I think it was a good experiment, and I am working on refining the content of what I had presented in the theater.
Additionally, I've been putting my nose back in the books to research more material and history, background in the areas of the history of IV, the history of shadow puppets, relational aesthetics, etc. Maybe I'll post up my notes sometime in the future.
Anyway, recounting my experience from the launch, my students and I did a dry run of the show.
I ended up performing until 1am and moved my theater a couple of times in the span of one block to try out different locations. My student helpers were either tired or wanted to participate in the IV Halloween festivities along Del Playa. I also promised their time, so after our 9:30pm dry-run I was on my own, but Kim Yasuda was with me and she was a great help in talking to some of the business owners around the block, and helping document me in action.
I learned from this experience that being next to the sidewalk was hard competition for my show against the show of students in their Halloween costumes. My best performance was when I re-posted myself back at the Bagel Cafe. I was squished right next to the store front bordering Little Acorn Park. But it was past midnight and there was a long line of students going outside the cafe. While several costumed students sat out on the patio and ate their bagels, they tuned in to my show. To me that counts, and I think one of my best options while testing this experiment is working with the local food businesses that allow outdoor seating areas for people to take the time to sit, eat, and simmer down their alcohol blood levels.
Another highlight included one of the homeless figures "Pirate" who walked along and stopped right next to me and my projector. He seemed taken back with the graphic image of him, and reminisced about his old hat. See the quick youtube clip down below.
My theater and I turned out untarnished. It didn't get trashed or lit on fire and though a couple of walking wanderers stopped by to talk to me during my performances, I was left unharmed. A group of undercover cops had nabbed someone behind my theater while I was posted next to the parking lot behind Hempwise and "worked" behind me for a little while. That was slightly awkward, but they seemed nice to me and asked me questions about my project.
I still believe that there is a place for the mobile shadow theater, and think the story needs to shift away from what it was presented. Since it's on wheels, I can move it to a different location and showcase what Isla Vista was and is to the varying audience of student residents, marginalized families, and the committed folks that have lived in IV for a long while.
Thanks to those that came out on that Friday to see me at work, to my student crew that helped tremendously with me, Michael Schmitt for his "golden hands," IV Arts and the Friday Academy for their support, and thanks to all of the grads for their feedback at my crit.
Pirate: "That is wild!"