Saturday, June 02, 2007

Lost, Found and Widening Queer Circles

Through a typically random referral, JunkThief came the show Lost and Found in the Mission put on by Mama Calizo's Voice Factory at the Jon Sims Center for Performing Arts and had the pleasure of going to see it this evening.

The co-artistic directors Rowena Richie and Susie Hara seem grounded in the belief that the best search engines are our eyes, feet and hands, and they have mounted a revue of sorts built around found objects discovered in various corners of the Mission District. These range from shopping lists, to letters, to post its, to notes passed in jail, to a single black high heel shoe intended for a male Cindarella. Most of the objects are words written on paper, and aside from a few songs, the bulk of the show is made up of verbatim stagings of these words from anonymous authors. The source materials were on display outside of the performance space, serving as a trailer of sorts for the show before the doors opened.

JunkThief had not been to a production at Jon Sims Center since friend/fellow writer/blogger "Bryce Digdug" of JudyMeat did queer stand up comedy there last fall. At the time, word was out that the center was going into its swan song, but JunkThief was pleased to learn tonight that it is alive and well and embracing the broadest term of "queer theater" which this production healthily embodies with a wide representation of ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and ages.

As a production, it sometimes was better in execution than concept, and it's not clear if there was ultimate meaning to the intentionally random pieces coming together. But then, isn't that life in this city, and there were moments of brilliance. The cast was great overall, but Carole Landes was especially strong in various roles, most notably reading the letter from some unknown grandmother in Florida writing at the age of 75 in 1989. Her embodiment of this woman who is likely no longer among the living was a real highlight of the offering. It really felt we were being offered some little overlooked gem held up a lost treasure that is just outside of our grasp. Having known a few women who spoke in such cadences, it was touching to hear her bring such dignity to a woman whose words were abandoned somewhere in the 94110 zip code.

Needless to say, for a blogger with the JunkThief moniker, the show resonated frequently, in part because of its striving to bring either meaning or rhythm out of the chaos of our lives, neighborhood and city. It runs through June 9.

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At 8:37 PM, Blogger Boathouse & Co. Performance said...

Hello Junkthief,
It’s Rowena Richie, Boathouse & Co. co-director, co-writer, choreographer, composer—

Thank you for your comment on our blog,, and the review on yours. I so appreciate you sharing your experience, and the way you’ve written with a lot of heart.

Tell me more about this typically random referral which got you to the show?

I have a couple questions about your remarks. What do you mean by “sometimes better in execution than in concept?” Can you give an example?

You say “it is not clear if it is intended to have ultimate meaning.” To me that suggests the ultimate meaning is not clear. I agree. I think we need to pull out the narrator’s personal story sooner, what do you think?

It is cool that you grooved on Carole. She is a totally dedicated, dear lady and has been a joy to work with.

Any other thoughts? One more question. Does junkthief mean you steal junk?

Take care,

At 9:36 PM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

Hello Rowena,

Thanks for your message, and I hope my reflections on your show were useful and taken with the positive intent that I offered them.

To answer your questions:

1) I'm honestly not positive how I ended up on your site. I frequently do searches for key words that seem to have some commonality with my own site and interests. Perhaps it was "the Mission" or "found objects" or even "junk." The concept of the show seemed to reflect a lot of what drove me to do my own blog.

2) As far as the execution vs. the concept being stronger. That probably wasn't stated as well as I would have liked, and it's really not a negative. I was entertained and engaged every second of the show. But sometimes there was so much happening so fast in barely an hour that I wanted some things to be drawn out more. I think that's why Carole's piece stuck with me since it was one character taking longer to flesh out a story.

3) I guess I did walk away not absolutely clear what all of these things meant. That doesn't bother me, and I think I like a show that raises more questions than answers. I walked away asking: Are our lives and individual dramas sometimes just scraps of paper left behind for others to figure out what they're all about? Is there synchronicity to all of this randomness? Is the chaos something that we should just have a laugh about now and then and embrace the meaninglessness of it all? Perhaps I wanted the "librarian" to explain things a bit more to me. I walked away feeling that we only had a few glimpses into the mysteries of others lives, and, of course, as found objects we can only guess what their intent is.

4) As far as my JunkThief moniker -- that perhaps falls into the "better in execution than concept" category itself. I don't steal junk, and I probably need to add a disclaimer that I do not engage in or advocate for copyright infringement, theft in general or outright stealing of junk. JunkThief is a rather obscure historical reference to how "junk thieves" were treated in the wake of the 1906 earthquake. They were forced to wear huge signs stating their crimes not unlike the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

It's referenced here in these two posts:

What Is JunkThief?


JunkThieves - The Case Continues

The idea of publicly admitting our "crimes" intrigued me, and it was that sensibility that drew me to your show and held my interest.

Again, best luck with the continued run of the show, and I hope it continues to evolve and takes further life in other venues.


At 9:58 AM, Blogger Boathouse & Co. Performance said...

Thank you for the follow up. You are the second person to articulate the effectiveness of dropping into Gram's story for a while amidst the rampant pacing of the "revue" (I like that description). I think with some directorial shifts we could draw out a few more scenes to give the audience a chance to breath and connect.

The questions you walked away with are really intriguing, too. Again I really appreciate you taking the time to reflect. It's enormously helpful.

Thank you for the junk thief posts. I knew there was some correlation between junk thieving and lost and found. A number of people have suggested there could be legal ramifications for what we've done. Whether there are or not, we think it's interesting that so many people are concerned about it.

Blog on.


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