A Long Overdue Recap

John Gustav-Wrathall: Oh, wow. What a perfect way to start the evening. Gustav-Wrathall’s animations captured beautifully the confused and magical logic of dreams. I especially loved the tesselation-like clusters of white-winged and black-winged angels. (Plus any dream with David Duchovny is a good dream. Although I confess that I wish Gillian Anderson had been there too. Mmm, Gillian Anderson.)

Tara Innman: I really, really wish I’d known earlier that she was performing; I completely missed the opportunity to interview her for you guys. This woman is a fantastic writer. She was spell-binding, drawing us into an utterly believable world of a small girl sent away from home for a year.

Witherspoon Trio: I think I can sum up their performance in three words: ridiculously, ridiculously talented. Not only did they completely blow us all away with their first few performances of classical works, but then they played this absolutely amazing piece of their own composition. It was stunning. I’m going to stop typing now before my head explodes with jealousy.

Laura Littleford: Oh my. Hi-freaking-larious. But more–it was just so funny and true and real and beautiful all at the same time, and she tells it so well–one little change of inflection on a word and a seemingly innocuous sentence could have the audience cracking up, or sighing in remembrance of how sweet love can be.

Wendy Brown-Baez:  Cuba and Jerusalem, bursting with life and history and humanity, seemed to erupt into the room. Others, about pain and grief and loss, sunk their hooks into us, touched something deep inside. The energy and empathy of her poems was infectious, and it got us all.

Joan Calof: Watching her recite with zest her hilarious poems and songs, eyes glinting and heels tapping, at one point challenging us to “put up our dukes” and at another leading us in a sing-along, you want to say that she’s the kind of person for whom the word ‘feisty’ was invented–but you hold your tongue, because you have a sneaking suspicion that she might find it offensive, and you might find yourself being eviscerated in scathing verse. 🙂 She had chapbooks for sale, too, so you didn’t have to just rely on memory of her awesomeness.

So, basically, if you didn’t come: Na na na na! You missed an exciting cultural and spiritual experience!

Plus you missed some new snacks. We had biscotti. They were yummiferous. Oh, and those really good granola bars with the nuts and cranberries. And Fiber One, which may not sound appealing to you, but I seriously got addicted to those over the summer. There were others, but those were the best, in my opinion.

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John Gustav-Wrathall

So, in the mother of all last-minute postings, I finally bring you the dirt on John Gustav-Wrathall. Guess what? He likes Star Trek! Okay, so he’s more into the original series than any of the spin-offs I tend to favor, but I refuse to let that spoil my joy. Anyway, he’s an old hand at Patrick’s (he actually used to work here for awhile) and will be premiering “Night Visions” at the upcoming show, a series of animated shorts describing his dreams.

“This is something different. I’ve never done anything like this before,” he said. Previously the most daring thing he did onstage, he says, was a dance/performance piece with his husband. Mostly he just did readings of his work; as a writer his main creative outlet is to publish, but  “I enjoy Patrick’s a lot. I enjoy the spirit there, and every once in awhile I feel inspired to volunteer and do some kind of reading there.”

Gustav-Wrathall has always been fascinated by dreams, and often wrote them down, but it wasn’t until January 2006 that he started writing down everything he could remember about every dream he had. He has recorded over four hundred and fifty dreams. He was frustrated, however, by the limitations of words, and soemtimes added sketches to his journals. He had always loved art, and drew a great deal throughout high school and college. And thus the idea came for the animations. “You can always tell somebody, “Oh, I had this really interesting dream, and you can sort of describe it to people, but it occurred to me that in fact–there are some things that are hard to describe, or the visual aspect of the dream was important enough that I felt like I needed to sort of sketch. So I thought it would be cool to present dreams in a more visual format.”

Dreams are also very important to him because of his faith as a Mormon, though after a crisis of faith in college–struggling with being gay, with the way church history was being taught, with an emerging feminist consciousness–that almost led him to commit suicide, and a vision of God telling him it would be alright if he left Mormonism, he did not identify as such for many years. Then a friend invited him to a conference of Mormon intellectuals.  In the very first session, he had a spiritual experience in which the Holy Spirit told him it was time to re-enter the church. He was angry with this, and tried to ignore it for awhile–“I was like, ‘This is so inconvenient!'”–but it kept bugging him and he began attending Latter Day Saints services again in October 2005.

“Dreams are an important spiritual resource to me,” he said. Dreams are very important to Mormons, who believe in communication through dreams and visions with the Holy Spirit and with those who have passed on. Gustav-Wrathall has had both these experiences, which is one of the reasons he began writing his dreams down. “And actually, creating these animations based on the dreams that I’ve had has been a spiritual experience in it’s own right.” In fact, he became so overwhelmed upon creating the final image of his third short that he almost cried, and had to set aside the piece and stop working on it for awhile.

He has had his work appear in numerous publications, and has just had a fascinating book published called Take the Young Stranger by the Hand: Same-Sex Relations and the YMCA. You can check out more of his work at his blog: youngstranger.blogspot.com. And you can come to Patrick’s Cabaret tonight and tomorrow! Be there or be…amorphous.