A Guest Post from Kathe Koja:
An evening of Victorian opulence with an air of genteel decay: it was Under the Poppy‘s natural terrain, and we staged the second of our on-the-road performances at District VII Detroit last Saturday evening. “Love Is a Puppet” finds Istvan closer to his destination if no closer to his goal, and in desirous company, with a young man who calls himself “Gabriel the Angel.” Our audience watched from the curtained, secluded “backroom,” they watched from the stairway above . . .
Writing these shows and their scripts—episodes not found in the novel itself, but not hard to imagine: how many nights must Istvan have spent alone, on the long road back to Rupert?—and extending the story that way, is a new way of seeing that story, as well as a great pleasure for me as a writer. And then engaging in the ongoing act of collaboration, planning the show with my co-producer, Julanne Jacobs, watching the actors give gesture and breadth—and breath!—to the words, embody them, literally—watching the audience react, laugh, flinch and gasp—oh BOY, that is fun. The intersection of the fictional and the real becomes so vivid and acute, you can practically smell the lamp oil and brandy, the reek of the mud outside . . . And aided, on this night, by the raw brick of the warehouse, the scent of the river, the very old streets just past the doors; Detroit is a city that dates to the 1700s, after all. And with our audience dressed in Victorian finery, too, it was as if the story was doubled, and the event doubly theatrical. And amazing.
So the road continues; the journey continues, on the page as on the stage. THE MERCURY WALTZ, sequel to UNDER THE POPPY, will be published in 2013, wherein Istvan and Rupert operate their own theatre, the Mercury, a nucleus of subtle insurrections and the passions and rivalries that play-acting always seems to arouse, aided by two very different acolytes, Haden St.-Mary and Frédéric Blum, and a remarkably ferocious young lady named Tilde. And our next Poppy performance will take place early in 2012, in a venue that might seem surprising . . . The puppets lead, the story goes on, and we make our own fun in the dark.