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Ghostbird Theatre Partners has once again put a different face on theater here in Southwest Florida with the performance during Art Walk last night of Barry Cavin’s enigmatic Windowstories in The Franklin Shop on First storefront window.

Dressed in a chestnut jacket, striped trousers, yellow ascot and tan bowler, Jim Brock sat on a simple wood chair playing an accordion while an expressionless Stella Ruiz clad in ankle-length black dress and matching boots swept the laminate wood floor with a straw broom. Outside, FGCU student Lauren Tindle continuously read a story from a gold-lettered red book which competed for primacy with the chatter of revelers, diners and the sounds of the evening, leaving an ever-changing mix of spectators to draw their own conclusions about what they were seeing and what it might mean.

Was it a broken fairy tale? A woman trapped in domesticity? A scene of how we make our own prisons or our own escapes?

Perhaps there were clues on the redacted pages of the open books mounted atop slatted wood boxes at intervals along the window pane. “My journey was very melancholy …. Footprints mark the path between the cage and water…. She tries to erase the signs, the moment when she was left to the comfort of her sweeping…. At a distance, but not too far for her to hear, a splash and then the gentle rumble of folding water…. She whispers.”

“We yearn for freedom, for new destinations and identities, while we are arrested by our fears that come with traveling away from captivity and toward our humanity,” divulges Cavin, who adds that the installation piece was also designed to announce the theater company’s theme for this season.

As with all of Cavin’s works, there’s plenty to unpack and decipher … although few of the people who paused on the sidewalk outside The Franklin Shops on First took the time to process the scene unfolding before them. There were many distractions competing for attention up and down First Street between Broadway and Lee Streets. That’s just the reality of Art Walk, particularly during a tenth anniversary celebration.

But one thing’s certain. Cavin doesn’t include random props in his plays, so we can assume that Ruiz’s broom is metaphoric. It’s possible that the stick end of the broom illustrates stultifying repetitive processes that can be standardized, while the other end represents disorder and chaos. In the middle are those routines that are repeated in similar but non-identical ways. But there’s actually no need to overthink this. Being swept away is an idiomatic phrase that signifies being emotionally overwhelmed. In most instances, it is by love, music or a positive idea. But in this case, it would have the opposite connotation – we’re dragged back by our fears, anxieties and self-doubt each time we take those tenuous first steps toward the freer, more creative life we say we want.

While there was little interaction between the characters and the audience, their performances were noteworthy nonetheless. It would have been easy to break character during the frenzy, especially with people randomly walking up to the window to peer in or take photos and selfies. But through it all, Brock, Ruiz and Tindle stayed in their Cavin-ordained roles with the discipline of a Queen’s Guard. It’s something that Ghostbird audiences have come to appreciate and expect. Brock and Ruiz were equally stoic the last time they performed together – in ORBS!, a site-specific play that took attendees on a music-filled procession down the groomed paths on the historic grounds of the Koreshan Unity Community.

Besides ORBS!, Ruiz has appeared in a number of Ghostbird productions, most notably in last season’s Writing Shadows and as Antigone in the company’s production of Antigonick in Marcus Jansen’s former art studio and gallery in downtown Fort Myers.

Brock was most recently seen by Ghostbird audiences in another Art Walk event, performances this past May 4 of Samuel Beckett’s Catastrophe and Barry Cavin’s Ibb. However, he is best known to Ghostbird fans for his portrayal of Dr. Cyrus Teed in ORBS! and The Perfect Island of Dr. Teed.

October 6, 2018.

For more on Stella Ruiz, read here.



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