With summer approaching, it seems appropriate to celebrate a beach based event, the World Premiere presentation of Basil Twist’s Seafoam Sleepwalk. This took place last October, as part of La Jolla Playhouse’s inaugural WoW (Without Walls) Festival, a 4 day theatrical festival, celebrating and presenting many innovative performances in non-traditional venues, in and around the UCSD campus. Performances took place in parked cars, elevators, lawns and even down at La Jolla Shores Beach, with Seafoam Sleepwalk presented 4 times on 2 consecutive afternoons. Basil has collaborated on several occasions with La Jolla Playhouse, adapting a form of Japanese screen puppetry for Dogugaeshi and conceiving the giant robot and the flying robots for Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. I later realized my sister and I also saw another of Basil’s projects, Un Tramway Nommé Desir, in Paris a few years before (2011). This French language production of the Tennesse William’s classic A Streetcar Named Desire was the first production in 400 years by the Comedie Française of the work of a non-European playwright. It had been completely sold out for well before our arrival, so we joined the queue for the 5 Euro rush tickets and saw it from the nosebleed section. A few days before, we bought an English language version and switched off reading it, me finishing it while in the line for the last minute tickets.
We had an opportunity to meet Basil before we actually saw the show, thanks to our friends Susan and Richard. They hosted a nice cocktail party at their place in La Jolla, where Basil performed an intimate pas de deux with one of his first puppets, just as the sun was setting. Magic!
We had heard from friends that the audience would be 40-50 feet from the surf, so we came armed, so to speak, with lawn chairs and the big rigs, including an 80-400 mm lens.
We had the sand equivalent of front row seats, where music master Yumiko Tanaka held court.
A golden-haired Aphrodite-like figure emerged from the sea, heralded by cupids aloft and joyous acolytes (and a rare surfer beyond).
As the music heated up, the performers advanced, Avengers-style, and a family-friendly striptease ensued. Limbs and wetsuits flew!
A struggle broke out between two paddle-armed assailants.
We were sufficiently distracted by the flying sand, paddle-clashing and rising music, that we didn’t notice the transformation taking place in Aphrodite!
One minute, Yumiko was performing on the beach, the next (gulp!), she was engulfed in the toothy mouth of the green sea creature formerly known as Aphrodite!
Such fun, one of the best times I’ve ever had at the beach and a wonderful alternative to a traditional theater!