"When I was a graduate student at the
"We met at the old Mill Restaurant on
"As he talked he drew a diagram of the action on a piece of cardstock with a red magic marker (it’s the only souvenir I have of his visit). I didn’t know what to make of it. I was totally unequipped to imagine how we would get the resources to realize his vision. We were supposed to do this in the ballroom at the student union, and I remember thinking maybe we could do something with projections or flat architectural drawings of trees on plastic drop cloths. But flying benches and palm trees that grow, and a house that get tall and burns and sinks into the ground? How could it happen?
"But Bob had jobs for me the next day and I began doing whatever he asked. The first item of business was to build interest in the big project through an event at the
"Bob assured me we would have plenty of help when the ‘Byrds’ (associates of his from
"And the Byrds did migrate to us, strangely ordinary people with peculiar gifts and a singular focus to make Bob’s work materialize.
"Rehearsals at the River City Free Trade Zone (a defunct hippy emporium that was a predecessor to the Hall Mall) consisted of long sessions of open dancing to Dylan and Melanie. We watched an hour-long film of nude and clothed people moving in slow motion on dunes covered with beach grass, and learned to do their simple seven part movements. Nobody knew what they would be doing in the eventual production. Cast and crew, everyone danced. In rehearsals, everyone seemed like a walk-on and nobody was being asked to display their skills, just themselves. This disturbed people who were defined by their skills.
"The event at the museum was a ‘happening’. Abstract, constructivist, post-modern and avant-garde, you name it. A flutist played endless looping melodies. The floor of the basement gallery was covered with straw and a man in a hat and a raccoon coat leaned into a wire stretched across the room, to the accompaniment of Alley Cats, a novelty pop song. Upstairs groups of people in wheat colored clothes grazed the galleries like sheep on their hands and knees. Others made haystacks and danced. A 70-year old woman did stretching movements on a cherry picker in the sculpture court. Dead fish dusted in yellow powder with red strings in their mouths were displayed on the Elliot Silver Collection. And on a white sheet on the lawn outside, well out of earshot, an angry actress performed Medea.
"All in all it was a success de scandal, and shortly thereafter resources started opening up for the big production. The theater reluctantly offered its main stage and costumer, and on and on, piece by piece the production began to materialize.
"As the liaison between Bill Hibbard the director of the CNPA and Wilson, I was pushed and pulled in two directions but my loyalties were won over by the vision. I clearly remember crossing that line, when on more than one occasion I signed requisitions without explicit approval from Bill for things that Bob said were essential to the production. In the end, everyone agreed Deafman Glance was a magical event that changed several lives forever. And one month later, skipping graduation ceremonies, I ran away to the Big Apple to catch up with the circus."
-- Mel Andringa, producing director, CSPS/Legion Arts, Cedar Rapids
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