Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spider the Pumpkins

That's an actual item from my "to-do" list for today. I'm living the good life! Yes, it's the annual Halloween program time again, this year with a vaguely EC Comics kind of theme. I was scrutinizing my set-up, and decided I wanted to move the body bag back so it would be more visible ... but I figured I'd better wait until the political rally in the next room is over with. I'm sure the uniformed cop standing guard outside their door has already noticed that I'm strewing the room with pumpkins and skeletons, but still, why tempt fate?

When I'm setting up for the program, at some point every year, I think for a minute what it would be like if I had a better room than this big modern box of a meeting room. If I had a proper stage, real lighting equipment, or just something with a little more atmosphere to it. But on the other hand, there is something special about the no-frills space, and the fact that the program takes place somewhere that usually has such mundane functions. It's here in the library, where people go for all kinds of things, not in a theater or somewhere that's set apart. There's a more intimate quality to it, which I think helps connect the readers and the audience. And it keeps the focus more on the stories themselves, as stories. Right now, I have to keep things intimate and low-key, because there's only so much I can do to disguise the room. But more lighting and staging and effects might detract from what makes it so special.

I actually got interviewed in the local paper about the reading, which is not exactly in my comfort zone. I always sound a little like an old-school Val ("it's like, kind of, you know, sort of, and stuff"), but that's what happens in conversation! So I'm going to write up what I meant to say, in a slightly more articulate form.

Why I love Halloween: because there are things in the world that are frightening, or disturbing, or just plain strange and mysterious. Sooner or later, all of us will have to face loss and death. Halloween is a time when people, individually and communally, acknowledge this. It comes out in the open, and instead of becoming scared or depressed by it, people use their imagination and creativity to transform it into something meaningful. The incredible creativity people put into costumes and decorations and stories, all dealing with things they normally pretend don't exist, gives me hope for humanity ... which, I realize, is kind of funny when they're dressing up as zombies and slasher-movie characters.

So here's wishing you and yours a Happy Halloween!