Michael Fields is moving on and making change with ‘Madsummer’

I write this to say “THANK YOU” to Dell’Arte, the North Coast, and the many people, artists, and community members it has been my privilege to work and collaborate with for these past four decades. And hopefully that will continue. 

As of June 30, 2021, I will be leaving all management at Dell’Arte. This has been planned for over a year and the transition is completed. I was at the beginning of a lot of things at Dell’Arte. I came here at 21 in 1975 to be part of the Grand Comedy Festival at Qwal a Wa Loo. And then was part of the company as we did the first touring work, LOONS RAGE. 

Michael Fields.

From that point on I stayed on, becoming part of the core ensemble with Joan Schirle and Donald Forrest and then creating the role of producing artistic director in the ’90s. And I just want to say how honored, grateful, and humbled I am to have worked with so many great artists, colleagues and students over the past 45 years. I have learned a lot. And may the learning continue. 

This is a moment of great change, collectively, nationally, in the theatre world, and “in the Lake.” I am thankful to be swimming in it. It is needed. And it cannot, but be different.

What next? I am happy to work to support the changes and transition at Dell’Arte in whatever way serves best. My hope it that it survives and thrives for the next 50 years and I believe that it will. I fully support a next generation of leadership. And I hope to continue to teach and create, again, in whatever ways serve best.

My focus now will be on teaching, creating, writing and directing. And I have established a new production company to help do that now. It is named LONGSHADR after an old sign that used to hang on my driveway (not sure who made it or where it came from). 

I have the honor of living on Wiyot land above the Badua’t (Mad River). LONGSHADR references the long shadows that are cast in the winter when the sun dips into the horizon behind the hill and the dark of the days become longer until the light of late spring. It is about hope, effort and joy of moving out of the shadows and into the light. It is about collaborations that promote the health and creative community spirit of this place. It is about preparing and creating popular (“of the people”), place inspired, theatre for a new era, in a hopefully post pandemic time.

The first project of this production company will be part of the Badua’t (Mad River) summer festival at Dell’Arte is called MADSUMMER. It will be played on Saturday, July 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. – in the Dell’Arte Amphitheatre. MADSUMMER is a first showing of what will be a very free, jukebox musical, adaptation of MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM with all of the lovers over the age of 60, set in a nursing home during a pandemic with the staff of the home like Cirque on steroids (don’t expect any Shakespeare). The presentation this summer will be a concert version with songs we are working on for the piece along with some short scene excerpts. 

Songs include, I WANT TO BE SEDATED, OLD FRIENDS, I DON’T LOOK GOOD NAKED ANYMORE, OLDER LADIES, FOREVER YOUNG AND MY GENERATION among others. The songs will be played and sung by the amazing house band it has been my pleasure work with over many festivals, Marla Joy, Tim Randles, Jeff Kelley and Mike Labolle. 

The presentation will also include longtime Dell’Arte Company member Michael Fields and invited guests including Wilda Thompson, Laura Murillo Hart, Zera Starchild and Donald Forrest among others.

It should be noted that, according to the Population Reference Bureau, the aging baby boom generation will fuel a 75 percent increase in older Americans requiring nursing home care to about 2.3 million people in 2030. And thematically, it should be stated that love …deep, passionate love… is possible and doesn’t end as one ages.

MADSUMMER has been informed by conversations with Humboldt Life Care and Hospice. You can go to dellarte.com for tickets and more festival information. Seating will be limited due to COVID safety protocols so it will be good to get tickets early.

I am on Facebook and a nascent website has been created for the new company, longshader.com (operable in July). I will also, hopefully, be traveling much more. I’d love to connect as a part of it all.  

Elizabeth Bruenig in the Sunday New York Times recently wrote an opinion piece on birth. In it she wrote, “with the exception of a few immutable characteristics, you are not something you discover someday through trial and error and interior spelunking: you are something that is constantly in the process of becoming, the invention of endless revolutions. You sometimes catch glimpses of yourself in time when life shines through your inner world like a prism, Illuminating all of the sundry colors it contains.” 

I find that to be true. And my intent is to continue to work to move to that light for the health of it all and with laughter, which I think we need a good dose of right now.

Thank you!

Michael Fields
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