Sabbath Moon
the book, the performance, and the event that started it all

Between 1979 and 1983 I completed a text or script which I called Sabbath Moon. It was sourced on Victorian and Elizabethan language, with some more modern components. The book was/is divided into three sections:
  1. Afternoon Red
  2. Red Raiment
  3. Sabbath Moon
The oldest and first section, Afternoon Red, had originally been entitled the Wooden Thistle, but I kept that name for part of the earlier draft which seemed to be something else. The second section, Red Raiment wrote itself out of an article in an late 19th century magazine about a trip to Slide Mountain. The third or cover section I called Sabbath Moon. It consists of a number of songlike vignetts. Beginning with an Ophelia-like rave, passing into the songalogs of various characterizations, one of them being Hag Rampant. She's not old, nor haggish but kind of a 16th century beer girl in an English tavern. Her songs are baudy tunes and she gets rough and tangled and all this weaves within other characters and voices which simply happened. None of it planned out except that I was very angry when I wrote parts of it so I wanted to do something ultra-outrageous and vengeful and on and on until, in the summer of 1985...just before I published it, something else happened. It was surprising because I had just finished and published Wild Dog Woods earlier that summer and thought, well, I'm on a roll here and SM is long finished so I'll just do it.

Wild Dog Woods had involved intensive sound word rhythm work. I had been listening to heavy metal a lot because I liked that energy and it seemed a match for my own. I was also reading Peter Matthisen's two wonderful written books on his travels in Africa. That is where the title Wild Dog Woods came from. This was a very dark place in the space of that book and the darkest place of all was the poem Canebreak. This is funny because every single time I read Canebreak people laugh... hard. But behind the writing of that piece is one and I hope the only that-dark moment of my life. I had reached the depths of something I had to try long and hard to crawl out of. It was very much of a battle, that book. In fact some of the pieces had to war as in the Sacking of Lowland Britain, the Victory of the North over the South and the Vietnamese War.
So it was just after the finish of Wild Dog Woods that something else happened and when it began I thought, this is definitely going to be the finale to Sabbath Moon. And it was. And because it was a very intense sound poem involving multi-voices and languages: German, Latin, English, Frency etc., I called it: Terra Serdita Heilige Nacht. It was the most deliberately trash-mouthed, sacrilegious, perverted and satanic like thing I had imagined I would write, and what a catharsis. YET, when it is read aloud, people laugh and laugh and laugh. So I have learned from the experience of Sabbath Moon and Wild Dog Woods something like what Dr. Helsinger mumbles at the end of Dracula.. "But King Laugh, when he come....

Sabbath Moon. I have always loved to re-read and hear Joy Learn read this book. So it was one of the highlights in my life as an artist (not to mention mom) when Joy and two of her fellow actress friends, and another friend decided they would meet weekly for many weeks in early 1995 to stage Sabbath Moon for 4 voices. I will never forget the night everything "jelled" and they ran through it start to finish. One of the actresses was Irish and had trained in London. Through her voice I heard what I heard in my head when I wrote it. And altogether they had made it come alive.
The performance was one night at the Talulah Cafe at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Our friend and fellow poet Richard Vaughan was host. Our mega friend and multi-media artist Richard Preston, and I had cameos spoken where we were sitting at the table in front of the stage and Richard opend by reading one of his latest poetic compositions. Richard had also kindly provided us with a rehearsal space at his loft.

So, that said, I will use this part of the site document that performance in pictures, and eventually in sound and video clips. Joy says she would like to direct another production of SM that would run longer, and we just might.

I would like to thank Isolde O'Neill, Deborah Verginella, Simone Moir (who appear in the pictures with Joy), Richard Preston and Joy Learn for in this special way giving me the chance to have this work performed on a stage in a theatre by professionals.

continued >>>
In performance for sabbath moon

Deborah Verginella, Isolde O'Neill, Simone Moir, and Joy Learn in runthrough pre-performance of Sabbath Moon, at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre 1995. Photo by B. Learn
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