November 2006
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Performance art, poetry and unsustainability

By Art Goodtimes

RUTH ZAPORAH LIVE IN SANTA FE … Action Theater is the name of the book that Ruth wrote (ZAP Performance Projects, P.O. Box 23002, Santa Fe, NM 87502, Tel: 505 988 2676, zap@actiontheater.com). And she is the living example of its best practice -- actress, mime, dancer, poet and performance artist who incorporates bodies of work and theory into a gripping existential one-act, transmuting each separate discipline into a dazzling improvisational whole … I’d met Ruth several months ago through Santa Fe artist friend Ana MacArthur, who rents a bungalow from her. As a fellow Bay Area émigré who’s brought her performance skills to the Southwest, she intrigued me. And after visiting in her riverside rancho, I committed to coming down for her show at the Center for Contemporary Art in the City of Holy Faith mid-September … It turned out her performance was even more stunning than I imagined — high art, low art, captivating, culturally postmodern and downright entertaining .… More than mere shtick, it’s a lifelong passion, this combining of theatrical genres and Ruth’s trained a corps of action-theater devotees, who use many of the techniques in her book to infuse the unscripted moment with power, meaning and humor. Using pathos. Deep image. Tropes. Hers is a quantum performance with as many points of light as the observer is willing to isolate … And Action Theater has become a movement. Ruth teaches students all over the world as well as at her dance yurt on the banks of the Rio de Santa Fe … Here’s what some other folks have said about her … “Ruth Zaporah is a movement artist who has internalized a kinetic vocabulary to such an extent that she can listen to it and follow it wherever it takes her at any moment.” — Rita Felciano, SF Bay Guardian … “Zaporah is a woman of many voices and many guises. The charming entertainer can metamorphose into the schizophrenic in subtle and surprising ways ... Whether she's engaging in rancid dialogues or telling stories, whether she's being loud and tough, or feeling put upon, we know her for a woman under siege...” — Deborah Jowitt, Voice … “Watching Ruth Zaporah in one of her performance pieces is like an exercise in surreal meditation ... With the power of a gifted actress, she gives the words and phrases and tales she tells a symphonic scope, stretching them to elusive purpose ... ” — Marilyn Tucker, SF Chronicle … For more info, check out her website: www.actiontheater.com.

THE TALKING GOURD

Our Best Behavior

We do not kill children
(intentionally)
or torture and rape their mothers.
We do not loot
after destroying a family’s home.
If offered a bribe
we report it.
When humanitarian aid drops from the sky
we give the old people a chance
to drag it away.
Holidays are observed
and holy days tolerated.
If a child picks a flower
from a field of rubble
we snap a photo
and send it to Washington.
Rules of engagement
prohibit bombing cemeteries
while the enemy’s funeral is in progress.

David Feela
Cortez

POETRY & SOME HISTORY … Del Norte hosted its second Festival of the Imagination last month. It was ironic for any Tellurider to visit Del Norte. Back when the San Juans were still (technically) off-limits to non-Indians, and even after the San Juan Cession when Chief Ouray gave up a big chunk of the Utes’ “Shining Mountains” to keep the peace (and got his homestead acreage outside Montrose -- today’s Ute Museum), Del Norte was the last wagon-supply point before the trail up Stony Pass to Baker’s Diggin’s (Silverton) and the Ophir/San Miguel/Rico mining camps. Most of the earliest families that homesteaded San Miguel Park outfitted in Del Norte … But fellow poet and EAR-mate Elle Metrick and I weren’t looking to get outfitted. We were searching for poetry. And we found it. In spades. In the four venues organizer Stewart Warren used to pull off a weekend of performances (Gary “Mex” Glazner of Santa Fe got a standing ovation for his hilarious Saturday Night show), open mikes (there were several), writing workshops to get stuck writers juiced up, and lots of drums and dancing at the Wildwood Sounds Equinox Party plus shared stories at the Poet’s Bunkhouse potluck party … Carnero Creek Kate opened her house to Elle (two nights) and me (one night), as well as the ubiquitous poetry organizer Dale Harris of Albuquerque, who edits the litmag Central Avenue, and Big Nurse Ingrid, who works front lines in a New Mexico psych ward and turns Ken Kesey on his head by dishing out as much love as pills and charming her patients with music she plays on flutes she makes herself … Lots of our statewide poetry community came – a Denver contingent with the dean of open mikes Seth and his Human Earth Groove Band, the incomparable Kit Muldoon, yogi/poet Roseanna Frechette, photographer/ poet Kit Hedman and a New Mexico contingent with Debbi Brody, Gary Brewer and Therese Bisceglia. And lots of wonderful others.

ECOLOGICAL OVERDRAFT … Humanity slid into the red last month [Oct. 9th] and began racking up an ecological overdraft driven by unsustainable exploitation of the world's resources, according to a report by the sustainable development organization Global Footprint Network (as reported in London’s Guardian). In little more than nine months, humans have used up all that nature can replenish in one year, and for the rest of 2006 are destined to eat into the planet's ecological capital, the study claims … The Network calculated the day the global economy started to operate on an ecological deficit by comparing world demand for resources with the rate at which ecosystems can replenish them. The study drew on surveys from bodies such as the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization … Humanity went into global ecological debt in 1987, when the year's resources were spent by Dec. 19. Since then, the date has leapt forward year by year to Nov. 21 by 1995 and Oct. 11 last year. The trend reveals the alarming effect of unsustainable lifestyles which are increasingly using up world reserves … The study suggests that nations and communities like ours need to change our lifestyles and reduce our consumption of water, energy and natural resources, as well as our waste streams, to move towards a sustainable world future … “Humanity is living off its ecological credit card,” said Mathis Wackernagel of the Global Footprint Network. As you’d expect, the worst offenders are developed countries: for North Americans the “ecological footprint” — the land and water a person needs to sustain their lifestyle — is 23.7 acres. For the typical African it is 3.5 acres … If every country lived frugally, only half the planet's resources would be needed to meet demand. But if the world adopted a U.S. lifestyle, four extra planets would be needed.

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.


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