

Marlene, Princess Gwen, and Jay Robinson

Join the Peripatetic Players for FluxFest ’16!

The Peripatetic Players present a Port Costa FluxFest!
Saturday and Sunday, September 24-25

The Peripatetic Players’ final stop on their 2016 tour will be Port Costa, where the Players are traveling-troupe-in-residence (though they’re rarely spotted in town).

The Players’ performance of Shakespeare or Space Wars at 2pm on Saturday, at Port Costa School House will feature delicious picnic fare available for sale from the Bull Valley Roadhouse — so save some room in your picnic bellies! And that’s not all… the performance kicks off a weekend-long festivity of music, comedy and clowning. The festivities continue thusly:

7-10pm Saturday 9/24:
Fluxxie Cabaret – music next to the Bull Valley RoadhouseCome and go as you wish and your dinner reservations allow!

10am-noon Sunday 9/25:
Flux Brunch – chill morning music and performance next to the Bull Valley Roadhouse
Come and go as you wish and your needs for caffeine and brunch dictate!

2pm Sunday 9/25:
FluxWagon Variety Show – comedy, clowning and music for all ages, in a variety-show format aboard FluxWagon at the Port Costa School House.
Bring a chair or blanket – this is the highlight of the weekend! Clowning from Slater Penny and Danielle Gray, music from Carl & Beatrice and The Port Costa Darlings, and more — hosted by your favorite Peripatetic Players, with eats available from the Bull Valley Roadhouse.

Have you not yet visited Port Costa? Now is your chance!

Be sure to refresh yourself at the Bull Valley Roadhouse or The Warehouse, delight your whimsy at Wendy Addison’s Theatre of Dreams, or stay all night at the Burlington Hotel — and soak up some casual summertime performance in picturesque Port Costa.

No reservations required; donations for performers accepted — that’s how they get paid!

Click here for the full lineup of FluxFest festivities.

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The Peripatetic Players first presented Romeo & Juliet in Port Costa in November, 2015

Shakespeare or Space Wars is open! Just three performances left…

Opening day of Shakespeare or Space Wars happened this past Saturday at the Berkeley Marina on a glorious sunny day; and Sunday we visited our friend The Yak (a bronze sculpture by Joseph Anthony McDonnell) at Centennial Park, Pleasanton.

Here’s a trailer made by Dave Coyne, an audience member at the Berkeley show. We think he captured the zeitgeist of the show very well. Thanks, Dave!

You’ve got three more chances to see it:

Saturday 9/17 @ 2pm, in Santa Clara
Sunday 9/18 @ 2pm, at Dimond Park in Oakland
Saturday 9/24 @ 2pm, in Port Costa

Here’s a link to the full schedule.

And don’t forget — in Port Costa not only will there be yummy picnic fare available for sale from the Bull Valley Roadhouse, but we’re also kicking off FluxFest 2016, with music and special clown guests performing all weekend. We’ll have music outdoors near the Bull Valley Roadhouse so you can drop by before or after delicious dinner on Saturday or their phenomenal brunch on Sunday; and comedy, music and clown performances Sunday at 2pm on FluxWagon at the Port Costa School House, hosted by the Port Costa Conservation Society. Here’s a link to the FluxFest lineup.

And that’s not all! We’re pretty chuffed because Sam Hurwitt of the East Bay Times says: “Whether your destination is fair Verona or the fearsome Death Moon, you couldn’t ask for a more diverting rest stop than the Peripatetic Players’ folding FluxWagon stage in a park not far away.”

We hope to see you at the show!

Influences & Inspirations Part Deux

Shakespeare or Space Wars opens in less than a week! As the Players put the finishing touches on props, costumes and scenery… and even our script… we want to share an inspiration that has had a big influence on those essential elements of the play: Little Monster’s Mother Goose by Mercer Mayer. It’s a children’s book that features monster-creatures putting on a play — not unlike the Players!

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Little Monster’s Mother Goose was published in 1979, meaning it was just in time for Madame D’s childhood bedtime reading list. And it must have had an impact… Little Monster must be convinced to put on a play, and how the play happens — including what happens in the audience — is more interesting than the nursery rhymes themselves.

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In fact, it’s almost impossible to read this book in any sort of linear or methodical fashion — visual and word puns are scattered about, and the pleasure in reading it is seeking them out and finding something you hadn’t seen before.

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What’s more, none of the characters can let an opportunity for a comment, question, or delicious opportunity to lap up spilled milk pass them by.

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The audience is having a great time, too — even if they’re not behaving “properly.” 🙂

We hope you’ll be part of our audience for Shakespeare or Space Wars September 10-24!

 

Influences & Inspirations!

We of the Peripatetic Players are influenced by a great many groundbreaking works of art and legendary theatrical ensembles, which inform both our process and our craft. One of the most seminal of these is surely The Muppets — and for Shakespeare and Space Wars, no Muppet episode is more resonant with our own creation than “Pigs in Space with Luke Skywalker”

I particularly love Piggy’s classic handling of the inappropriate comments about her weight — it’s clear she’s had to develop an iron-fist style of management to keep the show on track. Perhaps Mr. Peaches could learn a few things.

But that’s not all… the stars of Star Wars appear in the entire Muppet Show episode, number 17 from Season 4 of the show, and perform a spectacular dance number at the end.

And, many years and one corporate purchase later, Muppets cast as Star Wars characters to create mashed-up action figures have striking similarities to the casting of Peripatetic Players as both Muppets and Star Wars personalities. Gonzo as Darth Vader? Beaker as C3PO? Obviously.  And make special note of the Storm Troopers…

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Disney’s Muppet Star Wars action figures

We have our own ideas as to which Peripatetic Players correspond to various Muppets… some of them are definitely reflected above.

Which Muppets do you think most accurately reflect Peripatetic Players?

Thumper has been lobbying the Players to determine how they’d cast themselves in Thumper’s adaptation of Star Wars, named Space Wars. You’ll have to see the show to find out who’s who!

Shakespeare or Space Wars opens Sept 10, 2pm at the Berkeley Marina! 

SPPP SorSW Photo Shoot!

Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek at today’s Peripatetic photo shoot!

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Guy and Thumper setting up the scrolling backdrop

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Musical interlude

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Guy is solving a problem

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Meekins at work on a likeness of his idol and mentor, Samuel Peaches

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Princess Gwen!

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The dashing Mr Peaches

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Mr Meekins

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Ready to tackle SHAKESPEARE!!

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Shakespeare vs. Space Wars photobomb

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Space Wars vs. Shakespeare photobomb

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Costume pieces

Mom’s Are Great

Let me preface this by saying that having a mom who sews and crafts is amazing.

Let me also preface this by saying that having a mom who is creative is amazing … and dangerous.

Now, let’s blog!

Every year for a Peripatetic Players show, I like to help make our costumes. In O Best Beloved, I made Elly the Elephant’s Tutu, and in Aesop Amuck! I made the Fox hat and tail. This year, I am undertaking the task to make a costume that reflect not only Juliet, but also a certain space princess. Here are two pieces of art that are inspiring me:

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Princess Leia drawing by Cryssycheung, via etsy.

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Juliet costume sketch by Carlo Poggioli and Swavorski.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How would Princess Gwen wear a costume that says both of these characters at the same time? Well, this is where Mom comes in!

My mother is a great seamstress and makeup artist, and has a large stock of old costumes, fabrics, and other goodies. I remembered a box of fabric that I had set aside on a visit that I thought would be good for SPPP, and I asked my mom to send it to me. The box was finally delivered yesterday, and lo and behold… a confetti bomb!

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She got me, and she got me good. Thanks, Mom!

Next up — picking out all of the confetti and starting to sew!